Martin Van Buren Monarch

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Sketch of M. V. Monarch

M. V. Monarch of Owensboro, king of the whiskey trade in Kentucky, known throughout the world as the manufacturer of the famous “Monarch” brand of whiskey, respected and loved by his neighbors and fellow-citizens, charitable toward those who need a helping hand, phenomenally successful in business and possessing a magnificent fortune, is a native of the county of which he has been a resident all his life. He is a son of Thomas and Susan (Daviess) Monarch and was born March 10, 1842. His father was born in Maryland, March 25, 1801. He was educated in Washington County, Kentucky and, on reaching manhood, engaged in farming in that county, subsequently removing to Marion County, where he lived until 1832, when he removed to Daviess County and became one of the most popular citizens, and was a prominent farmer until the day of his death, November 13, 1881. In the earlier years of his life, he was a Whig of pronounced convictions, but he did not follow his party until its dissolution. He foresaw the inevitable, and believing the principles of the Democratic party were more in accord with his views, he was welcomed to the ranks of that party in 1852 and was ever after that a prominent figure in the councils of the local Democracy. He was proverbially kind, generous and honest; a member of the Catholic Church and an excellent citizen. His father was a native of France who came to America soon after the Declaration of Independence and was a farmer in Maryland, where he died in 1842.

Susan Daviess Monarch (mother) was born in Washington County, Kentucky, April 13, 1801. She was a lady of great intelligence and decision of character; dignified, yet kind and respectful, and stood by her convictions unflinchingly and impressed those who knew her as a woman who would have filled any station in high life with credit to her sex. She left her impress upon the community in which she lived and died, having done her duty. She survived her husband until May 14, 1889, rounding out a useful and noble life of a little more than eighty eight years. Mrs. Monarch’s family (Daviess) was a branch of the original English family from which Jefferson Davis was descended, although the name was spelled differently, and her people were among the pioneers of Daviess County, which received their name.

M. V. Monarch inherited many of the fine traits of character for which his mother and her ancestors were distinguished. Under the immediate direction of his mother, his receptive mind was well trained. He was kept in school until twenty years of age, finishing in Cecilian College in Hardin County in 1865. He began his business career in the same year, buying and selling tobacco, in which he made a good start. He soon abandoned this, however, and engaged in distilling, operating alone until 1870, when he entered into partnership with E. P. Payne. The business of the concern grew into magnificent proportions and the concern was subsequently incorporated as the M. V. Monarch Mercantile Company, with Mr. Monarch as president, a position which he has held continuously until the present time. Messrs. Monarch and Payne were the principal stockholders and owners until the death of Mr. Payne, September 9, 1895, a calamity which did not disturb the business of the corporation to the extent that would have resulted under a partnership arrangement.

In this establishment the famous Monarch whiskey, known all over the world, is manufactured under Mr. Monarch’s personal supervision; but he is also a large shareholder and owner in two other distillery companies, of which he is president, The John Banning Distillery Company and the famous Sour Mash Distillery Company. He is a large stockholder in the Owensboro National Bank and has other investments in business enterprises in Owensboro, besides his elegant home and other real estate. He is receiver of the Owensboro, Falls of Rough & Green River Railroad Company, by appointment of Court.

Mr. Monarch is one of the most public spirited men in Owensboro and is identified with all public measures looking to the improvement of the city and the advancement of society. It is known, moreover, among his neighbors, although he has sacredly guarded the fact as a secret, that he and his estimable wife are most generous in their donations to the cause of charity, while their liberality to the worthy poor, in the way of private charity, approaches extravagance. Mr. Monarch’s home is an ideal one, and his devotion to his family is one of his most beautiful traits. He is known far and wide for his unstinted liberality and his hospitable entertainment of friends and strangers. Handsome in his personal appearance, gentle in manner, of kind and pleasing address, easy of approach, ready to respond to every appeal, or to lend a helping hand in any good work, he is unquestionably one of the best and most popular citizens of Owensboro.

Mr. Monarch was married September 20, 1869, to Elizabeth Ann O’Bryan, who was born December 23, 1844, and was educated in St. Francis Academy in Owensboro. She is a daughter of William O’Bryan and is in hearty accord and sympathy with her companion, being a devoted wife and ideal mother. They have a happy family of five children, who are somewhat scattered at present. Jessie, their first child, died in infancy; Henry Lamar, born May 11, 1872, is now in the law department of the Catholic University, Washington, D. C, being the first student enrolled on the books after the inauguration of that department in this famous institution; Daniel D., born August 14, 1874, is contracting agent for the C. & O. Railroad; Erminie, born June 11, 1876, now a pupil in St. Mary College, near Notre Dame, Indiana; M. V. Monarch, Jr., born September 14, 1878, is a student in Notre Dame College, Indiana; Benita, born May 23, 1881, is at home. It is the purpose of the parents of these young people, whose prospects for a happy future are now so bright, to give them the advantages of a complete and thorough education, so that they may be prepared for whatever may befall them in after life.

Mr. and Mrs. Monarch are members of the Catholic Church. Mr. Monarch voted the Democratic ticket until the nomination of James G. Blaine for President, at which time he voted the Republican ticket, and has affiliated with the latter party since that date.

Source: Biographical Cyclopedia of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. John M. Gresham Company, Chicago, Philadelphia, 1896.