Colonel William E. Fife

all rights reserved © 1997, 2015 – Steven R. Teeft


The FIFE clan starts with, EDWARD Fife. Edward Fife was a native of Pennsylvania, who later moved to Winchester, VA then to Allegeney County, VA. It was there he married Miss Davis of South Carolina. They had 4 sons and 1 daughter. Edward and his son JOHN were veterans of the war of 1812.

His son THOMAS (the father of our subject) was born in Allegeny Co. in November 1800. Thomas later lived in Charleston in 1815 and became a carpenter’s apprentice. In 1836 Thomas purchased a farm of 700 acres in Putnam Co., VA In 1843 he became a very prominent contractor & builder and he was known to have built some of the best building in that part of the state.

Thomas married REBECCA C. (ESTILL) Fife. Rebecca was born Oct 29,1809. They had 4 children: Mary K, William E, Charles T and Julia A. Thomas died August 25,1865 and Rebecca passed on February 29, 1843.

WILLIAM ESTILL was born February 7,1834 in Charleston, Va. He was schooled at the old Mercer Academy, graduated from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Va in July 1855. Afterwards studied law and admitted to the bar in in 1857 (but never practiced) and lived with his father. In 1859 a call to arms was heard and militia companies were being formed all over the state, with the capture of John Brown and his raiders at Harpers Ferry, in fear of another upraising. On November 1,1859 – William was chosen Captain of the “Buffalo Guards” a militia company from Putnam County. Shortly after the guns were fired from Ft. Sumpter, Virginia Succeeded from the union, and the Buffalo Guards enlisted in the Confederate army on May 13,1861 were accepted into the Confederate service on July 1,1861, and 1st reported as a unorganized command known as the 3rd Kanawha Infantry, and was disbanded in late July 1861. There first action was at Scary Creek,Va in July 16,1861. The Buffalo Guards became Company A, of the 36th Virginia Infantry Regiment in August 1861, and fought their first battle at Cross Lanes,Va on August 26, 1861.

Captain Fife was slightly wounded in the battle. William was promoted to Major in 1863 and again promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in March 1864. Col. Fife was wounded in the head at Cedar Creek, Va on Oct.19,1864. The colonel returned to the regiment, and was present at the time the 36th Va Infantry disbanded at Christainsburg,Va in April 1865. William returned home & took a oath of allegance on June 20,1865.

In 1870 William Fife was elected president of the county court and reelected in 1874. We held thast postition for 8 years. William owned a good Kanawha river farm of some 350 acres in his post war years and was concidered a good farmer.

Colonel Fife was involved with the Confederate Veterans organization in his later years and held the post of Commander in the Camp Patton, camp #1 of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) of Charleston,WV.

Colonel William Estill Fife was killed on the morning of July 4th,1891 in a train wreck, just a few miles south of Charleston on the Kanawha & Michigan Railroad.

William was buried on July 6th, his casket was drapped with the flag he served under, and was buried with the sword he carried during the great conflict. He was a devoted Christain and a free mason. William is resting in his families plot at Springhill Cemetery, overlooking the city of Charleston and the Kanawha river.


  • Files of Steve Teeft
  • Burial of Col. William E Fife, unpublished source from Tom Fife.
  • National Archives, record group 109, compiled service records of the Confederate soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Virginia. 36th Va Infantry. Microfilm M3324, rolls 821-831
  • Confederate Veteran, 1893-1932
  • WV state Archives in Charleston,WV