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View Tree for Major Christopher Beistel HeffelfingerMajor Christopher Beistel Heffelfinger (b. Jan 1834, d. 07 Nov 1915)

Picture of Christopher Beistel Heffelfinger

Christopher Beistel Heffelfinger (son of William Heffelfinger and Margaret Beistel)1714, 1715, 1716, 1717, 1718, 1719, 1720, 1721, 1722, 1723, 1724 was born Jan 1834 in Mifflen Township, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania1725, 1726, 1727, 1728, 1729, 1730, 1731, and died 07 Nov 1915 in Hennepin, Minnesota1732. He married Mary Ellen Totton on 20 Dec 1863 in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, daughter of John Totten and Hester McClure.

 Includes NotesNotes for Christopher Beistel Heffelfinger:
From http:www.mnhs.orglibraryfindaidsP0995.html:

Christopher B. Heffelfinger was born in Pennsylvania in 1834 and came to Minneapolis in 1857. From 1861 through 1864 he served in Company D of the First Minnesota Infantry Regiment, rising in rank from sergeant to captain. After serving the full term of his three-year enlistment, Heffelfinger was mustered out at Fort Snelling in May 1864. After a brief appointment as a relief agent in the United States Sanitary Commission in 1864, he re-enlisted in April 1865 and was appointed a major in the First Minnesota Regiment of Heavy Artillery.

Creator: Heffelfinger, Christopher B., 1834-1915.
Title: Christopher B. Heffelfinger papers.
Date: 1861-1929.
Abstract: Correspondence, newspaper clippings, and military papers of this Minneapolis (Minn.) resident, documenting his Civil War service with the First Minnesota Infantry, Co. D (1861-1864) and the First Minnesota Heavy Artillery (1865). They include information on his experiences at the First Battle of Bull Run and at the Battle of Gettysburg, and a sutler's memorandum book kept by him in 1863.
Quantity: 3 folders, including 1 volume.
Location: See Detailed Description for shelf locations.

P995 1 Correspondence and Related Papers:
Letter, 24 July 1861. 12 pp.
Heffelfinger describes his experiences at the Battle of Manassas (Bull Run).
Heffelfinger letter, 22 January 1863.
Letter of recommendation for Lieutenant James D. Gray.
Heffelfinger to Captain Wood, 14 January 1864.
Report critiquing the current placement of picket lines around the camp.
Stephen Miller to Alexander Ramsey, 7 May 1864.
Minnesota governor Stephen Miller introduces Heffelfinger to senator Ramsey.
William Colvill to Heffelfinger, post-1865. 2 items.
Both pertain to a military medal for Heffelfinger.
Ed. S. Past letters, [189?]. 4 items.
Mimeographed letters soliciting information on members of Company D.
Newspaper clippings and letters, 1891-1907. 6 items.
The items concern the First Minnesota at Gettsburg, 1863; the activities of Colonel William Colvill and Lieutenant-Colonel Charles P. Adams during the battle; and monuments later erected to commemorate the regiment's service there.
Bureau of Pensions to Heffelfinger, 3 June 1909.
Form letter announcing increase in Heffelfinger's veteran's pension.
Letters and newspaper clipping, 27 August 1898, 19-20 November 1914. 3 items.
Concerns the First Minnesota at the battle of Bristow Station, 1863, and the role played by E. Z. Needham.
Heffelfinger letter, 14 December 1914.
Explains history of the First Regiment Fund.
Location Box
P995 2 Sutler's memorandum book, 1863, 1929. 1 volume.
A leather covered pocket memorandum book (9 cm x 17 cm) containing notes relating to Heffelfinger's service as sutler to Company D. The volume is accompanied by a letter (30 December 1929) from its donor relating that a musket ball had supposedly glanced off the volume while it was in Heffelfinger's breast pocket, thereby sparing him injury.
Location Box
+50 Oversize Materials:
Commissions and appointment certificates, 1861-1909. 10 items.
Civil War commissions (5 items, 1861-1865); certificates appointing him a relief agent of the U.S. Sanitary Commission (1864) and the Gettysburg Monument Commission (1891); military discharge certificates (1864, 1865); and the certificate authorizing his pension (1909).
Muster rolls, April 1861. 3 items.
Muster-in rolls (2 items) and muster-out roll, all documenting Heffelfinger's promotions and attendant transfers.

