from Independence Pioneers Volume II

published 1989


24  Trimble Family Among Earliest Settlers

by Arvie E. “Bubba” Burks

     The author of this article is a civics teacher at Batesville Junior High School.  He is an active member of the Batesville Genealogical Society, the Independence County Historical Society, and the Civil War Roundtable.

     The Trimble family of Independence County can be traced with authority to Walter T. Trimble and his wife, Rosannah, who resided in Augusta county, Virginia, as early as 1741.  This couple sold 320 acres on Free Mason’s Run of the North River there in the Shenandoah Valley to their son, Robert, in 1765 and moved on to Graville (now Abbeville) County, South Carolina.  There Walter Trimble received a certificate for 200 acres on the waters of the Northwest Fork of Long Cane Creek in July 1766.

     Later the Trimbles, or at least Rosannah, moved to West Tennessee, where she died in 1801.  She was residing in Tennessee at the time with her daughter and son-in-law, Michael and Margaret Trimble Woods, and Michael Woods’ “Age Book," a sort of diary, described the events of her death:

     “Mother Trimble Dropt down in the floor Saturday ye 18th Feby and became a bedrid. & died ye 28 Feby 1801 About an hour after Sundown, Day Light nearly gon in the West & was Burried ye 1 of March in the Evning Satterday died & Sunday Burried (about 100 years old.)”

     Walter and Rosannah were the parents of four known children—daughter Margaret Woods and sons Robert, John, and William.  Robert, with his wife, Hannah Moffitt, moved to Bourbon County, Kentucky in 1784.  Later he moved to the mouth of the Cumberland River in Livingston County.  In Kentucky Robert became known as a great hunter and Indian fighter.  He is believed to be the ancestor of all the Arkansas Trimbles.

     “Old Bob” Trimble had six sons and a grandson who pioneered into the White River Valley before Arkansas was even a territory.  Some of his sons were surveyors and were well-known in this profession in both Kentucky and Arkansas.

     Most sources agree that the first Trimble to arrive in the White River country was James G., a grandson of Old Bob through his son John.  Young James is believed to have come with the Lafferty party in 1810, helping to drive a herd of cattle overland and helping to establish a settlement upriver from the mouth of Poke Bayou.  The following year, again citing various accounts, young James’ father, John Trimble, accompanied by his brothers, Walter, Joseph, William, and Robert Jr., and maybe also by the patriarch Old Bob, came to this area by floating and poling keelboats down the Mississippi and up the White River.

     John Trimble and young James G. Trimble moved on upriver into what is now Izard County and settled in the area of Dolph.  Here they established the Trimble Campground, where religious services were held and where many of their branch of the family lie buried.

     Walter Trimble eventually moved downriver and settled near Des Arc.  Joseph, the third brother, made his home in what is now Jackson County but died in 1836 while surveying along the Arkansas-Texas boundary with yet another brother, James.

     William Trimble was shot in Baxter County about 1820, as related below, and Robert Jr., the youngest brother, supposedly fled to Texas after shooting a lawman.  The lines of John, Walter, Joseph, William, and Robert Jr. have not been traced in this article.  Information about them is available in a book, “Walter & Rosannah Trimble & Their Descendants,” by Lena Mae Elam, available through the Independence County Historical Society

     The arrival of yet another Trimble, researched and written for the Independence County Chronicle by Virginia McAdams in July 1960, has a John Trimble arriving with the well-known Hartwell Boswell in the summer of 1820.  In an article entitled “Hartwell Boswell,” Miss McAdams noted that Boswell and Trimble both had received appointments from the federal government in that year—Boswell as register of the Land Office, Lawrence County District, Arkansas Territory, headquarters at Davidsonville, and Trimble as receiver of public monies. 

     Her article goes on to say that both men traveled alone, not wishing to subject their families to the “warm and sticky season” in Arkansas.  They notified the land commissioner of their arrival in Davidsonville on July 23, 1820.  It is possible that this is the John Trimble who had already come to Arkansas with the earlier part but McAdams’ text does not identify him further.

