2 January 2012

Philip Ernst Winter

1859 — 1934

Biographical Information

PHILIP E. WINTER.   Many of the older states of the Union have contributed to the personnel of the bar of Oklahoma, and the representative lawyer whose name initiates this review claims Illinois as the state of his nativity, passed his childhood and youth in Iowa, and came to Oklahoma from Washington, D. C., where he had served for eight years as an assistant attorney in the office of the assistant attorney-general for the department of the interior.  Mr. Winter is engaged in the successful practice of his profession in Oklahoma City, where he maintains his offices at 616 Terminal Building, and he has been a resident of this city since the autumn of 1910.

Philip Ernst Winter was born in the City of Chicago, Illinois, on the 1st of November, 1859, and is a son of Wilhelm and Wilhelmina (Fiegenbaum) Winter, both natives of Germany.  In 1844, shortly before the memorable exodus of the refugees of the German revolution to America was instituted, Wilhelm Winter's parents immigrated to the United States, accompanied by all of their children except their eldest son, and the family disembarked in the City of New Orleans, whence the voyage was continued up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, and settlement was made in Warren County, Missouri.  Wilhelm Winter was a young man at the time of the family immigration to America and it was soon afterward his privilege to give significant assurance of his loyalty to the land of his adoption,- a country that has had much to gain from its valuable German element of citizenship, both in past and present generations.  Early in 1846 Wilhelm Winter tendered his services as a soldier in the Mexican war.  In the City of St. Louis he enlisted in a cavalry regiment of volunteers, and soon afterward proceeded with his command to the stage of polemic activities.  He was with his regiment in the command of Gen. Winfield Scott when that gallant leader entered the City of Mexico, and he took part in various engagements marking the progress of the conflict between the United States and Mexico, his service having continued until the close of the war. 1 

After victory had crowned the arms of the United States, Mr. Winter, a youthful veteran of the war, returned to his home in Warren County, Missouri, in which state he remained until 1852, when he immigrated to Iowa and became one of the pioneer settlers of Louisa County, where he had been granted a tract of government land in recognition of his services in the Mexican war.  He vigorously instituted the reclamation of this land and continued his activities as one of the pioneer farmers of the Hawkeye State until 1856, when he severed his association with the great basic industry of agriculture and, with characteristic zeal and ability, prepared himself for the ministry of the German Methodist Episcopal Church, as a clergyman of which denomination he labored with all of consecrated devotion and fruitful results for a quarter of a century, his first charge having been Rock Island, Illinois, and his last, Davenport, Iowa.  He was a man of broad intellectual ken and lofty ideals, the sincere friend of humanity, and his gracious and kindly personality drew to him the staunchest of friends and the confidence and esteem of all who come within the sphere of his influence.  He died at Davenport, Iowa, in 1882, and his memory shall be held in lasting honor through his effective services as a soldier of his adopted country and of the church militant. 2 

Mrs. Wilhelmina (Fiegenbaum) Winter proved a devoted wife and helpmeet to her husband and was ever earnest in her co-operation in and sympathy with his zealous labors in the uplifting of humanity.  She was but an infant at the time of her parents' immigration from Germany to America in 1833, and here she was reared and educated.  This noble woman, now venerable in years, maintains her home at South Omaha, Nebraska, with her youngest daughter, who is principal of one of the public schools of that city. 3 

Philip E. Winter acquired his early education in the pioneer schools of Iowa and in pursuance of higher academic discipline he finally was matriculated in the Iowa Wesleyan University, at Mount Pleasant, in which institution he was graduated in 1878, with the degree of bachelor of arts, and from which he later received, in 1881, the degree of master of arts, the intervening period having been by him devoted to successful work as a teacher in the public schools:  he taught one year in a district school in Logan County, Illinois, and two years in the grade schools at Beardstown, that state.  In consonance with his ambition and well formulated plans for his future career, Mr. Winter then entered the Union College of Law in the City of Chicago, and in this institution he was graduated as a member of the class of 1883, of which Hon. William Jennings Bryan likewise was a member, and he duly received his well earned degree of bachelor of laws.  Mr. Winter may consistently be designated a natural student, and is known for his high academic and professional attainments and for his keen appreciation of the best literature of general and professional order. 4 

