Montrief family name history: “Upon Hope”

Over centuries, countless derivations of a Gaelic portmanteau comprising monadh ‘hill’ + craoibhe- of craobh ‘tree’ have been branded upon those emanating from “Moncreiff Hill” near Perth, Scotland. Those monikers evolved into numerous varied spellings and even more pronunciations with centuries witnessing several permutations including Moncreiffe, Moncrieffe, Moncrieff, Moncreiff, Moncrief, Moncreiff, and Montcrieff. So circa 1821, it’s no surprise to discover fourteen year old fatherless Isaac from Charleston, South Carolnia, without any known formal education, determining it better to yet apply his own creative incarnation to his surname “Montrief” that in turn Isaac and Frances Prunty Montrief would distinguish upon one girl and five boys!

During school’s summer lull before internet marvels manifested infinitely convenient information, an elderly man once gave twelve year old Michael Montrief excellent advice: “In my time, TV was called books.” School and municipal libraries produced countless fascinating reads including some historical reference editions displaying “Montrief” surname notations giving foundation to stories worn to threadbare detail  for time travel. When Michael Royce Montrief’s father thrust upon Michael Montrief this apparently very fragile document: at age twelve: the torch had been passed.

In process many questions about our “Montrief” family name you may be interested in, especially should we share the same moniker whose motto “Sur Esperance” translates into “Upon Hope.” The history of our Montrief family name began with those great hopes of a Revolutionary War veteran and Scottish immigrant living in Charleston, South Carolina: John & Sophia Moncrieffe who would welcome an only son named “Issac.”

John & Sophia Moncrieffe Welcome Son Isaac Montrief circa 1807

American patriot and Montrief family patriarch John Moncrieffe was born around the port of Perth, Scotland about 1748. John Moncrieffe was an adventurous seafaring man with at least two records revealing “Captain John Moncrieffe” leaving sum European Moncrieffes to arrive into Britain’s American Colonies via Jamaica on the Briganteen “Smyth” circa September 6, 1766 as noted in the South Carolina Gazette, Issue # 1622, of September 1-8, 1766, page 149; and again sailing the Briganteen “Smyth” to arrive Charleston via London on May 23, 1769 as announced in the South Carolina Gazette #1757, of May 25 1769, page 325. Charles Towne must have seemed close to paradise for Scotland’s comparatively bleak skies.

What’s interesting is the reason for John Moncrieffe’s return to Charles Towne’s colonial outpost: Scottish immigrant John Moncrieffe’s marriage announcement as seen in the South Carolina Gazette; and Country Journalon “Sept. 29 1766, Capt. John Moncrieff, to Miss Polly Fly,” and on Oct 10 1766 the South Carolina and American General Gazette, made note too“Captain John Moncreiff, of the Brigatine Smyth, to Mary Fley.” In recorded entry, Colonel Isaac Hayne would note of John Moncrieffe’s first marriage: “Cap* Jn** Moncrief Mary Fley S Sep’ 29″ 1766.”

As early as early as 1778, John Moncrieffe was likely charged with “treason” against the crown in Carteret County, North Carolina paying £500 pounds bail totaling to more than $45,000 in 2012 money (ship likely “repurposed” for the crown, e.g. forfeiture.) Soon thereafter at thirty years old revolutionary militiaman “John Moncrief” is fighting alongside his “rebel” neighbors in unsuccessful prevention of the “Fall of Charles Towne” to Clinton’s redcoats circa 1780 and taken prisoner of war for resisting the English Empire’s South Carolina occupation. When patriot John Moncrieffe was captured in the midst of the US Army’s third largest surrender ever seen: John Moncrieffe refused to serve the crown (no doubt modifying surname to more strongly suggest French ancestry avoiding impressment.) Thus  “John Moncrief” was incarcerated for nearly one year on “Prison Ship Torbay” in Charles Town’s Harbour from May 11, 1780 until a May 3, 1781 prisoner exchange arrangement. Regardless, neither Generals Clinton nor Cornwallis would yield in colonial subjugation but for enduring increasingly organized Yankee resistance delivering that eventual Treaty of Paris to memorialize the Revolutionary War’s cessation of hostilities and inspire those Caucasian male citizens of “Charleston,” to restyle their own moniker into present day portmanteau: all circa 1782.

