The Bintliff Family


Alfred Bintliffe

Alfred Grundy Bintliff – son of Gershom – was born in Halifax, UK early in 1840.

He went with some of his family, later that year, to Utica, NY in the United States.

After death of his father, most of the family migrated west to Monroe, WI (Wisconsin) where they appear in the 1850 U.S. Census. By 1860, he was in Exeter, WI working as a labourer on the Ellis farm. Alfred was the youngest of his brothers but when the American Civil War broke out, he was the first of the four brothers to volunteer for the Union army and served the longest. He mustered in as Private on 19 September, 1861 with the 5th Wisconsin Artillery. The regiment eventually made their way to join the Army of Tennessee in Nashville and joined in the pursuit of the Army of the Mississippi commanded by General Braxton Bragg. They caught him in Perryville, KY, 3 October, 1862. Alfred was rendered mostly deaf by his service with the artillery unit and most of the damage occurred in Perryville. As he explained in his pension application:

At the Battle of Perryville, KY (Chaplin Hills) on the evening of the first day of the battle in (8) October 1862 by the discharge of the artillery. It was done in this way. I was a (spare) man and had no place and was awaiting orders. My comrade by the name of Smith*(Private John F. Smith) was shot and I ran to take his place and when beside the gun was stopped by the Sergeant and while speaking to him standing on my feet they fired the discharge and I felt a crack in my ear which rang for a long time and I have never heard a whit out of that ear since

The 5th Wisconsin Battery was involved in several pivotal actions during the War. Besides Perryville, they were at the Battle of Stone's River, the Battle of Chickamauga and the siege and Battle of Chattanooga, Tennessee. At the end of 1863, Alfred re-enlisted, this time as a bugler. Alfred took his 60-day veteran's furlough, returned to Wisconsin to visit family and then re-mustered with the reformed 5th in early March. From there, they joined General William Tecumseh Sherman's army where they marched to Atlanta, Georgia to take part in the siege of that city and then remained with Sherman on his march to the sea. After the surrender of General Joseph Johnston and the Army of the Tennessee, they marched in the Grand Review (a victory parade for the Union Army) in Washington, D.C. in May of 1865 and he then mustered out on June 6, 1865. Alfred was a tinsmith after the War but once he was approved for his pension, he sometimes lists his profession as painter or artist. He did spend some time in New York City and Chicago but mostly spent the rest of his days in and around Janesville, WI. He was a boatsman and there are accounts of him travelling to nearby cities by boat and even set out with friends in 1886 to see if they could find a water route from the Rock River to Lake Michigan. He was also said to collect Native American artefacts.

Although he never married and had no children of his own, he appears to have been a doting uncle to his numerous nieces and nephews.

Indeed, his nephew William Campbell Bintliff, whose father Thomas had died in the War, named his first son Erwin Alfred). He also left land and money to each of his nieces in his will. Alfred died after a long battle with consumption on 19 April,1900 in Janesville, WI. He is buried in Janesville near his brother General James Bintliff and his mother Maria Hanson Bintliff, both also natives of Halifax


The Bintliff Mite Box

The following relates to an interesting incident concerning John Wesley and the Bintliff family.

In 2002, the recently-formed History and Archives Committee of Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, in Minneapolis, USA, were moving a collection of documents from the church vault – where they had been stored for many years – to a new Archives Room.

In one of the boxes was a round wooden container with a hinged lid. The box is about 8 inches high and about 6 inches in diameter.

When the lid was removed there were some folded sheets of paper inside. These were 2 letters written to church officials in 1925 and signed by Charles Addison Bintliff.

The letters explained that the container was a mite box that had been in the Bintliff family for many generations.

The mite box was made from a tree that grew in a churchyard in Halifax, and that it had been given by John Wesley to a Bintliff who was a church official.

It seems that Wesley was a preacher at the church. Around 1770, when an expansion of the church was planned, the tree was in the way and had to be felled. Wesley thought some good should come from the lost tree and had mite boxes made from it which he gave to all the church officers.

Which church was it? One of the few churches to be built in Halifax around 1770 was the South Parade Chapel which replaced the earlier Church Lane Chapel in 1777.

It was Gershom Bintliff, probably the grandson or great-grandson of that mite box recipient, who was the first Bintliff to come to America with his wife and children in 1841/1842, and who brought their mite box with them.

One of Gershom and Maria Bintliff's nine children – also named Gershom – was 10 when the family came over. He moved to Wisconsin where he married. He and his wife moved on and settled in Ashland, MN (Minnesota). When they came to Minneapolis in 1871, they became members of the original Seventh Street Church and later the Centenary Church on Hennepin and 10th Street and the Fowler Church when it merged with the Hennepin Avenue congregation. One of their sons, Charles Joseph I founded the Bintliff Manufacturing Company in Minneapolis in 1885. The company went out of business in the 1930s.

His son, Charles Addison Bintliff II, was an officer when he wrote the mite box letter on company letterhead in 1925. Charles Bintliff II explained in that letter that his 8-year-old son Charles Joseph Bintliff III [1917-1998] was the real donor of the family heirloom to Hennepin United Methodist Church.

The second letter found in the mite box had been sent to Hennepin United Methodist Church a few months earlier to inquire about the church's interest. A paragraph it that letter said that the family was giving the box with the understanding

that it be not buried in the vaults (of the church)... out of sight of man

but be displayed.

The 2002 committee has not been able to determine whether the box was ever displayed, but committee members resolved that when it had a display case for exhibiting church artefacts, the mite box had to be the first item to go into it. Now on display in the committee's new display case in Carlson Hall is the Wesley/Bintliff mite box, where, as Charles Bintliff requested

it can be seen by all and as a reverend reminder of John Wesley

© Malcolm Bull 2022
Revised 16:36 / 17th June 2022 / 10252

Page Ref: X551

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