On the 1st of November, 1883, Mr. Winter entered upon his professional novitiate by engaging in practice at Wymore, Gage County, Nebraska, where he built up a substantial law business and where he served three terms as city attorney.  He continued to be numbered among the leading members of the bar of Gage County until April, 1891, when he entered a broader field of endeavor by removing to the City of Omaha, where his ability and insistent devotion to the work of his profession gained to him a large and representative clientage.  He remained a valued and popular member of the Omaha bar for ten years, and within this period served four years as deputy county attorney, besides having given effective service as a member of the board of education of the Nebraska metropolis.

Mr. Winter continued his successful professional labors at Omaha until in August, 1900 when he was appointed as assistant to the United States attorney general for the Interior Department and removed to the national capital, where he served as a legal representative of the Department of the Interior until 1910, when he retired from his government post.  In November of that year Mr. Winter came to Oklahoma and established his residence at Oklahoma City, where he has since held high vantage ground as one of the representative members of the bar of the new commonwealth and where he controls a large and important law business, in connection with which he practices in all the State and Federal courts.

Though independent in politics and not in the least constrained by partisan lines, Mr. Winter permitted himself to be nominated as the candidate of the progressive party for the office of judge of the thirteenth judicial district of the state in the election of 1914, but he was defeated, with the other local candidates of the newly created political party.  Mr. Winter is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, as well as the Phi Delta Theta college and the Phi Delta Phi law school fraternities, and while attending the law college in the City of Chicago he there served two years as a member of the fine old First Infantry Regiment of the Illinois National Guard.  Both he and his wife are members of the First Methodist Episcopal Church in their home city, where their circle of friends is coincident with that of their acquaintances.

Mr. Winter has manifested specially deep interest in and appreciation of the best traditions of the land of his forbears and especially in the lives and labors of the sterling German element that has wielded powerful influence in the furtherance of civic and material progress and prosperity in the United States.  His interest has found concrete exemplification, in that for several years past he has been devoting earnest attention to the authoritative compilation of a history of the German people in the United States, a work to which he is bringing his fine intellectual powers and literary ability, so that the published edition when issued is certain to become a valuable contribution to American history.

On June 3, 1884, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Winter to Miss Alta S. Kauffman, of Mount Pleasant, Iowa.  She is a descendant of Michael Kauffman, a Swiss Huguenot, who immigrated to America in 1707 and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  This sturdy colonist was the ancestor of the numerous family of Kauffmans still prominent in the social and industrial activities of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

In Oklahoma City the pleasant and hospitable home of Mr. and Mrs. Winter is at 1636 West Fortieth Street.  They have four children, concerning whom brief data are given in conclusion of this article:  Max Wilhelm is a special agent for the United States General Land Office, with official headquarters at Cheyenne, Wyoming; Jean Grace is a successful and popular teacher in the public schools at Perry, the judicial center of Noble County, Oklahoma; Gladys Kauffman is the wife of Harold F. Bradburn, contract agent of the Pioneer Telephone & Telegraph Company, at Oklahoma City; and Winifred Elsa is a student in the University of Missouri, where she is a member of the class of 1917.

Source: Joseph Bradfield Thoburn, A Standard History of Oklahoma: An Authentic Narrative of its Development From The Date of the First European Exploration Down to the Present Time, Including Accounts of the Indian Tribes, Both Civilized And Wild, of the Cattle Range, of the Land Openings and the Achievements of the Most Recent Period (Chicago, Illinois; New York, New York: American Historical Society, 1916) volume 3, pages 1,175-1,176.

The photo of Philip Ernst Winter accompanied this biography (between pages 1,174 and 1,175).


  1. During what is known in American history as the Mexican War (1846-1847), William Winter served as a private in Captain G. deKorponay's Company B, Third Regiment, Missouri Mounted Volunteers. He enlisted and was mustered into service on 21 May 1847 at St. Louis, Missouri and was honorably discharged on 13 October 1848 at Independence, Missouri.

