FIRST BLACK RESIDENT IN HIGHLAND COUNTY
David Franklin Trimble, who was born 1717 in Scotland, decided to move to the Colonies. Sometime after arriving, he married Mary Elizabeth Houston in Augusta, Virginia. They had three children. James, who was born in 1747, was their oldest. Mary died at age of 49, but David lived until he was 82, dying in Montgomery, Kentucky.
James Trimble, who was a captain in the military during the Revolution, and his wife, Jane Clark, had 12 children. Thomas Trimble was born in 1787 in Woodford, Kentucky. His actual parentage is not proven, as the reality of slave ownership was that the owner of the slaves sometimes fathered children with female slaves. From two unions are born several children. The family says that Thomas was actually an emancipated slave of Captain James Trimble.
It is known that Captain James Trimble decided to free his slaves, come to Ohio and buy land to move here. He purchased land in 1802 in the Fallsville area. In 1804, he returned to Ohio, planted an orchard and built a cabin, then went back to Kentucky to continue his plans to move the family to Ohio. Captain Trimble became sick and died. However, his widow completed his dream, moving the family to the Hillsboro area in about 1804.
Her oldest son was 21-year-old Allen Trimble, who became one of Ohio’s governors. Allen built a blacksmith shop in 1808 close to the town, on the site where St. Mary’s Episcopal Church now stands. Tom Trimble, who worked there as an apprentice, was the first permanent Black resident of Highland County. Tom Trimble married Nancy Williams and their son, Moses, was born on June 5, 1836, one of seven children. When Moses was 20 years old, he married Miss Lucy Ann Elliott and together they had 12 children.
When the War Between the States broke out, Moses, then 28, enlisted on Feb. 28, 1865, for one year of service. He was sent off to serve with Company H, 3rd Regiment of the United Stated Colored Heavy Artillery. The 3rd Regiment had been organized from the 1st Tennessee Heavy Artillery, African Descent, and served as the garrison at Fort Pickering and in defenses of Memphis, Tennessee and in the District of West Tennessee. While serving there, Moses became sick with a fever and the chills, the illness lasting nearly three months. He was honorably discharged at Memphis on Feb. 27, 1866. Moses remained in Hillsboro for the rest of his life, passing on Sept. 18, 1913.
Moses Trimble is buried in the Hillsboro Cemetery. He lay there for 106 years with no tombstone. John Glaze, a member of Highland County Historical Society, worked with Craig Turner of the Turner Funeral Home and the local Veterans Service Office to secure a government marker for Moses. It was installed in 2019, 106 years after his death.
This story is an excerpt from the book “Black History of Highland County” authored by Kati Burwinkel, Myra Cumberland Phillips and John Glaze. The book is available through the Highland County Historical Society.