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Family of

William Walter "Pudge" Heffelfinger &
Grade Harriett Pierce Heffelfinger




Grace Harriett Pierce Heffelfinger

By Lacy Winston Rasberry

Grace Harriett Pierce was born at “Rancho Grande,” Deming’s Bridge, Texas, on September 1, 1879, the youngest daughter of Jonathan Edwards Pierce and Nannie Deborah Lacy Pierce.


Grace left Deming’s Bridge at an early age following the tragic death of her mother, who had suffered fatal injuries in a horse and buggy accident. She lived with her cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Withers in Kansas City, Kansas. During the years in Kansas, Grace attended finishing school and met her future husband, William Walter Heffelfinger.


William Walter Heffelfinger was born on December 20, 1867, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of Major Christopher B. Heffelfinger and Mary Elen Tottan Heffelfinger. William was totally dedicated to the game of football throughout his life, and was All-Time All American, Yale University Class of 1891, with the distinction of being one of the first players to be inducted into the Football Hall of Fame.


William and Grace “began their life’s journey together,” as he once wrote to her, on December 4, 1901, in Kansas City, and traveled to Europe for their wedding trip. Upon returning to the United States, the Heffelfingers lived in Minneapolis where their three children were born: Nancy Pierce (February 28, 1904-April 18, 1980) died at Columbia, South Carolina, and was buried at Hawley Cemetery; William Walter, Jr. (December 1, 1907-April 21, 1969) died at Lexington, Virginia, and was buried at Hawley Cemetery; and Jane Lacy (January 21, 1908-February 4, 1960).


Grace and William lived in Minneapolis until the death of her sister, Pearl Pierce Smith, brought them back to her native Texas and “Live Oak Farm,” near Blessing, where she spent the rest of her life. William died on April 2, 1954, at Live Oak Farm, and Grace died on February 4, 1960, in Houston. Both were buried at Hawley Cemetery.


In addition to her three children, Grace left four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.


The children of Jane Lacy Heffelfinger and Peter Bickerton Winston, who was born March 18, 1909, in Minneapolis, Minnesota were: Lacy Winston who was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and married Richard L. Rasberry, who was born in Laurinburg, North Carolina and Nancy Winston Sinclair Swindler who was also born in Milwaukee.


Stephen McClure Heffelfinger who was born in Minneapolis, the son of William Walter Heffelfinger, Jr. and Lois Hargett, who was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and died in Bay City and is buried at Hawley Cemetery.


Grace Pierce Heffelfinger, who was born in Lexington, Virginia, was the daughter of William Walter Heffelfinger, Jr. and Jen Wade, who was born on October 24, 1907, at Brownsburg, Virginia. This Grace Pierce Heffelfinger died on January 28, 1974, at Charlottesville, Virginia, and was buried in the New Providence Presbyterian Churchyard, Brownsburg, Virginia.


Grace Pierce Heffelfinger’s great-grandchildren were:


The children of Nancy Winston and Michael Manson Sinclair: Michael Manson Sinclair II and Nena; and the child of Nancy Winston Sinclair and Timothy Swindler, Jane I.


The children of Stephen McClure Heffelfinger and Elaine Kathryn Wolf: Jennifer and Grace Pilar.

Grace Pierce Heffelfinger was a gracious, dignified, regal lady. She enriched the lives of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren by her very presence and deserves a place in the history of Matagorda County.


Historic Matagorda County, Volume II, page 231

All-Time All-American
Matagorda County’s Greatest Athlete Pudge Heffelfinger, Dies At 86

Walter W. “Pudge” Heffelfinger is dead.

Matagorda County’s greatest athlete passed away Friday afternoon at his home near Blessing after a short illness. He was 86.

Funeral services were held Monday afternoon at Hawley Cemetery near Blessing.

A frequent visitor to The Bay City News office in past years, Mr. Heffelfinger, an all-time American, loved to reminisce about the early days of football in the United States.

He divided his time between Texas and Minnesota and on one visit to The News confided that he was telling everyone that he was a Texan. Matagorda Countians have considered Pudge Heffelfinger “one of their own” for many, many years.

Played Left Guard

He played left guard for Yale in the years 1888-91. He recounted that the first All-American team was picked in 1889 by Walter Camp and Casper Whitney of Harper’s Weekly. Heffelfinger made that mythical selection as he also did in 1890 and 1891.

After graduation he played with various athletic clubs and coached at LeHigh University (1892), University of California (1898), and the University of Minnesota (1895).