Before the advent of free public education in South Carolina circa 1811, John Moncrieffe helped establish one of Charleston, South Carolina’s first schools formalizing education for underserved youth. John Moncrieffe (who probably still bore at least latent Scottish accent) was significantly involved with the St. Andrews Society, founded in Charleston circa 1729. There detailed in the History of St Andrews Society Charleston S.C, their enduring mission is chartered upon uniting Scotchmen and “good fellows” for the promotion of charitable good and social purpose. Circa 1796 and no doubt regrouping for Revolutionary War’s precipitated lull, one “highly intelligent committee” including John Moncrieffe organized efforts to establish a school for under-served children by revising St. Andrew’s by-laws for successful incorporation before South Carolina’s legislature, which would ratify St. Andrew’s charter two years later. John Moncrieffe would also serve St. Andrews in the capacity of “Secretary” commencing November 30, 1787 until election as “Assistant” in 1790. According to this 18th century South Carolina Deeds Index, and before son Isaac Montrief was born circa 1807 John Moncrieffe would enter into a lease with William Blacklock:  the same William Blacklock recorded as John Moncrieffe’s fellow St. Andrews Society committee member founding one of Charleston’s first “free” schools  together.

At least two censuses record the Montrieffes in Charleston after the war: South Carolina’s 1810 Census noting “John Moncrieffe” (2x for Sophia too?) as well 1830’s South Carolina census also noting “Sophia Moncrieffe” in Charleston. John Moncrieffe second relationship with Sophia was consummated sufficiently late in John’s own life that fourteen year young Isaac losing his father likely gave impetus for successively modest modification of the “Moncrief” moniker “Father” had first americanized upon provision to those insolently British prison ship captors.

John Moncrieffe’s obituary actually reveals his home address where widow Sophia Moncrieffe no doubt greeted attending mourners. Of note in The Southern Patriot Newspaper issue May 12, 1821: “The friends and acquaintances of Mr. John Moncrieffe, and the officers and members of the St. Andrew’s Society, are invited to attend his funeral, from his late residence, No. 13, Society Street-west side of Meeting Street.” John likely enjoyed regularly tremendous views over Charleston’s Harbor with that home address before it’s most recent disposition as commercial parking lot!

Isaac Montrief marries Frances Prunty March 2, 1835 in Rocky Mount, Virginia

Isaac Montrief was born in South Carolina circa 1807 to John & Sophia Moncrieffe. Isaac Montrief’s father, John Moncrieffe passed on when Isaac was only 14 years young circa May 1821. Isaac Montrief grew up quickly upon losing his father at such an impressionable age: making for several dramatic tales. John Moncrieffe’s war stories serving between and behind enemy lines as Revolutionary militiaman and prisoner of war  incarcerated upon an English prison ship moored in Charleston’s harbor were no doubt explanatory realizing the Montrief surname Americanized with “Moncrief” written into the record.  John Moncrieffe’s stories left such significant impression upon Issac Montrief to name a son for William Jasper, the Patriot and South Carolina Regiment hero saving the colors in the Revolutionary War’s “Battle of Sullivan’s Island” repelling Britain’s first attack on Charles Towne. After John Moncrieffe passed,  Isaac “Montrief” made his way to Greensboro, NC having apprenticed a carpenter’s trade, thus marketing himself as “cabinet-maker.”  It was here in Greensboro, N.C. where Isaac would meet Frances Prunty and only attend one semester of school before being swept off her feet. Isaac and Frances Prunty Montrief were married on March 2, 1835, there removing for her quaint “Rocky Mount” hometown hamlet just a scant seventy-five miles north and serving as Franklin County, Virginia seat.

