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RVA Legends – Jimmie “Punk” Monteith Jr.

Today’s RVA Legends is a little different than usual. Today we’re not focused on a place but rather a person.

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Our resident historian Steve Smith of Rocket Werks fame is in France. We assume but can’t confirm that he is spending all his time researching for future RVA Legends and RVA Must-See. This assumption is confirmed by the following story he relayed to us over the weekend.

Steve was taking a tour of the Omaha Beach Cemetery, located in Colleville-sur-Mer, Basse-Normandie. At some point like all good historians, he wandered off and began randomly walking around the cemetery. It wasn’t long before he noticed the gravestone you see above of Jimmie Watters Monteith Jr.

Noticing the Virginia birthplace he did some quick Google-Fu and found the Jimmie was from Richmond.

Wikipedia Entry:

Jimmie Watters Monteith Jr. was born on July 1, 1917 in Low Moor, Virginia. His family moved to Richmond, Virginia, when he was nine years old. After elementary school, he attended Thomas Jefferson High School, where he played a year each of varsity football and varsity basketball. Known in high school as “Punk,” he graduated in 1937. He attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (then known as Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute, shortened in popular usage to Virginia Polytechnic Institute or simply VPI) for two years, 1937–1939, majoring in mechanical engineering. While at VPI, he was a member of K Battery in the Corps of Cadets and the Richmond Sectional Club. He returned to Richmond at the end of his sophomore year and worked as a field representative for the Cabell Coal Company, where his father was vice president.

Military Service

He was drafted into the army in October 1941 and sent to Camp Croft, South Carolina, for basic training. During basic training, he was promoted to corporal and applied for officer training. He was accepted and sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, completing the course in March 1942, when he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant. He was then transferred to Fort McClellan, Alabama, where he helped train the 15th Battalion. In February 1943, he was transferred into the 30th Division at Camp Blanding, Florida, to begin training in preparation for being shipped overseas to fight in the war.

In April 1943 he was shipped to Algeria, where he joined the 1st Infantry Division (Big Red One). The division moved to Sicily in July 1943, and he received a field promotion to 1st lieutenant during the campaign. The division moved to England in November 1943 to prepare for the Normandy invasion. It was during the D-Day invasion that he was killed.

He is buried at the American cemetery in Normandy, Colleville-sur-Mer, Basse-Normandie, France. His grave can be found in section I, row 20, grave 12.

Jimmie received a Purple Heart, a European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) for his actions during the D-Day Invasion.

Medal of Honor Citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, while serving with 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, in action near Colleville-sur-Mer, France. First Lieutenant Monteith landed with the initial assault waves on the coast of France under heavy enemy fire. Without regard to his own personal safety he continually moved up and down the beach reorganizing men for further assault. He then led the assault over a narrow protective ledge and across the flat, exposed terrain to the comparative safety of a cliff. Retracing his steps across the field to the beach, he moved over to where two tanks were buttoned up and blind under violent enemy artillery and machinegun fire. Completely exposed to the intense fire, First Lieutenant Monteith led the tanks on foot through a minefield and into firing positions. Under his direction several enemy positions were destroyed. He then rejoined his company and under his leadership his men captured an advantageous position on the hill. Supervising the defense of his newly won position against repeated vicious counterattacks, he continued to ignore his own personal safety, repeatedly crossing the 200 or 300 yards of open terrain under heavy fire to strengthen links in his defensive chain. When the enemy succeeded in completely surrounding First Lieutenant Monteith and his unit and while leading the fight out of the situation, First Lieutenant Monteith was killed by enemy fire. The courage, gallantry, and intrepid leadership displayed by First Lieutenant Monteith is worthy of emulation.

A little more internet researching and we found this excellent article from Virginia Tech Magazine. It includes portions of his letters to home and a few photos.

