Copy of letter from ELIZA TRIMBLE (aged 90), dated May 1, 1906 at Ballard, Washington, to Winifred Markee Miles, 49 Astor St., Chicago, in reply to a request for information regarding the early history of the Trimble family. [Where Eliza Trimble has mentioned the daughters of the immigrant Trimble, I have inserted the names, dates and place of marriage in brackets. She also skips a generation in one reference that is contradicted elsewhere, in naming James Trimble as Winifred Markee Miless grandfather, instead of great-grandfather. When this is corrected, both her letter and WMMs coincide. JM]
Dear friend and relative:
I have just received your package of letters of inquiry concerning the Trimble family, our ancestors, back. to their emigration from their native country to America, all of which I will try to do as far as I have any knowledge that I have of them by information that I got from my husbands father, Joseph Trimble, which I have often heard him relate.
I see by your dates that you havn't any knowledge of their ancestry any farther back that to James Trimble, the father of Joseph Trimble, your mothers uncle, - but I can go one generation beyond that.
Joseph Trimbles grandfather was a native of either Ireland or Scotland. I disremember which, and was a Catholic in his religion. His given name I dont remember, but I think it was James. He boarded a merchant vessel when he left his native land, - he and a fellow partner of the same country, - bound for America. They were captured by a pirate vessel and he and his comrade were pressed into the service of the pirate vessel. This same pirate vessel was captured, but by making it appear to the satisfaction of the public and those in authority that they were not pirates but had to serve as pirates their lives were granted them. They came to America and joined in the service of the country in the struggle with England to gain our liberty. He was faithful to his post until he and his comrade were taken prisoners by the Indians; they were a long time with the Indians suffering all the hardships and privations of a captive life. They finally made their escape and wandered in the wilderness and mountains of Kentucky without food or shelter, on the continual watch of a merciless foe. They at last got to the Kentucky River where they were discovered by those at the fort crawling on their hands and knees through weakness. Those at the fort took them to be Indians. The cry was to shoot them - but they made signs of distress and they took them in - but it took great care to save them - they had suffered so much and so long, - but when they got able to do service again they went to their post and served during the struggle with England until the war was ended.
He then married. I dont remember his wifes name. I have knowledge of four children born to them, three girls and a boy named James Trimble (your [great] grandfather) who married Sarah Hinton. The girls names I dont remember - but one married a man named John Cowden [John Cowden md Mary Trimble, 17 Dec 1802, Fayette Co, KY] [John Cowden md Rebecca Ritchey, 15 Nov 1815, Knox Co, IN [Mary evidently died.]], one a man named Bird [Ann Trimble md Edward Bird, 12 Aug 1798, Fleming Co, KY], the other I am not sure but I think his name was Matney.
I was well acquainted with the Cowden family and who they married. They had five girls - Ellen, Elizabeth, Henrietta, Martha Ann and Nancy. Ellen married a Simpson; Elizabeth married a Neel (Neal); Henrietta married a Booker; Martha Ann married a Posey; I cant think who Nancy married at present. The one that married Bird had three children - James, Sally and I think Nancy. Sally Married a man named Rice - had no children. Nancys husbands name was Essex and they had a son. James Bird married and had a daughter by first wife; he married again Sarah Soloman of Indiana, but as to their ages and deaths I know nothing.
As to the religion of the Trimbles they were Catholics; as to their politics, as far as I know they were true to the cause for which they fought - the liberty of our country. If there were any more Trimbles that came to America besides the one I have spoken about I dont know anything about them. They came to Indiana before my parents came. I was four yrs old when my father came to Indiana and I am ninety years old since April 6th. I was born April 6, 1816.
Well I have given you all the information that I have any knowledge of at present concerning the early Trimbles. I will write a few lines concerning myself and husband on another page.
(Signed) Eliza Trimble
Please let me say that I do my own writing myself, and owing to my right hand being badly crippled, I thought I would write what knowledge I had on a separate paper and not try to fill the blanks as you requested me to do. You can arrange them to suit yourself. Owing to my hand being crippled my writing is at times very clumsy. I fell and broke my wrist and have nearly lost the use of my hand so that at times I cant guide my pen right.
Well, as I said, I will try and write a few lines concerning myself and family and grand-parents, as far as I have any information concerning them.
My grand-father, William Benefiel, parents were from Scotland and settled in the State of Maine where my grandfather was born in the year 1763, July 19. He emigrated to Kentucky in the time of the Indian trouble and was a spy with the Wetzel boys guarding the frontier from the attacks of the Indians that caused so much trouble in the early settling of Kentucky.
You have no doubt heard of Lewis Wetzel whose fathers family were all killed but Lewis, Jacob and Samuel who escaped. They swore vengeance against the Indian race. They acted as spies and my grandfather was often in danger of his life owing to the daring deeds they did in revenge for the murder of their father, mother and three sisters, and their house burned. Lewis name went down in history. I have read the history. Grandfather has often told me of many of their daring deeds.
My grandmother, Elizabeth (Norton) Benefiel, as the daughter of John Norton and was born May 1, 1769. Her father, John Norton, was born in England in the time of trouble with sea pirates. He went to sea at the age of twelve and was 40 years on the sea. There was one noted pirate that did such havoc to the merchant vessels that England fitted out a vessel expressly to capture him. My grandfather Norton was on the English vessel that followed the pirate five years and finally came on it in a heavy fog in speaking distance. When spoken to they hoisted a black flag. The pirates had two vessels - one very small and tams - the idea was with the English that they would cripple the small vessel first. They shot into it and it sank like a lump of lead. They then attacked the other vessel and had a hard fight with them - finally overpowered them and took them to England. But most all the treasure was on the little vessel. Grandfather said that the money that was on the big vessel was divided among the men and there was a hatful to each man. All treasure was on the little vessel. I did know the names of the two captives and of both the English and pirate vessels which I have often heard my grandfather relate. I dont doubt it is in the libraries as England fitted out the vessel expressly for the capture of the noted pirate, the event would no doubt be on record.
Grandfather Norton lived to be old and died in Virginia. I think Grandmother Norton died in Kentucky at the age of 104 years. My mothers parents were all from Germany. They came in a colony of Germans - the date I dont exactly know. My mother was born there in the year 1797, March 29. They settled the north branch of the Potomac River in Virginia. My father, John Benefiel, was born in Kentucky in the year 1789, Dec. 2, where he was married to my mother, May Spore (?) Her mothers maiden name was Haines. I was born in Kentucky, April 6, 1816. My father came to Indiana when I was four years old and settled in Sullivan County when that country was alive with birds of every hue, wild flowers and everything in its native beauty. I was always a lover of nature.
I will now speak of my own family on the Trimble side. We had eight children - four boys and four girls.
(Signed) Eliza Trimble