Michael Montrief Rocky Mount VA old home place

Circa 1830’s, the “Montrief” family would create a their home in Rocky Mount, VA: constructed merely twenty-five years before Civil War’s outbreak and likely of more Spartan accommodation than that “contemporary”  Virginia cabin pictured above. Isaac Montrief & Frances Prunty Montrief would go onto have six children: James Madison, Thomas Thaddeus, William Jasper Montrief, and Frances Louise, Jesse Pickney (died @ age 10) & John Fletcher.

Probably Thomas Thaddeus Montrief with wife Eunice Gilbert or John Fletcher Montrief with wife Eliza Kelly.

Either Thomas Thaddeus Montrief with wife Eunice Gilbert or John Fletcher Montrief with wife Eliza Kelly circa 1870’s.

Michael Montrief also discovered that John Fletcher and William Jasper would enlist in the same Virginia cavalry regiment while James Madison would enlist in the infantry circa 1861. William Jasper Montrief actually participated as a dispatch courier for Confederate generals and was eventually captured close to war’s end before being transferred to Washington, D.C. where William Jasper took the Union oath of allegiance to be summarily released. Many of the Civil War’s bloodiest battles wreaked utter havoc in Virginia with a defunct currency and no open banks, the barter economy was exacerbated by the annihilation of what primitive antebellum transportation infrastructure had previously existed.

James Madison Montrief and John Fletcher Montrief would both become members of the Snow Creek Masonic Lodge circa 1871 & 1873 respectively. However, just a few years after Appomattox Court House, 64 year old patriarch Isaac Montrief passes circa 1871 and with that vacuum most of the Montrief family abandons Virginia to follow William Jasper’s lead to Missouri’s wild west.  By 1867, William Jasper Montrief had already arrived into Sturgeon, MO and the Civil War’s pains had started to become more remote.

Just like Thomas Thaddeus and Frances Louise, John Fletcher (alongside mom Frances Prunty) would all in successive time follow William Jasper’s departure for Missouri’s western frontier while fourth surviving son James Madison stayed behind in Rocky Mount, VA raising a son “Willie” who remained tending the “old home place” circa 1920.

Isaac’s daughter, Frances “Aunt Lou” Louise Prunty Montrief  would unfortunately bear no children but would indeed forward through time legibly transcribed original source documents seen below revealing more “Montrief” family details misplaced over two centuries!

Aunt Lou would also compose below family tree history sketch. Aunt Lou would wed as noted in the Columbia Statesman March 17, 1882 , reading:  “Oldham, Napolean B. -married Frances L. Montrief, March 9, 1882.”

At least two centuries of numerous spelling permutations evolved into the present day’s “Montrief” styled moniker. Variations have included Moncreiffe, Moncrieffe, Moncrieff, Moncreiff, Moncrief, Moncreiff, and Montcrieff. The more perceptive Moncrieffe’s were undoubtedly disposed of flair challenging record keepers motivated by pith, there conflating manifold misspellings of the “Montrief” Family name. William, Thomas & James’ would later serve as active Confederate militia, no doubt intentionally misleading “illegitimate” Civil War era government servants manually recording such major miscommunications as:

1840 VA Census Index
Isaac “Montrieve”

1850 VA Census Index
Isaac “Montrief”

1860 VA Census Index
Isaac “Montrief”
James “Montreith”

1870 VA Census Index
Isaac “Montraf”
James “Montrief”
Maria “Montree”
Dolly “Montreath”

Frances Prunty Montrief was so loved by her grandchildren that they kept this memento upon her passing.

Frances Prunty Montrief’s memory so inspired her grandchildren with such love that personal tokens were preserved as relics more than one century after her passing.



Picture left: Mt. Pisgah Cemetery located in Texas, MO – Picture right: Frances Prunty Montrief’s tombstone therein.

William Jasper Montrief: A man for all seasons

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 Montrief & William Jasper Montrief

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)

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.

Jay Oldman Montrief and Myrtle Lillian Artman


Michael Royce Montrief’s great grandparents: Mr. & Mrs. Jay O. Montrief posing on vacation in Galveston, TX (left) & Atlantic City, NJ during probable break from attendance at the Shriner’s Philadelphia conclave circa 1925. (pictured right)


Great-grandma Myrtle Lillian Artman pictured left: sitting right, big brother Riley Artman standing left & Pictured right: at school house standing far right corner at top row’s end just to the left of the tall little boy.


