William Jasper Montrief was born to Isaac and Frances Prunty Montrief in Franklin County near Rocky Mount, Virginia On November 5, 1839. Isaac Montrief would name his son “William Jasper” Montrief after Revolutionary War hero and patriot Sargeant William Jasper. Jasper is legend for recovering the present-day South Carolina standard as first seen in the Battle of Sullivan’s Island when the flag actually fell down outside the relative safety of the embrasure’s palmetto log walls and William Jasper, while continuously under fire, re-hoisted and bore the colors uninterrupted until Jasper’s South Carolina 2nd Regiment fixed a more permanent flagstaff. The English would suffer retreat from Charles Towne Harbor, to suffer their first naval defeat in more than one century c. 1776!
Nearly one century after William Jasper Montrief’s passing the stories we know are written in books or have been recounted over dinner tables throughout the decades. William Jasper Montrief would witness America’s transmogrification from a largely agrarian economy served by wagon powered livestock to a manufacturing economy transacted over telegraph and telephone wires running trackside along an advanced railroad infrastructure network ushering in burgeoning automation. As America changed so would William Jasper Montrief: beginning life as a farmer to becoming a Civil War veteran and finally entertaining varied successful entrepreneurial enterprises while always remaining a “civic leader” throughout Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.
Today people declare “the United States IS,” distinguished by folks circa 1860 announcing “the United States ARE” thinking of themselves as citizens of regional states first and “Americans” second. So circa 1861, just like his patriot grandfather before him, Sergeant William Jasper Montrief would enlist in General Fitzhugh Lee’s (General Robert E. Lee’s nephew) Tenth Virginia Cavalry under Captain William Flood’s Company C, together with two of William Jasper Montrief’s brothers: Corporal Thomas Thaddeus Montrief riding in the same 10th Calvary unit and Private James Madison Montrief joining Virginia’s 57th Infantry Regiment together serving alongside their “Virginian” countrymen. After brief discharge for medical condition (typhoid fever), William Jasper Montrief would re-enlist to be caught amongst numerous engagements and battles without suffering even so much as one wound there seeing service across the Seven Days’ Battle (Richmond July 1862), Antietam (Sharpsburg Sept 1862), Fredericksburg (Dec. 1862), Gettysburg (July 1863), Battle of Wilderness (May & June 1864) and the Siege of Petersburg (Richmond June ’64-May ’65) at sometime upgraded as detached courier communicating orders issued from both Generals Samuel Jackson and Robert E. Lee. It was on a scouting mission between lines circa January 1865 when William Jasper Montrief would be captured by General Gouverneur K. Warren’s Corps and transferred to Washington D.C. where upon taking the “Union Oath” William Jasper Montrief returned to the loving embraces of Father Isaac and Mother Frances.
William Jasper Montrief’s mother Frances Prunty had two married sisters living in Kentucky: Elizabeth “Betsy” Prunty Wingfield Finney of Richmond, Kentucky (Madison County) and Mrs. Nancy Mary Prunty Finney of Irvine, Kentucky (Estill County) in the next town over! Without a doubt, William Jasper Montrief arrived in Richmond, KY right after the war to teach school near his aunts (taking much-needed respite) before returning to the “old family place” near Rocky Mount, Virginia where William Jasper Montrief would bid family and Virginia goodbye before his furthest move west yet to Sturgeon, Missouri (Boone County) circa 1867.
William J. Montrief would be written about in at least three regional biographical composites including the History of Boone County, Missouri where William Jasper Montrief met and married Penelope Hendrick raising children whilst farming his Sturgeon, MO area homestead (north of Columbia – west of Centralia.) William Jasper Montrief’s arrival realized his election as Sturgeon’s mayor for one term after holding office as “marshal of the court of common pleas,” for a singular term as well.
Penelope Hendrick & William Jasper Montrief
More than two decades after leaving Virginia for Missouri via Kentucky, William Jasper Montrief would first move his family to Ft. Worth, TX circa 1887 before buying a freight “transfer line” company in El Reno, Oklahoma (on the outskirts of Oklahoma City) circa 1892. William Jasper Montrief would advertise his “transfer line” moving “heavy freights” as “specialty” utilizing seven wagon teams in the same “Chicago, Rock Island, & Pacific Line’s Business Directory” with language similar to that which drew William Jasper along with thousands of other El Reno settlers moving for generously lavished praise:
“EL RENO: the banner town of its class in Oklahoma,” and a “splendid society for a new town, having good schools, fine churches of nearly every denomination to be found in the south, and nearly all the secret societies are well represented. Express companies are Wells, Fargo & Co.”… “United States telegraph” and “Western Union.” El Reno “has good banks, some wholesale houses and plenty of good hotels of which “the Caddo” is the leading one at present.”
William Jasper Montrief would build sufficient capital with the freight business to parlay those resources into William Jasper’s purchase and operation of a successful manufacturing facility producing up to “30,000 bricks” daily. In short order, William Jasper Montrief would again find himself in public office, re-elected as El Reno’s Fourth Ward Alderman serving in 1894, ’96 and ’98. It was here in El Reno, OK where William Jasper Montrief’s son: Jay Oldman Montrief would meet and marry Miss Myrtle Lillian Artman.
The Civil War would change Montriefs’ political labels as first seen with William Jasper Montrief’s receipt of a formal “log cabin subscription education” bearing “Old Line Whig” indoctrination by Isaac Montrief whose patriot father, John Moncrieffe had undoubtedly served as the inspiration for Montrief family convictions (Whig history segue: Congressman Henry Clay would brand his party of anti-Jacksonians after those “American Whigs” of 1776.) However, America’s imminently exponential “entangling alliances,” as well those economic maelstroms perpetuated in frequency and duration for a regulatory dearth were unable to adequately address imbalanced concentrations of wealth or speculatively destructive patterns of behavior.
Increasingly thoughtful values underscored ever more rapid transcendence of generational labels inspiring that gospel of progressive consensus found upon William Jasper Montrief’s attendance as “delegate” to the St. Louis Populist Party Convention circa 1896. There William Jasper would be regaled along with fellow progressives listening to presidential nominee Senator William Jennings Bryan’s legendarily fiery “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold” oratory.
However when sons Montrief were to make a go of next Ft. Worth plumbing supply business, William Jasper Montrief would follow his sons back to Ft. Worth achieving William Jasper’s third biographical portrait in the History of Fort Worth & Northwest Texas.
Pictured above left: January 16, 1880 William Jasper & Penelope Hendrick Montrief would welcome Buelle Everette Montrief, here showing off strapping WWI era military uniforms. Buelle Everette Montrief would later be also pictured in the History of Fort Worth & Northwest Texas along with Jay Oldman Montrief and their father William Jasper Montrief.
Penelope & William Jasper would have four sons: three of whom are pictured here: Buelle Everette Montrief (left) Jay Oldham Montrief age 10 (right) & Homer Montrief (bottom)
William Jasper Montrief was featured in the “Ft. Worth Record” December 1915 as well “William Montrief’s” military service in the 1890 TX Civil War Veterans & Widows Index.