From Wells Fargo:
Christopher B. Heffelfinger
This decorated Civil War Union Army veteran served in dozens of battles from Bull Run to Gettysburg. He returned to Minneapolis and founded firms such as the North Star Shoe Company. A shrewd and enterprising businessman, Heffelfinger recognized the promise of a new banking institution founded in Minneapolis in 1872. He became one of the original stockholders in the Northwestern National Bank - later Norwest, now part of the Wells Fargo family.
At 18 apprenticed himself to cabinet maker-painer. Then painter.
1857: went west to St. Paul. Worked as chain-man for survey; collected ginseng; farm labor; got several contracts to paint houses.
1861: Discouraged, he returned to Pennsylvania, where renewed acquaintance with Mary Ellen Totton, living with brother David Totton, after their parents had died young. They became engaged before Chris went to Washington to see Lincoln innaugurated. Returned quickly to Minnesota to enlist in First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry--first federal regiment to answer Lincoln's call.
1861-1863: Company D, First Minnesota, wounded four times; rose from private to Captain. Hearing impaired for life after Gettysburg, July 2-3, 1863..
1863: Married Mary Ellen on short notice after three-year enlistment and after Gettysburg. Then Chris returned to Minnesota and reenlisted Minnesota Artillery, where became Major.
1866: Took wife and baby Sully to Minnesota. Mary Ellen was (or had been) consumptive and weighed only 95 pounds; many thought she would not survive in the west; however, recovered completely, raised seven children and survived 81 years.
1867: Chris the tanner opened North Star Boot and Shoe Company, undisturbed by a competitors' commercial:
"If you would walk in the path of God,
Buy your shoes from Walker and Dodd.
If in the flames of Hell you'd linger,
Buy your shoes from Heffelfinger.

Chris and Mary Ellen ("the Major" and "Mrs. Heffelfinger," as they called each other in public) eventually lived in a large house at 1828 3rd Ave S.
1894: headed a commission to "locate" battle site of First Minnesota at Gettysburg for the monument erected.
1900 United States Federal Census, Minnesota, Hennepin, Minneapolis, Ward 5 District 64 - lists two servants:

Hilma Anderson F b. Mar 1871 Sweden Immigrated 1890
Louisa Anderson F b. June 1867 Sweden Immigrated 1885

1900 United States Federal Census lists Christopher as Manufacturer of Boots and Shoes Residence is 1828 Third Avenue South

1870 United States Federal Census
Christopher is listed as "Leather(?) Dealer"
lists one servant:
Clara Olsen Female 19yrs b. Sweden

Children listed are:
Sully 4yrs b. PA
Walter 2yrs b. MN
Frank 1 yr b. MN

Charles Heffelfinger age 20 also listed and is "clerk shoe store"

1910 United States Federal Census
Still at 1828 3rd Ave South - "Store Boots and Shoes" (Charles also)

3 servants and a boarder:
Ellen F Anderson F 28yrs Sweden
Hannah Aus F 37yrs Norway
Dimi H Finnerite F 31 yrs Norway
boarder - Jesse(?) Chapman M 25yrs Wisconsin - Liveryman
Christofer Heffelfinger
Company D
Enlisted 04291861
Discharged 05051865
Rank 1st Lieutenant
Wounds wounded
Battle Wounded Gettysburg 73-chest,slight
Nativity USA,PA
Born 011334
Died 110715
Died Where MN,Minneapolis
Hometown Minneapolis
Vocation painter

Christopher B Heffelfinger was born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania on Jan 13, 1834. He came to Minneapolis in 1857. He was working as a painter when the war broke out. He enlisted and on Apr 29, 1861, was mustered as a private in Company D of the First Minnesota Infantry. That same day he was promoted to sergeant.

