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Jacob Philip Wingerter: Confederate Veteran and Brazilian Immigrant

When I researched the history of the 28th Texas Cavalry (dismounted) I had hoped to include a chapter that discussed the soldiers’ postwar lives, however, I found it challenging at best to trace them into the postwar years. When I conducted my research, the internet was not yet available which meant I had to rely on printed indexes and microfilm. To say the least, scrolling through reels of microfilm is a tedious business, and after a time I gave up on following these veterans into the postwar years. Admittedly, weariness settled on me since I had tried to locate all 1,000 plus men in the 1860 U. S. census and the Texas tax rolls—enough was enough! Since writing my history of the 28th Texas Cavalry, I have heard regularly from descendants of men who served in the regiment. In this way, I have met a number of helpful and interesting people who have shared stories of their Confederate ancestors. The accounts about their wartime service interest me, but what happened to them after the war is often even more fascinating.


Most recently, Neusa Maria Wingeter di Santis of Brazil contacted me through the Texas in the Civil War Message Board, and what followed was a fascinating exchange about Neusa’s g-g-grandfather, Jacob Philip Wingerter. Private Wingerter enlisted in the spring of 1862 in the Freestone Freemen that soon became known more officially as Company H of the 28th Texas Cavalry. A Texas state official listed him as having zero taxable property in the state’s tax rolls, and that was the extent of my knowledge concerning Private Wingerter.

Neusa informed me that her ancestor was part of a colonizing group led by Frank McMullen to Brazil in 1867. The McMullan-Bowen Colony, according to a census of the group, consisted of 97 hardy souls; many of the men were Confederate veterans. Most traveled as families to Brazil; Jacob traveled there with his second wife, Susan, and his ten year old daughter, Amy. Jacob had already lived an exciting life; born in Bavaria, he immigrated to the United States around 1854. Settling first in Illinois, he eventually moved to New Orleans and then to Texas. His first wife and their children died as the result of an accidental poisoning, and then he experienced many hardships while serving in Walker’s Texas Division in the trans-Mississippi.

The members of the McMullan-Bowen Colony left Galveston, Texas, on the Derby, an old British vessel. These southerners left for a variety of reasons—some were concerned about postwar unrest, others hoped to escape poverty, and for others there was the lure of fertile land in a country that had some cultural similarities to the South. The little group encountered many difficulties on their journey to Brazil. They were shipwrecked near  Cuba and were forced to find other transportation—this led to a trip to New York City and then, finally, to their colony near São Paulo. This fascinating story is told by William Clark Griggs in The Elusive Eden: Frank Mc-Mullan’s Confederate Colony in Brazil (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987).

Luckily, Neusa shared even more information with me about her ancestor. Before the war, he distributed religious tracts in New Orleans, and I suspect that he continued doing so in Texas and perhaps even when he served in the 28th Texas. Several years after arriving in Brazil, Dr. Edward Lane, Confederate veteran and founder of the very first Presbyterian church in Brazil, hired Jacob as a colporteur. In other words, Wingerter distributed and sold religious tracts and Bibles. According to a letter written by Mrs. Lane, “It has been no unusual thing for the col-porteur to leave one copy of the Bible in a village or neighborhood, going back in six months or a year, he has been able to sell a dozen copies.” After Jacob found it difficult to ride in his later years, he worked for the American Bible Society. An admiring Mrs. Lanewrote that Jacob was “humble, patient, earnest, self-sacrificing, laborious, untiring, willing to toll anywhere, or at anything that the emergencies of the work demanded, but happier in proportion, as he was more directly engaged in extending a knowledge of the gospel.” Much of this religious information, according to Neusa, is from a book written by Dr. Alderi S. Matos who is the official historian of the Presbyterian Church in Brazil.

Neusa gave me permission to use the accompanying photograph of Jacob. It depicts him in 1914; he died two years later at the age of 83. He certainly lived a long, active, and fruitful life!

By the way, if you’re ever in Brazil on the second Sunday in April, you may wish to attend the Festa Confederada; Neusa reported that she attended the most recent one. The Festa Confederada is held alongside the  Confed-erate Cemetery in Santa Barbara D’Oeste, São Paulo. Southern foods are served, many attendees dress in antebellum style clothing, and the heritage of the Confederacy is celebrated.


Jacob and Anna

immigration to the U.S.

Born on the banks of the River Rhine, in Bayern, at a time when Germany was going through severe economic crisis. It is known that between the years 1820 to 1890 the Germans totaled 30% of immigrants in the United States of America (U.S.). Around 1854, at age 21, Wingerter has also migrated to the U.S.

Initially he settled in Illinois, where he joined the Methodist Church. A few years later, he went to New Or-leans (Louisiana) in search of work, already acting as an evangelist for distributing leaflets on Sundays and during the week when possible. After getting married and with two children, moved to Texas, but his family has died by accidental poisoning.

The serious political, social and economic conflict that led to the U.S. Civil War (1861–1865), only seven years after his arrival in the country, has hit everyone. Wingerter went to work as a telegrapher, enlisting in the 28th. Texas Cavalry of the Confederate Army. After the war, living in a fallen state on the battlefield, had no rights, no job.

The situation in the south was terrible because the victorious Army after defeating the southern rebels went to destroy and plunder their cities, homes and families.


Jacob Philip Wingerter (1914)

Wingerter decided to migrate to Brazil in 1867 with a group of settlers led by former officers Frank McMullen and William Bowen. Of the approximately 130 people who made up this group, many were Confederate veterans and many traveled with their families. Wingerter brought his second wife, Susan, whom he married in Grimes County, Texas on July 4, 1865, and her daughter Amy.