He seemed to be satisfied with his role in the war: “… I would not change if I were given the chance–even to have some easy job in the rear area. Of course I can’t say that should I ever be lucky enough to have a son that I would want him to go through something like this. But if events forced him I would want him to prove himself…. As for the 1st Division, every time I look at the shoulder insignia (the red one) I get a thrill–there is no better fighting unit in the world. When the Germans were confident of victory on several occasions and all circumstances were against the 1st, the men rose to the occasion and hurled them back in great confusion and disorder…. There is a great feeling of satisfaction that one gets within oneself. I would not change.”

Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Magazine

It’s an amazing coincidence that one of our writers was walking a cemetery over 3,000 miles away found a bit of Richmond history. Personally I’m thankful to learn just a little bit about a Richmonder that paid the ultimate price so many years ago on a beach in France.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Downtown

RVA Legends — Jaquelin Taylor Row

A look into the history of Richmond places that are no longer a part of our landscape.

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[HOR] — looking towards 1108-1112 Capitol Street — note Old City Hall at left

1108-1112 Capitol Street
Built, 1845
Demolished, 1938

Fie upon the modern indelicacies of attending to business!

[HOR] — detail of 1112 Capitol Street

[HOR] — detail of 1112 Capitol Street

This row of three houses was built in 1844-45 by Jaquelin P. Taylor on the site of the modest frame dwelling of Jacob Cohen. Mr. Taylor had come to Richmond as a young man from Orange County, and as a large importer of dry-goods he had built up a considerable fortune. In his obituary notice he is said to have been one of the oldest and most respected citizens of Richmond, whose name was synonymous with the word probity. Executor of William Barret, he was in process of winding up his friend’s affairs when he died suddenly in January, 1872, just after celebrating his seventy-fifth birthday.

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 5 — showing the occupation of Jacquelin Taylor Row by the T. R. Price Estate and the Richardsons

(VCU) — 1889 Baist Atlas Map of Richmond — Plate 5 — showing the occupation of Jacquelin Taylor Row by the T. R. Price Estate and the Richardsons

The two easternmost houses in the row remained the property of Mr. Taylor’s heirs as late as 1910. He left no children, but his wife’s family, the Richardsons, who during Mr. and Mrs. Taylor’s lifetime had occupied the middle house, later moved into the one at Twelfth and Capitol, which had been the Taylors’ own home. The Misses Jane and Harriet Richardson and their two brothers are remembered as “characters” by all those who knew them. One brother, who was very tall, was often seen in the Capitol Square, feeding the squirrels, with whom he was so gentle that they ate out of his hand without fear.

(Find A Grave) — Judge Beverley Tucker Crump

(Find A Grave) — Judge Beverley Tucker Crump

The Misses Richardson were unadjusted to such modern indelicacies as ladies attending to business, so Judge Beverley Crump, who had charge of their affairs, had to bring them what money they needed in cash every month: going to a bank would have been quite out of the question for them. Mr. Jaquelin P. Taylor II, a great-nephew and namesake of the builder of these houses, recalls that when he came to Richmond as a youth he had to pay regular Sunday visits to the Richardsons and that he put up with the inevitable attendance at church for the sake of the excellent dinner that always followed.

(Chronicling America) — advertisement, Richmond Times — Sunday, May 12, 1895

(Chronicling America) — advertisement, Richmond Times — Sunday, May 12, 1895

The westernmost house was sold in 1851 to Thomas R. Price, a leading citizen of his day. In 1833 he had founded the well known dry-goods store of Thos. R. Price and Company, of which he was head at the time of his death in 1868. Under various names, Fourqurean and Price, Fourqurean, Price and Temple, etc. this concern survived well into the twentieth century. Mr. Price’s son Edward is remembered by Mr. Munford (and by this writer) as an usher at St. Paul’s over a long period of years. “A man of patrician appearance and of courtly manner, Mr. Price gave distinction to the old Church he so faithfully attended and served.”