Picture left: Michael Montrief’s great-grandma Myrtle Lillian Artman Montrief pictured (far left) as a teenager with friends Jessie Brownbech & Anna Schram “Anadarlio”; Picture right: at age 16.


Michael Royce Montrief’s great-grandmother Myrtle Lillian Artman Montrief posing with young sons Alfred Eugene Montrief and smiling Richard Oldham Montrief (picture left) Myrtle Lillian Montrief portrait right.


Michael Royce Montrief’s great-grandfather Jay Oldman Montrief posing with young sons Alfred Eugene Montrief and a saluting Richard Oldham Montrief (picture left) Jay Oldham portrait picture right.



Michael Royce Montrief’s great-grandfather Jay Oldman Montrief would be elected as the “Potentate” leader of Ft. Worth’s Moslah Temple Shriners circa 1925.


Michael Montrief’s great-grandmother stepping into motor-coach circa 1915 (picture left)  Michael Royce Montrief’s great-grandparent’s family home at 1616 Anderson St. Ft. Worth, TX (picture right)

    Buelle Everette Montrief and Mabel Montrief with grandson

Buelle Everette Montrief portrait (left) and with Mabel Montrief and grandson (right). Thanks to Diana and Michael Anderson for their help with these great pictures!

Michael Royce Montrief’s (2x) great -uncle Buelle Everette Montrief (above) together with Michael Montrief’s great-grandfather Jay Oldman Montrief  owned a large Ft. Worth plumbing supply business “Montrief & Montrief.”


Michael Montrief’s great-grandma Myrtle Lillian Artman Montrief on vacation in Galveston, TX with Eilzabeth Betsy “Bessie” Preston (left) and posing for a picture to be displayed in a musical program (right).

Michael Montrief’s great-grandmother Myrtle Lillian Montrief’s headstone in El Reno, OK.

J.O. Montrief’s headstone in Bridgeport, TX buried next to his father William Jasper Montrief.

Diana and Michael Anderson have been of great help with pictures and information about our Montrief family, thank you!

USMC Major Alfred Eugene Montrief: Obligations Singularly Substituted

Alfred Eugene Montrief was born September 16, 1913 near Ft. Worth, Texas.

Picture left: only months old; Picture right: horsing around as an adolescent.

Alfred Eugene Montrief loved football playing throughout high school and here being featured with the “Stripling (High School) gridiron machine” at age 15 (picture left)  The Ft. Worth Press 9/10/28; Playing football for the Marines circa 1940 at about age 27 (picture right).

Major Alfred Eu”Gene” Montrief, USMC (left) and Michael Royce Montrief’s grandmother Gladys Ethel Perkins Montrief (right)

Michael Montrief’s grandfather, Alfred Eugene Montrief as a strapping young Marine.


Alfred Eugene Montrief- Top left: in Qingdao Shandong, China on “Pacific Rd.” with one “Major Word”;  Middle Left: Standing next to Guam’s liberation announcement; Bottom left: Bivouacs on Okinawa; Top right: ground crew manning flight to Manila; Bottom right: On approach into Manila, Philippines.


Alfred Eugene Montrief- Top left and right: both USMC uniforms;  Bottom left: photo snapped of General Lawson Sanderson boarding plane with Alfred Eugene Montrief aboard; Top right: photos of drinking buddies noted as “Marine Aircraft Group 21” with “Fox” “Bradley” “Killin” “Vargo” & “Seda”; Middle right: working in office far left; Bottom right: USO troupe at Agana, Guam (now Hagåtña.)


Letters of appreciation from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to Alfred Eugene Montrief.


Letters of appreciation from Defense Secretary Charles Wilson (left) and Senator Styles Bridges- NH (on right: what an awesome name!) to Alfred Eugene Montrief.


Letters of appreciation from General Gerald C. Thomas USMC (left) and General W. Snedeker USMC (on right and bottom) to Alfred Eugene Montrief.