The immaturity of unit and the Federal army, as a cohesive fighting unit, became apparent at their first battle, Bull Run. Chris wrote a letter to his sister on July 24, 1861, in which he described the battle.

"But to give you the particulars, I will commence when the 'tug of war' commenced. After being marched upon the field, we were kept standing about an hour, some distance from the engagement, but could see all that was going on. Our side looked quite favorable then, as the enemy was backing, and our boys were putting in their 'best licks'. We joined in about 1 o'clock. All that were retreating from the action appeared to be pretty well fatigued, but in good spirits. They retired chering us. The common remark was 'give them the devil boys'. The dead and wounded were strewn all over the field. The poor fellows which were wounded, as we passed them gave us all the encouragement they could. The scene was awful when we went on the field but much worse when we retired. Ambulances and carriages were running in all directions carrying off the dead and wounded. All those who were not wounded seriously, walked. When we joined the shooting or rather before we commenced that part, as we were marching up, we all the thought the battle better than half over, as the enemy had been driven back about a mile from where the firing first commenced."

"As we were marching up in column, the cannon balls were flying thick and fast-but as good luck would have it, they were all aimed too high, all were passing over our heads. But they passed by singing like a swarm of bumble bees. They made the boys kneel and squat occasionally as they could hear them before they would get them. All our boys acted bravely, not one of them flinched an inch. Some looked a little pale, and bore kind of a sad expression on their countenances, but their manly courage carried them through. We formed on quite a hill, an elevated spot, right where the battle first commenced, almost one mile from the ground where the enemy occupied. We had to march down into a hollow, then up the hill to get a fire at the Rebels, as they were then on the other part of the woods. Right on the edge of the woods they had their batteries concealed. Their retreat in my opinion was just a decoy for to get us up to their Batteries, for whenever they got us there they had the woods to protect them, and we were exposed in open field to their fire all the time. Our officers appeared to be ignorant of the Enemies Batteries being planted there, as we were marched up in front of one before we ever fired a gun. After our first fire, the Col. ordered us to fall down, load, and fire which we had not done, we would undoubtedly been nearly cut to pieces as the greater part of the Enemy was concealed in the woods...."

"I think the Generalship was very bad on our side....The attack was an insane one, from the small amount of men we then had. I think it was managed badly. the men fought like tigers."

On November 27, 1861, Chris was promoted to 2nd lieutenant. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant on September 17, 1862.

An interesting story concerning Chris occurred at Fredericksburg. During the night of Sept 14th, 1862, the noise of picks and shovels could be heard accross the lines. Gen Morgan desired to know what the enemy was doing. Lt Heffelfinger volunteered to try to find out. He took Corporal Irvine with him. The two crawled carefully out to the front and wriggled themselves along until they discovered what the "Johnnies" were up to. They were busy at work digging rifle pits. Nearing the enemy's position they separated, so as to hear as much as possible. Lt Heffelfinger got along all right, but Corporal Irvine was captured. The lieutenant crawled back to safety and reported what he'd learned. It was a hazardous exploit but of great value.

He was slightly wounded at Gettysburg, on July 3rd, during the repulse of Pickett's charge. A minnie ball pierced his coat and made a hole at the top of the pocketbook he carried in his inside breast pocket. The ball broke the pencil on the inside cover, glanced off and seared the skin of his chest, almost knocking him down. He continued carrying the book thrughout the rest of the war.

Later, on July 25, 1863, he was promoted to captain of Company D, from the date of July 4, 1863. This last promotion occurred after so many officers had been killed or wounded at Gettysburg. Being only slightly wounded in the chest, he was one of the few who had survived the battle able to continue to fight on another day.

On Dec 20, 1863, while on leave, he married Mary E Totten in Pittsburg, PA. She stayed in Pennsylvania, while he returned to the war. He continued to serve with his unit until they were discharged after 3 years of service in May of 1864.

In 1865, he was tendered a commission as major of the First Minnesota Heavy Artillery, by Gov Stephen Miller. He served with them in Chattanooga, TN, from April to September. They were then returned to Fort Snelling and discharged in Oct, 1865.

