Charles Frederick Ernest Minnigerode was imprisoned while a student at the University of Giessen in Germany because of his political activities. He emigrated to the United States in 1839 and was appointed Professor of Humanity at William & Mary in 1842. He taught through 1848. he was friendly with the family of William & Mary Law Professor Nathaniel Beverley Tucker and at Christmas in 1842 presented the Tucker family with the German custom of decorating a tree, the first Christmas tree in Williamsburg, Virginia.
In 1847, Minnigerode became an Episcopal priest. After leaving William & Mary in 1848, he served several parishes before being called to St. Paul's Church in Richmond. During the Civil War, Jefferson Davis attended his church and the two men became friends. After the war, Minnegerode worked in various capacities for the Episcopal Church, serving on several councils. He served on the College of William & Mary's Board of Visitors from 1871 through 1893.