     The Trimble name appears often in the legends and folklore of the upper White River.  Duane Huddleston contributed an interesting article to the Independence County Chronicle in July of 1973 entitled “Sweet Lips Has Spoken.”  Based on an old story told around Calico Rock, the article told of the murder of William Trimble by a man named Grant.  According to the legend, “Sweep Lips” was the name William Trimble had given to his rifle, while the man Grant called his gun “Jack of Diamonds.”  The two men may have quarreled back in Kentucky, or the shooting may have been a result of a drunken brawl, but after William Trimble was shot, Grant was quoted as saying: “Sweet Lips has spoken a big word, and the Jack of Diamonds will speak another soon.”  By this he meant that he had shot Trimble with Trimble’s own gun and that he planned to shoot someone else later with his weapon.  William Trimble was said to be “the most daring and best known” of all the sons of Robert Trimble who had come to the White River Valley from Kentucky in 1811.

     Another account of a Trimble killing was told by Judge A. C. Jeffery in the Melbourne Clipper in 1877.  This story had young Jim Trimble, “perhaps a son of old Bob,” supposedly murdering a young man named Jeff Jones toward whom he held a grudge.  Jim Trimble was arrested and put into a strongly guarded log house.  Judge Jeffery’s account continues:

     That night Jim Trimble had laid down, and there being a crack near him, he took a stool and laid it on its edge between him and the crack.  Soon after there seemed to be an owl screech on a hill not far distant.  The officer and the guard aroused up and stood on their feet around the fire.  Soon after, a gun was fired in at the crack next to Jim Trimble; the ball passed through (his) body.  He sprang to his feet and fell on the hearth dead.

     This was an unidentified Jim Trimble, because it is known that the young James G. Trimble, son of John, lived in Izard County until his death in 1865.  Another James Trimble, a son of Old Bob who apparently did not come with the rest of the family in 1811, arrived from Kentucky with his wife, Elizabeth Steward Trimble in 1815, and settled in the Greenbrier bottoms.  Whatever the date of his first arrival in the county, and despite all the legends and folklore concerning the family, it is a fact that this latter James Trimble acquired land in Greenbrier and Christian  townships, and it is his line with which the rest of this article is concerned.

     James Trimble [son of Old Bob] became active in the political and religious affairs of the county, being, for example, one of the speakers at the grand jubilee celebration held on the Fourth of July, 1822, in Batesville.  On this occasion he made a toast to the health of Arkansas Territory and wished that it might soon become a state.  He was also a charter member of the independence County Temperance Society, established in 1831.

     Trimble’s probate records show that at his death in 1841 he owned 160 acres in Greenbrier bottoms, west of what is now Desha, and at least one slave.  He wife had died in 1836.

     James and Elizabeth Steward Trimble had nine children:

    1.  Walker Wallace Trimble, born in 1808 in Kentucky, attended the Arkansas Constitutional convention in 1836 and died in 1840 in Van Buren.

    2.  Moffett Edrington Trimble (sometimes called Moses), born in 1809.   He served with Captain Jesse Bean’s company of Mounted Rangers, enlisting in 1832 for one year, and later moved on to Texas.

    3.  Harriett Trimble, born in 1812.  She married Thomas Carter, a surveyor in Independence County for many years, having learned his profession from his father-in-law.  They had a large family and surely have local descendants, but the line has not been traced.  Harriett died in 1872 and is buried in Carter Cemetery in McHue Township.  [See 1860 census, page 114:  Green Briar Township  -  #2138 Thomas S. Carter, age 56, born VA; Harriet age 47, born KY, 7 kids – Albert, 20, clerk, AR; Harriet, 19, AR; Mary, 15, AR; Sarah, 15, AR; Henry C., farmer, AR; Virginia C., 13, AR; Jennet A., 10, AR; Laura, 6, AR]

    4.  Jackson S. Trimble, born in 1815 in Kentucky, and died in 1897 at Sulphur Rock.  His only daughter, Elvira, married Joseph Wright.

     Jackson Trimble was a prominent citizen of Independence County, serving nine years in the Arkansas State Senate and four years in the House of Representatives.  He served in the confederate Mail Service in the State of Texas during the Civil War, then after the war returned here and served as county treasurer.