After the war he and Mary raised a family in Minnesota. Their children were Alfred, William, Frank, Mary, Fannie, Charles and Annie. Their address was 1828 Third Ave South in Minneapolis.

In 1866, Chris got into the boot & shoe business with another man by the name of Walker. Their firm Walker & Heffelfinger included his brother C A Heffelfinger. It was located at 27 Washington Ave S in Minneapolis. Four years later he bought out his partner and in 1873 organized the North Star Boot and Shoe Company.

Shortly after the war the men began to meet for annual reunions. At the reunion, held at White Bear Lake, Mn, on June 17, 1869, he was elected president of the First Minnesota Association. He was a member of the Minnesota Commandry of the Loyal Legion of the United States. He was offered the commandership of the organization twice , but refused because of defective hearing. He was made vice-commander, which also placed him on the staff of the National Commandry of the Loyal Legion.

Chris was a charter member of the Rawlins G. A. R. Post #126 in Minneapolis. On Jan 11, 1884, he became a member of the George N Morgan G. A. R. Post #4, in Minneapolis.

He was one of the commissioners of the project to erect a monument on the field at Gettysburg, to commemorate the unparalleled charge of the "Old First".

Christofer died on Nov 7, 1915. His remains were buried at Lakewood Cemetery, Section 17, Lot 227, Grave 8.


Roster of the George N Morgan Post #4, GAR, 1903.

No More Gallant a Deed, James Wright, 2001, Minnesota Historical Society, p 242.

Minnesota in the Civil War, Kenneth Carley, 2000, Minnesota Historical Society Press, p 17.

St Paul Dispatch, Friday, June 18, 1869.

History of Hennepin County, 1881, p 560.

Roster of the First Minnesota Infantry, 1910.

Christofer Heffelfinger collections, Minnesota Historical Society.

Lakewood Cemetery file, Cristopher Heffelfinger

More About Christopher Beistel Heffelfinger:
Date born 2: 1834, Newburg, Cumberland, Pennsylvania, USA.1733
Civil: Minnesota.1734
Died 2: 1915
Died 3: 1915, Minneapolis.1735
Residence 1: 1880, Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, United States.1736, 1737, 1738, 1739
Residence 2: 1870, Minneapolis Ward 2, Hennepin, Minnesota.1740
Residence 3: Jun 1890, Hennepin, Minnesota, United States.1741
Residence 4: 1900, Minneapolis Ward 5, Hennepin, Minnesota.1742
Residence 5: 1910, Minneapolis Ward 5, Hennepin, Minnesota.1743
Residence 6: 1910, Minneapolis Ward 5, Hennepin, Minnesota.1744

More About Christopher Beistel Heffelfinger and Mary Ellen Totton:
Marriage: 20 Dec 1863, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.

Children of Christopher Beistel Heffelfinger and Mary Ellen Totton are:
  1. +Sully Heffelfinger, b. 1864, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania1745, d. 1920.
  2. Robert Heffelfinger, b. 1866, d. 1867.
  3. +William Walter Heffelfinger, b. 20 Dec 1867, Minneapolis, Minnesota1745, 1746, 1746, 1747, 1748, 1749, 1750, 1751, 1752, 1752, d. 02 Apr 1954, Blessing, Texas1752, 1752.
  4. +Frank Totton Heffelfinger, b. 20 Sep 1869, Minneapolis, Minnesota1753, 1754, 1755, 1756, 1757, 1758, 1759, 1760, 1761, 1762, 1763, d. 11 Jul 1959, Wayzata, Hennepin County, Minnesota1764.
  5. Mary Ellen Heffelfinger, b. 18 Feb 18711765, 1766, d. 03 Aug 1955, Hennepin, Minnesota1767.
  6. +Fanne Heffelfinger, b. Sep 1873, Minneapolis, Minnesota1768, 1768, d. date unknown.
  7. Charles E Heffelfinger, b. Feb 1875, Minneapolis, Minnesota1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, 1773, d. date unknown.
  8. +Louise Heffelfinger, b. Jan 1878, Minneapolis, Minnesota1774, 1774, d. date unknown.
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