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  2. Wilhelm Winter was born on 31 Jul 1825 at Humfeld, Principality of Lippe (in northwestern Germany). He died on 21 February 1882 at Davenport, Scott County, Iowa, and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery at Muscatine, Bloomington Township, Muscatine County, Iowa.

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  3. Maria Wilhelmine Fiegenbaum was born on 27 July 1833 at Lengerich, Kreis Tecklenburg, Province of Westphalia, Kingdom of Prussia (in northwestern Germany). Maria was about 1 year old, perhaps younger, when she emigrated in 1834 from Lengerich with her father, Adolph (age about 40), her mother, Christine (age 37), and four brothers and sisters (ages 13 to about 4 years). The family is reported to have disembarked at New Orleans, Louisiana and to have travelled up the Mississippi to St. Louis. The Fiegenbaums quickly settled in Femme Osage township, St. Charles County, Missouri. They later moved to Warren County, Missouri, and around 1850 settled near Wapello, Louisa County, Iowa. Maria Wilhelmine and Wilhelm were married on 18 February 1850 at Warrenton, Warren County, Missouri. She died on 16 March 1917 at the home of her son, Dr. F. W. Winter, at Wymore, Gage County, Nebraska; and was buried in Wyuka Cemetery at Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska.

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  4. A brief recap of Philip's educational and professional life was published in 1917 by the Alumnal Association of Iowa Wesleyan College (it is recreated below). Iowa Wesleyan University has been known as Iowa Wesleyan College since 1912.

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Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity

Phi Delta Phi, Booth Chapter, Class of 1883

Philip Ernest Winter, Phi Delta Theta, Omaha, Neb.

A.B., Iowa Wesleyan Univ., 1878.   A.M., ibid, 1881.   Consul.   City Atty. of Wymore, 1885-8.   523 N. Y. Life Bldg.

Source: Catalogue of the Legal Fraternity of Phi Delta Phi, seventh edition; edited by George A. Katzenberger (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Inland Press, 1898); page 74.

The Booth Chapter of Phi Delta Phi in the Law School of Northwestern University (formerly Union College of Law) was established in 1880.

Source: ibid, pages 68-69.

Alumnal Association of Iowa Wesleyan College

Class of 1878

254.  Phillippus Ernst Winter, A.B. - Born November 1, 1859, Chicago, Ill.  Prepared, public schools.  Entered Iowa Wesleyan 1873.  A.M. 1881.  Philomathean.  Schiller.  Phi Delta Theta.  Arion Singing Society.  College Oratorical Contest, 1877.  Graduate German College.  Teacher, three years, Beardstown, Ill.  Entered Union College of Law, November 1881.  Took Horton annual prize for graduating thesis, and received degree, LL.B., 1883.  Lawyer.  Practiced, Wymore, Neb., 1883-86, where he was City Attorney two years.  Moved to Omaha, Neb., 1891, where he was deputy county attorney, 1895-98; member Board of Education, 1898-99; appointed Int. Dept., 1900; President, Nebraska State Association, Washington, D.C.  Now practicing law at Oklahoma City.

Married Alta S. Kauffman, June 3, 1884, Mt. Pleasant.


Max Wilhelm, born June 24, 1885.

Irmgard Christine, born September 29, 1887; died 12 April 1891.

Jean Grace, born 24 March 1890.

Gladys Kauffman, born February 10, 1892.

Winifred Elsa, born June 17, 1894.

Residence 1014 North Walnut, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Source: Alumnal Association of Iowa Wesleyan College, Historical Sketch and Alumni Record of Iowa Wesleyan College (Mount Pleasant, Iowa: Alumnal Association of Iowa Wesleyan College, 1917); page 206.

Iowa Wesleyan University has been known as Iowa Wesleyan College since 1912.

Brief Genealogy

Philip Ernst Winter's family

Alta S. Kauffman's family

Winter - Kauffman family

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