    5.  Milton Trimble, born in Independence County in 1818, married Mary Celeta Simpson in Lawrence County.

     6.  John W. Trimble, born in Batesville in 1820.  He married Malinda Baker in 1843 and died in 1849 leaving two small daughters.  Malinda died a few years later, and this line has not been traced.

    7.  Mary Trimble, born in 1821.  Her first marriage, on August 31, 1843, was to Richard M. Saunders, who was killed at the Battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican War in 1847 while serving as standard bearer for Captain Andrew Porter’s company.  Captain Franklin W. Desha, who took command after the death of Captain Porter, reported:  “The gallant and faithful Corporal Saunders received no fewer than 17 lance wounds in his body.”

     In 1849 Mary Trimble married John Warnock, who had previously been employed in the surveyor-general’s office in St. Louis and was probably acquainted with the Trimble men who were surveyors.  The marriage license gives Warnock’s age at the time of this marriage as 49, but he was actually 62 according to family records.  He must have appeared much younger than his actually years.  One daughter, Mariah Ann, was born to this marriage in 1850.

     John Warnock was a school teacher in Independence County until his death in 1857.  He is believed to be buried in the Carter Cemetery, but no marker has been found.  An entry in Henry Neill’s Tanyard Book shows that Dillon Odle, carpenter, made the coffin:  “March 18, 1857—coffin for John Warnock, $5.00.”

     Two years later Mary Trimble Saunders Warnock also died, leaving young Mariah Ann an orphan.  Her uncle, Jackson S. Trimble, was appointed her guardian and she lived with his family until 1870, then with other relatives until her marriage to Charles G. McCulloh of Greenbriar Township in 1884.  The McCullohs are buried in the Alderbrook Cemetery at Desha.

     Charles G. and Mariah Warnock McCulloh were the grandparents of Mildred Burks Elms, Ura Fae Burks Kramer, Wanda Burks Johnston, and the author.  They were also the grandparents of Jimmie Jean Pate Bowman of Shreveport, Louisiana, who contributed much of the research material on the Trimble family.

    8.  Harvey S. Trimble, born in 1824, went to Texas and died there in 1848.

    9.   James Trimble, born in 1827, also went to Texas.

     Information about these last two Trimble lines may also be found in the Elam book cited previously.

     After the Trimble article appeared in the Guard, a letter was received from Mrs. Effie Edmondson, contributor of other articles to the “Pioneers” series.  She wrote, in part”

     “I would like to thank Arvie Burks for this article about the Trimbles, who were his ancestors and also mine.  I knew that my great-great-grandfather was a Trimble, but didn’t know his name was James and didn’t know any of the other relatives mentioned.

     “I can add the names of Thomas and Harriet Trimble’s seven daughters, but I do not know the first names of all their husbands.  The daughters were Eliza, who married a Morrison; Sarah married Lev Finley; Mary (twin to Sarah) married George McClendon (my grandparents); Lou married Anderson Kelley; Janet married Will Allen; Caroline married Buck White; Harriet married a Smart.

     “Mariah Ann Warnock McCulloh, Arvie’s grandmother, was my third cousin.  We called her Cousin Mariah as we had been taught.  I got to know her better when I taught the 1826-1927 term at Locust Grove School.

     “I boarded with Mariah’s daughter, Ora Lovell, and her husband Claude.  Cousin Mariah also lived there.  They were lovely people, and I enjoyed my stay in their home very much.  It was during that term of school that I met my husband, Offie Edmondson.  We had 56 good years together before his death.

     “Some other descendants of Thomas and Harriet Trimble Carter still living in this area are Harriet Cartwright and children, Clara Wyatt and children, Maria Hindman, Monnie Wilcox and children, Jesse Presley and children, Jeff Kelley, Lucille Kimmer Maris, and Wynon Lynch.


1.  Lena Mae Elam, “Walter and Rosannah Trimble & Their Descendants.”

2.  Courthouse records.

3.  Family records

4.  “Sweet Lips Has Spoken” by Duane Huddleston in the Independence County Chronicle, Vol. XIV, No. 4, July 1973.

5.  “Hartwell Boswell” by Virginia McAdams in the Chronicle, Vol. 1, No. 4, July 1960.



For more information contact Liz Burns Glenn

May 28, 2013