Immigration to Brazil

The members of the colony left the port of Galveston, Texas aboard the old British ship "Derby". These southerners left the U.S. for a variety of reasons - to escape violence postwar, escape from the poverty, to obtain fertile land in a country with few cultural similarities. There was also the strong encouragement of the Brazilian government , the Emperor himself diligently D. Pedro II in bringing immigrants to the country.  Before the trip, McMullan and Bowen were in Brazil and obtained from the Empire a land for the colony in Sao Paulo.

The old vessel, however, was shipwrecked near the island of Cuba, being rescued and taken to New York, facing severe storm that made them initially stop in the Virginia. After arriving in New York, finally managed to board the "North America" to Brazil. In May 1867, arrived in Rio de Janeiro and then went to Iguape, Sao Paulo. Wingerter's wife, Susan, died a few months after giving birth to her son Carlos. Sometime later, with two small children, when we lived in Santa Barbara d'Oeste, Wingerter marries for the third time, with Anna Luisa Büchner, daughter of an immigrant family. Then moved on to Campinas.

The Evangelist

Upon arriving in Brazil, Wingerter devoted himself to the evangelist action and in 1870, the physician and the Rev. Edward Lane, co-founder of the first Presbyterian Church of Brazil, invites him to work in the evange-lization of the settlers of German origin living in Sao Paulo . Wingerter joined the "Mission of Nashville", organized in Brazil by Nash and Edward Morton Lane to evangelize Americans southern Christians who came to the region of Campinas, besides seeking conversion of Brazilians.

Wingerter  moved  to Mogi  Mirim  and  when  the  local church  was organized, it  becomes  one  of  his priests.

In  "Mission Nashville" acted as colporteur, i.e., distributed and sold religious tracts and Bibles in Portuguese, English and German. According to a letter written by the wife of Edward Lane, Mrs. Sarah Lane, Wingerter made copies of Bibles in villages or neighborhoods and come back six months or a year later, when he sold dozens of copies. For her, writing in May 1877 to the children of the Sunday school in Baltimore (USA) to thank a sum of money raised for the purchase of a wagon for the colporteur, Wingerter letter was "humble, patient, earnest, self-denying, laborious, tireless, always happy and willing to move anywhere or do anything that the work of spreading the Gospel demanded."

Wingerter was gradually playing a prominent role in supporting the expansion of the main leaders of the Presbyterian Church in Brazil. Worked in Sao Paulo (state)Minas GeraisGoias and Mato Grosso. On many trips, accompanied him evangelistic pastors, such as the Reverend John W. Dabney, Delfino Teixeira and Miguel Torres. In August 1879, accompanied the Rev. Dabney on a trip to the city of Cabo Verde (Minas Gerais) and the district of Sao Bartolomeu de Minas. In his later years, Wingerter would return to Cabo Verde with his family and there would be born their younger children.

In 1879, the Reverend John Boyle, who arrived in Brazil six years ago, settling initially  Recife (Pernambuco),    moved to Mogi Mirim , where Wingerter was already. This continued his hard work canvassing and preached the Gospel in cities like Casa Branca , Mococa , Ribeirao PretoBatataisFranca, Santa Rita (now Santa Rita do Passa QuatroUberabaPassos, Minas Gerais, Santa Rita de Cassia (current Cássia, Divisa Velha (current   Campos Gerais), Ventania (current Alpinópolis and Sao Simao, Goias. Bringing back to Mogi enthusiastic news about the existing opportunities to evangelization in Central Brazil, Wingerter encouraged the Rev. Boyle to do the same route in 1881 and 1882, a core mission for Presbyterian Church expansion in the Central Brazil.

Anna E. Jacob Wingerter

In 1883, Wingerter was in Paracatu, Minas Gerais and again provided an encouraging report on the respon-siveness to evangelical Christian faith. The following year, he and Boyle visited Bagagem - current Estrela do Sul (Minas Gerais, Araguari, Paracatu, Formosa and Santa Luzia de Goias - current Luziânia. In 1887, Boyle went to live in Bagagem at the region of "Triângulo Mineiro", to dedicate to the expansion of the Presbyterian Church in the region and in the state of Goias, but Boyle died suddenly in 1892. In the same year that the Pres-byterian Church in Brazil also lost the Rev. Edward Lane.  The Rev. Alderi Souza Matos reports that in his last years, Wingerter worked for the American Bible Society. Says that the colporteurs were pioneers of a hard land, where the missionaries reaped the rewards. They suffered persecution and reproach, but always patiently sowed the christian faith.  In the early twentieth century, Wingerter, his wife and minor children move to Cabo Verde, Minas Gerais, where he remained until his death in 1916.


Wingerter had many children. From his marriage to Susan left Amy and Carlos (born in Iguape in 1868 or 1869). From his marriage to Anna Buchner, left John William, born in 1871 or 1872; Jonas; Carlota, born in Mogi Mirim, in 1889; Luis Bruno, born in Mogi Mirim on September 15, 1891; Laura, born in Mogi Mirim in January 22, 1894; Felippe, born in Cabo Verde in 1907 or 1908, Lydia, and Guilhermina.  Much of his des-cendants continued his Christian faith, usually linked to names Presbyterian, Baptist and Assembly of God.

The family name among his descendants has changed over the years. Could be found, in addition to the orig-inal version, Wingerter, Wingester, Wingeter, Wingerther, Wingter and Wengerter variations. There are other families Wingerter in Brazil, especially in the Northeast and Sao Paulo, including descendants of another Jacob Wingerter that came to Brazil in the twentieth century.

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