He was offered a coaching job at Navy but turned it down because of other work. “If I had taken the job at Annapolis,” he said on one visit to The News, “I might have been in the coaching business for many years.”

Active In Real Estate

Leaving college, he entered the shoe business in Minneapolis with his father, the late Major C. B. Heffelfinger. He was active for any years in real estate in his home state and in 1904 and 1908 he was a Minnesota delegate to the Republican National Convention.

Mr. Heffelfinger was in excellent health through his late years, as he was all during his life, standing six feet, two inches tall and weighing around 218 pounds, about 12 pounds more than his playing weight.

He played in an all-star game in Columbus, Ohio, when he was 53 years old. His team—he was captain—beat the Ohio boys, 16-0, he recalled with a grin of satisfaction on a visit here not so long ago.

He played all but four minutes of this game at an age most men would do nothing more strenuous than fishing or nine holes of golf. He said he could have gone the route, but he wanted to give “some other fellows a chance to play.”

But that wasn’t his last game. When he was 64 years old, he played nine minutes of football in an all-star game for disabled veterans in Minneapolis. He was forced out of the game by an injured knee, the first incapacitation injury of his long career.

In his last year of college, he played every minute of the 13 scheduled games. He also played baseball, tossed the weights in track and, in his senior year, rowed on the Yale crew.

His last visit to Yale was last November 21, when he was presented a certificate naming him a member of the Football Hall of Fame at Rutgers University.

His survivors include his widow and three children, Walter W. Heffelfinger, Jr. of Blessing, Mrs. P. Bickerton Winston of Columbia, South Carolina, and Miss Nancy Heffelfinger of Blessing.

Bay City News
, April 8, 1954

William W. “Pudge” Heffelfinger Buried In Hawley Cemetery Today

The central figure in the world’s most famous football legend, Monday afternoon was laid to rest at Hawley Cemetery near Blessing, with legions of sporting fans and athletic acquaintances throughout the world acting as mourners.

He was William W. “Pudge” Heffelfinger, Sr., 86, a famed “iron man” of the gridiron for Yale University in the 1890 era.

The famous athletic great died at his Live Oak Farm near Blessing at 4:11 p. m. on Friday.

Services were held at 2 p. m. at the Live Oak Farm, with Rev. A. C. Maxted officiating. Interment was at Hawley Cemetery. The body of the football immortal lay at state at the Blessing farm from 11 a.m. until time for the service.

He had lived on the farm for 52 years.

He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Grace Harriet Pierce Heffelfinger of Live Oak Farm; two daughters, Miss Nancy Pierce Heffelfinger of Live Oak Farm, Mrs. P. B. Winston of Columbus, South Carolina; a son, W. W. Heffelfinger, Jr., Brownburg, Virginia; three sisters, Miss Mary Ellen Heffelfinger, Mrs. J. C. Seiden, and Mrs. James Ford Bell, all of Minnesota; one brother, Frank T. Heffelfinger, Minnesota.

Mr. Heffelfinger was three times named to Walter Camp’s all-American team and was the most often named on all-time all-America teams.

He was a 60-minute man for Yale in 1889, 1890 and 1891 and was reputed to have been the first running guard in football. His football ____ continued after his college days, playing some 54 minutes of an all-star game when at the age of 57. At age 65 he played briefly in another all-star game.

He was recently honored at New Haven, the home of the school for which he brought immortal football glory.

Taylor Bros. Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

The Daily Tribune
, April 15, 1954


Grace Pierce Heffelfinger

Mrs. Grace Pierce Heffelfinger, 81, of Blessing, died Thursday. Survivors: Daughters: Miss Nancy Heffelfinger, Blessing, Mrs. James H. Winston, Columbia, S. C.; son, W. W. Heffelfinger Jr. Brownsburg, Va.; four grandchildren. Burial 2:30 p. m. Saturday Hawley Cemetery, Blessing, Texas. In lieu of other remembrances, please make donations to Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Palacios.

Newspaper and date unknown

Heffelfinger Funeral Set For Saturday

Mrs. Grace Pierce Heffelfinger whose late husband, W. W. (Pudge) Heffelfinger was one of early football’s star guards, died Thursday in St. Luke’s Hospital. She was 81.

Mrs. Heffelfinger lived at Live Oak Farm at Blessing, where she and her husband had moved in 1939. He died in 1954. They formerly lived in Minneapolis.