(Lee’s Lieutenants, Army of Northern Virginia, Inc) — Johann August Henrich Heros von Borcke

(Lee’s Lieutenants, Army of Northern Virginia, Inc) — Johann August Henrich Heros von Borcke

Major von Borcke, the German officer on Jeb Stuart’s staff, tells in his memoirs of a visit to the Prices in this house in 1884. He had cared for Channing Price, when the latter was mortally wounded at his side, and ever since the Civil War the family had cherished von Borcke’s sword, which had barely escaped destruction when Mr. Price’s store was burned.

(Fandom) — Ford’s Hotel in the 19th century

(Fandom) — Ford’s Hotel in the 19th century

The Price family owned No. 1108 up to 1903, when it was bought by Gilbert K. Pollack, a member of the City Council who built himself an office on Broad Street. In 1911 and 1912 all three houses were sold to the City. During the next twenty-five years a game of battledore and shuttlecock went on between City and State for possession of the site, known (from Ford’s Hotel which had stood to the west of the Taylor houses) as the Ford Lot.

January 2020 — the former eastern extent of Capitol Street

January 2020 — the former eastern extent of Capitol Street

Meanwhile the houses were occupied by various worthy organizations, notably by the Juvenile Court (which had its beginnings there), the Tuberculosis Association, and the Academy of Arts, the last two organizations remaining, respectively, in 1112 and 1108-10 until the buildings were about to be demolished over their heads. It was finally decided that the projected State Library was to occupy the site, and in 1938 they were pulled down.

January 2020 — former Leigh Street Baptist Church

January 2020 — former Leigh Street Baptist Church

Together with Linden Row, the Jaquelin Taylor houses were the finest example of the rows of houses built during the ’forties and ’fifties. In some respects these were superior to Linden Row. The porches, with their delicate Corinthian columns, and the fences with pineapple posts like those of the contemporary Norman Stewart and Barret houses were particularly beautiful. Mr. Taylor’s own home, 1112 Capitol, was further adorned with an exquisite iron balcony on the Capitol Street side.

[HOR] | January 2020 — comparison of the fencing at Jaquelin Taylor Row and the former Leigh Street Baptist Church

[HOR] | January 2020 — comparison of the fencing at Jaquelin Taylor Row and the former Leigh Street Baptist Church

During the demolition, the corner house was found to have a curious and interesting dome above the well of the stair, which was a continuous spiral from the bottom to the top of the house. When the houses were demolished the fence was given to Leigh Street Baptist Church, where it is now installed, and the balcony and front entrances to the Valentine Museum. The balcony is now in the garden of the Museum. [HOR]

January 2020 — looking towards 1108-1112 Capitol Street

January 2020 — looking towards 1108-1112 Capitol Street

As Ms. Scott relates, this block of Capitol Street would change radically in the wake of the new State Library that replaced both Ford’s Hotel and the Jacquelin Taylor Row in 1938. That it is a handsome art deco building in its own right compensates somewhat for the loss of the older houses. Auld lang syne.

Things were changed again in 1997 when the library relocated to its third location at 800 East Broad Street. The old location transformed into the Patrick Henry Executive Office Building, and this end of Capitol Street was filled in to make a driveway for the Commonwealth’s fleet of gubernatorial SUVs.

(Jaquelin Taylor Row is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [HOR] Houses of Old Richmond. Mary Wingfield Scott. 1941.

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Downtown

Must-See RVA! — Scott-Clarke House

A look into the history of Richmond places that are still part of our landscape.

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January 2020

9 South Fifth Street
Built, 1841
January 2020

Home to an entertaining talker.

[HOR]

[HOR]

The dwelling generally called the Clarke house was built in 1841 by James Scott. The executors of John Allan’s estate had sold Scott the quarter-square that had once been part of the garden of “Moldavia,” and James Scott sold the corner at Cary Street to William Barret and built his own home just south of the Allan house. Scott was one of the tobacconists who gravitated to Fifth Street in the ’forties. Born in Scotland in 1773, he had emigrated to Virginia in 1798, first settling in Manchester, where he was in the tobacco export business. He married the daughter of Archibald Freeland.

