James E. Trimble’s Early Life

Judge James E. Trimble of Farmerville, Union Parish, Louisiana
Photograph of James E. Trimble in Farmerville, Louisiana

James Etherington Trimble was the son of of Samuel Talmadge Trimble and Matilda E. Appleton. He was born in Bridgewater, Pennsylvania, on February 22, 1834.

Trimble began his freshman year at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in September, 1853, and he graduated in 1857. He then studied law in Iowa, and in late 1857 or early 1858, Trimble moved to Farmerville, a small town in Union Parish, Louisiana.

In February, 1859, Trimble became president of the Farmerville Female College. That same year he also earned his LL.D. degree from Mount Lebanon University in Bienville, Louisiana.

In June or July of 1858, James E. Trimble married Laura C. Bartlett in Hempstead County, Arkansas. After her death in 1860, James E. Trimble married Isabella Munger of Rutland, Vermont, on November 15, 1861.

James E. Trimble During the Civil War

In 1862, James E. Trimble enlisted in the Confederate States Army (CSA). He was assigned duty as military engineer with rank of 1st Lieutenant. He was then transferred to the Asst. Adjutant General’s department as Chief of Staff with acknowledged rank of Major, to General D. Provence.

Throughout the war Trimble remained a Unionist, and he cast the only Republican vote in Union Parish for General Ulysses S. Grant in the 1868 presidential election.

James E. Trimble After the Civil War

After the war, Trimble resumed his legal studies and in 1866 was admitted to the bar of Louisiana. In October 1867, he was appointed postmaster of the Farmerville Post Office.

In 1872, Trimble was elected Judge of the 11th District of the State of Louisiana and held that position for four years. During this period “he performed the most conspicuous act of his life by imprisoning a US officer for refusing to recognize a writ of habeas corpus,” thus recognizing the supremacy of civil law over military authority.

In 1878, Judge Trimble founded and became editor of the Farmerville Gazette.

Death of Judge James E. Trimble

Regarding the death of James E. Trimble, Williamson & Goodman wrote the following:

The death of Judge Trimble marked one of the great tragedies in the history of the parish in the latter part of the nineteenth century. A political feud had developed between the editor and James A. Ramsey, another prominent citizen. Ill feeling between the two men grew, and on December 20, 1887, they met on the main street in Farmerville, hot words were spoken and both drew revolvers. Five or six shots were fired, and the two men fell dead.Frederick William Williamson & George T. Goodman, Eastern Louisiana: A History, Vol. 1 (1939), 112-120

Judge James E. Trimble died on December 19, 1887 and was buried in Farmerville, Union Parish, Louisiana.