Services will be Saturday at 2:30 at Hawley Cemetery at Blessing. Survivors include two daughters, Miss Nancy Heffelfinger of Blessing and Mrs. Jane H. Winston, Columbia, S. C.; a son, W. W. Heffelfinger, Jr., Brownsburg, Va.

Heffelfinger made football history as guard on the 1891 Yale team. In 1951 he was named by the Associated Press for its midcentury all-time all-American team.

Newspaper unknown, February, 1960

Nancy Pierce Heffelfinger

Nancy P. Heffelfinger, 76, died Saturday, April 19 in South Carolina where she had moved several years ago to be near her sister, Mrs. P. Bickerton Winston. Burial was in the family plot in Hawley Cemetery.

Nancy Heffelfinger lived at Live Oak Farm near Blessing several years ago with her mother, the late Grace Pierce Heffelfinger and father “Pudlge” Heffelfinger, who made their home there at that time.

Her grandfather was Johnathon [Jonathan] Pierce. Her cousins living in this area are Abel B. and Ruth Pierce of Blessing; Stella and Abel Pierce of Palacios.

During World War II she served with the Red Cross in the European area where she met several men from this area, one being the late Eddie Huffman, also one of the Denn Brothers from Bay City.

The Daily Tribune
, April, 1980


Heffelfinger Rites Friday at Blessing Catholic Church

Mrs. Lois Hargett Heffelfinger wife of Lt. William Walter Heffelfinger of Fort Bragg, N. C., who passed away Sunday morning, will be held Friday morning at 10 o’clock at the Blessing Catholic Church with Father Bauman officiating.

Mrs. Heffelfinger is survived by her husband and son, Stephen McClure. She has resided at Live Oak Farm near Blessing for the last two years with the family of Mrs. W. W. Heffelfinger.

Funeral arrangements are in charge of Taylor Bros.

The Daily Tribune, Thursday, March 9, 1941

Jane Winston

Advocate News Service

Blessing—Jane Lacy Heffelfinger Winston, 78, of Colombia, S. C., died Sunday in Columbia.

She was born Jan. 21, 1908, in Minneapolis, Minn. to the late W. W. “Pudge” and Grace Pierce Heffelfinger.

Her grandfather was J. E. Pierce and early pioneer settler in Matagorda County, who, with his brother, Abel H. “Shanghai” Pierce, accumulated considerable land in Matagorda and Wharton counties.

Funeral services were held Tuesday at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Columbia.

… p. m. Sunday at Hawley Cemetery near Blessing with the Rev. Herbert A. Willkie officiating.

Pallbearers will be Steven Heffelfinger, Richard Rasberry, Teddy Smith, Andy Friend, Charles Kutchka, Lee M. Pierce and M. L. Null.

Arrangements are under the direction of Taylor Brothers Funeral Home of Bay City.

Surviving are her husband, Peter Bickerton Winston of Columbia, S. C.; two daughters, Lacy Winston Rasberry of Eastover, S. C., and Nancy Winston Swindler of Columbia, S. C.; and three grandchildren.

The Victoria Advocate
, February, 1986

Peter Bickerton Winston

Peter Bickerton Winston, 86, of Columbia, South Carolina passed away April 3, 1995 at the Life Care Center in Columbia, South Carolina. He was born in Minneapolis, MN to Phillip & Katherine Wheaton Bickerton Winston. He was a Navy Veteran of WWII, a member of Forest Lake Club, and St. John’s Episcopal Church in Columbia. He was preceded in death by his wife, Jane Heffelfinger Winston in 1986. He is survived by two daughters, Nancy Winston-Swindler and Lacy Winston-Rasberry both of Columbia, South Carolina, a brother, John Winston of Minneapolis and three grandchildren. Grave Side Services will be held at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, 1995 at the Hawley Cemetery in Blessing. Arrangements are with Taylor Bros. Funeral Home.

The Daily Tribune
, April 11, 1995




Stephen McClure Heffelfinger - Hawley Cemetery


Heffelfinger Family Plot Marker - Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota
Photo courtesy of Ken Gardner

Christopher B. Heffelfinger
Photo courtesy of Don Houlding


Mary Ellen Totton Heffelfinger
Photo courtesy of Ken Gardner

Envelope from Pudge Heffelfinger's father's shoe business.

1898 Magazine Ad for The North Star Shoe Company



Copyright 2011 - Present by the Heffelfinger Family
All rights reserved

Nov. 6, 2011
Nov. 6, 2011