[HOR]

[HOR]

For about twenty years he lived in Freeland’s house on what is now Bainbridge Street. Mr. Scott died in 1861. His wife continued until her death in 1876 to live in their Fifth Street house with her daughter Ellen, who had married Captain Maxwell T. Clarke.

January 2020

January 2020

Apparently Captain Clarke was a great favorite, and his name is that most identified with the house in the minds of older Richmonders. He had served in both the army and the navy of the Confederacy and for many years was in the leaf tobacco business with his brother-in-law James A. Scott, under the firm name of Scott and Clarke.

[RVCJ03] — R. L. Christian & Co. at 816 East Main Street, circa 1903

[RVCJ03] — R. L. Christian & Co. at 816 East Main Street, circa 1903

In later years he was assistant cashier of R. L. Christian and Co. Mr. Munford describes Captain Clarke as “erect, of patrician appearance, and a most entertaining talker.” An elder of the nearby Second Presbyterian Church, he was buried from there when he died at eighty-one in 1911.

January 2020

January 2020

The house had been sold in 1897 and has since passed through many hands. In appearance it is a curious compromise between the problem “to stucco or not to stucco,” which every builder in the ’forties must have faced. The Clarke house was not stuccoed, but was painted a light color, now partly worn off and not unattractive. It has a belt-course as well as window sills and a porch of granite. The rear porch has square pillars, the entrance porch Doric columns.

January 2020

January 2020

Inside, the arrangement is similar to that of the Bransford house—a square entrance hall, the stair to the left, and two rooms across the back. The trim is much less elaborate, and the mantels are for the most part of wood.

January 2020

January 2020

Today, the old house is leased as office space, a nice retirement gig for a 179-year-old house. Currently, it’s the home of Canal Capital Management.

(Scott-Clarke House is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [HOR] Houses of Old Richmond. Mary Wingfield Scott. 1941.
  • [RVCJ03] Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James: The Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests. G. W. Engelhardt. 1903.

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Downtown

GRTC Pulse riders can now experience Richmond history by scanning QR codes at bus stations

Pulse riders are one scan away from experiencing Richmond history thanks to a partnership between the Valentine, GRTC, and VCU. 

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Thanks to an innovative partnership between the Valentine, GRTC and Virginia Commonwealth University, riders will be able to use QR codes at each of the 14 Pulse stops across the city to access easily-digestible Richmond stories.

Each QR code links riders to a webpage showcasing nearby sites of interest, upcoming events and a brief history of the area, complete with archival photos.

“We’re so happy to be working with two such distinguished Richmond institutions,” GRTC Chief Executive Officer Julie Timm said. “GRTC is dedicated to serving the community, and this is another opportunity to help Richmonders navigate their city.”

The QR codes can be found on the glass map illustrations of each Pulse platform. The Valentine provided research support for the project, developing relevant, accessible content for each stop in a way that riders can easily interact with.

Explore the Past on the Pulse is about engaging riders and providing opportunities for Richmonders to learn more about the spaces and the neighborhoods they frequent,” said Valentine Director Bill Martin. “This project makes Richmond history more accessible because you don’t have to go track this information down. Instead, the information comes to you, wherever you are.”

Dr. John Kneebone, VCU professor emeritus, was instrumental in developing Explore the Past on the Pulse and worked with graduate students to develop an early iteration of the project.

“This project appealed to me as a teacher because my History graduate students could apply their skills and abilities to coursework with an obvious real-world application,” Dr. Kneebone said. “I tested the project the summer before class and it was very feasible. As a class project, too, it enabled the students to both collaborate and work individually. At semester’s end, the students presented their work to the Valentine and GRTC. Today when I ride the Pulse, I find myself engaged historically with my whereabouts, and now other riders can, too.”

As part of their ongoing class project, VCU students also provided technical and content feedback on Explore the Past on the Pulse.

You too can Explore the Past on the Pulse at any of the 14 Pulse Stops across the city by using your phone to scan the QR codes available at each Pulse station or directly through the GRTC website.

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