Samuel Trotman, A Vintage Vignette

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Samuel Trotman
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
September 10, 2008

In 1986 when I moved to Madison after spending about 15 years in the metropolitan areas of Houston, Texas, and San Francisco, California, it took me a little while to appreciate that many of the folks in the community were related. That certainly had not been my previous experience in the aerospace communities where I had been living. Of course, since that time, Madison has itself become an aerospace community of people from all over. By undertaking my hobby of research into the pioneer families of Madison, I have gained further awareness of the interconnections that bind the area families together.

One of the families central to the early establishment and survival of the town of Madison was the Trotman line. Trotmans of the area intermarried with the pioneer families of Farley, Crutcher, Barbee, Carter, Tribble, Williams, Whitworth, Dublin, McGaha, Beadle, Nail (Nale), and Hardiman, among others. Some of these surnames are found on tombstones in the Farley-Crutcher Cemetery, located about a quarter mile south of Miller Boulevard’s intersection with Old Madison Pike, east of Shelton Road and west of Horizon Elementary School. The cemetery is on land that was initially owned from 1818 by Michael Farley, who was married to Sarah Trotman. He also had a half-sister, Sarah Farley, who married Dr. Thomas Barbee Trotman. The earliest birthdate on a tombstone that was known to be there until sometime after the 1970s was for Samuel Trotman. That tombstone is now missing, but the base of the headstone and the associated footstone remain to show the location of the grave.

Virginia was the birthplace of Samuel Trotman, born on March 4, 1794. According to descendant Tillman Williams, Trotman’s father was another Samuel Trotman, an Englishman who came to America in 1774 as an indentured servant on “The Sampson”, a ship sailing from London. The senior Samuel fought in the American Revolution and married Catherine Barnet in 1783 as the war for independence concluded. The junior Samuel married Mary Francis Aday on December 12, 1827 in Madison County. The nine known children of this couple were Yancy Preston, Martha Ann, Micajah, Elkanah, Cornelia, Emily, Hilry (Hillery, a male), Sarah, and Mary. Cornelia Jane Trotman in 1858 married Joseph D. Williams and became the mother of one of Madison’s wealthiest pioneer citizens, James E. Williams, who lived at 19 Front Street in the early 1900s. Joseph and Cornelia left a daughter buried in the Farley-Crutcher Cemetery before they moved to Arkansas. The tombstone of Sarah Taylor Williams (1877-1880) has recently been broken. Hopefully it will someday be repaired to continue the commemoration of the short life of this little sister of Jim Williams.

Through Mary Aday, the wife of Samuel Trotman Jr., local descendants are linked to numerous notables of America and England. Mary was a daughter of Levi Aday. Her grandfather Walter Aday (born in Virginia in 1747) was married to Mary Maxey. Her Maxey line and other Trotman ancestors are reported on to tie to English authors Alfred Tennyson, Jane Austen, and Elizabeth Browning, as well as to American poet Emily Dickinson. The links also connect to Virginia-born Lady Nancy Langhorne Astor, first female member of the English House of Commons. Lady Astor is famous for her conflicts with Winston Churchill. Closer to home, there is a Trotman relationship to Presidents Bush, Gerald Ford, James A. Garfield, and Rutherford B. Hayes. Additionally, the Trotmans are connected to the wives of Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman, Theodore Roosevelt, and Grover Cleveland. Other American notable links include Eli Whitney, Howard Hughes, and Robert Goddard. Even Sir Isaac Newton is listed as a distant relative, as are outlaws Frank and Jesse James and actresses Bette Davis, Shirley Temple, and Audrey Hepburn. As with us all, there are gene pool connections to the brilliant and the average, the good and the bad, and the ugly and the beautiful. On the whole, the Trotman heritage is among the best of America, and it has served Madison well.

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