Trotter family ancestors immigrated from England

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 11, 2017

Trotter family ancestors immigrated from England

The Trotter name has held significance to this writer since 1962 when he began his teaching career at Eastwood Junior High School in the Tuscaloosa City School System. From the beginning, which was in a new school building, the school secretary, Mrs. Trotter, became a valuable friend. She was very attractive and personally attentive to all the staff. Her ready smile and very cheerful nature was valuable to the school’s well-being and smooth operations.

The Trotter name also became prominent in Covington County beginning circa 1940 when George Washington Trotter and his wife, Alberta (Peters), moved from Dale County to the Town of Opp. George became well-known during his serving as minister for several Baptist churches.

Considering George’s Trotter ancestry, presents several family trees outlining the lineage from England. The earliest ancestor found by this writer was Ralph Trotter who was born in Durham, England. He died in 1769 probably in England as well. He was married to Dorothy Thompson who also was born and died in England. Their son, Nathaniel Trotter, appears to be the immigrant ancestor. 

Nathaniel was born in England, and he died in 1822 in Edgefield District, S.C. He was married three times in England to women who were also natives of that country. He was married first to Catherine McDougal who also moved to America. Although the record is unclear, it appears Nathaniel was married a second time to an unknown wife and had a son born in 1750 named Jeremiah Trotter. He was also married to Marie Renie Duboro. They were the parents of the Joseph L. rotter who was born in 1755 in Johnston, Granville County, N.C. Joseph is the next generation in today’s Trotter lineage.

Joseph L. Trotter was married in 1784 in Edgefield, S.C., to Elizabeth Gilley Gentry (1769-1848). They had a son whom they named Joseph L. Trotter Jr. Joseph Jr. was born in 1788 in Edgefield, S.C. and lived until 1875 at which time he died in 1875 Houston County, Ala. He was married to Ellen whose surname is not known. They had a son named Tilman/Tillman H. Trotter who was born in 1832 in Georgia. At some point, Tillman moved to Alabama where he enlisted for service in Confederate Company D, 1st. Regiment Alabama Conscripts. A record in the Alabama Heritage and History Collection reports that he became a private in Company A, 61st. Alabama Infantry Regiment.

Tillman Trotter was first married to Permelia Jane House who was born in 1841-1845 in Georgia. They reared the following children: Catharine N., b. 1861; Sarah A.S., b. 1863; Joseph H., b. 1866; Leway E., b. 1867; James Wyatt Sr., b. 1868, d. 1910; Mary E., b. 1871; William A., b. 1875; and George W., b. 1879.

Tillman was married second to Serena Phillips (1852-1925). Some years after Tillman’s death in 1909 in Dothan, Ala., his widow, Serena, was awarded a widow’s pension from his military service. They were buried in the Grace Point Baptist Church Cemetery. Their son, James Wyatt Trotter was born in 1868 in Abbeville, Henry County, Ala. and died in 1910 in Dothan, Houston County, Ala.

Tillman’s son, James Wyatt Trotter Sr., was first married in 1896 to Minnie Lee Davis, daughter of John Henry Davis and Annie Wilcox. James and Minnie had at least the following children: George Washington, b. 1902, m. Elberta D. Peters (1905-1992); John Henry, b. 1805, d. 1948; and Eunice Earl, b. 1908, d. 1933, m. Shelley Paramore (1841-1928). James was married second to Sarah Jane Bowman with whom he had a son named James Wyatt Trotter Jr. James Jr. was born in 1909 and died in 1992.

The son, George Washington Trotter, is the main subject of today’s writing. He is the one who migrated to Covington County and became a well-known minister. He was orphaned at an early age and then shifted from relative to relative. When his sister, Eunice, was married, he and his younger brother, Henry, moved with her to Dale County.  After an unpleasant relationship with his brother-in-law, George hired out to local farmers and lived in their homes. He earned an eighth-grade education in Houston and Dale Counties.

In 1919, George went to work for Curtis Nathaniel Peters on a farm located on Route 2, Ozark, Ala. He met and fell in love with Peters’ oldest daughter, Elberta Peters, who was 14 years old at the time. When she turned 16 and him being 19, they were married in 1921 by Minister Bob Bush at the Peters home. The next 20 years were spent with George share-cropping with his father-in-law. In 1930, they were residing in the Rocky Head community of Dale County. When Curtis N. Peters lost his farm during the Depression, the Trotter family moved to Opp in Covington County in January 1940. George sought employment with the Opp Micolas Mills industry.

On September 30, 1951, George Trotter was ordained as a Baptist minister by the Westview Baptist Church in Opp. Through his remaining years, he served as a minister or “pastor” to the following Baptist Churches: Weed, Center Ridge, Camp Ground, Brooklyn, Ino, Friendship, Babbie, and Sweetwater. At his death on May 8, 1981, he was at the time serving as pastor to Bethany Baptist Church. His family has noted that during his 20 years of preaching, George never used notes. He has been described as a “self-taught” preacher who was a conscientious church worker. His family wrote, “He was a good father, fair and honest, but also hard and demanding—a perfectionist in his way.”

George Trotter’s wife, Elberta, was described by her family as being “a gentle, loving mother who adored her husband and provided him with the stable home he was denied as a child.” She is remembered as having a passion for attending church with her husband and quilt-making. Her children and grandchildren are the proud owners of the large collection of quilts she made.

George and Elberta Trotter had seven children, but the names of two infants were not found. Those who lived included the following: Carolyn Matilda, b. 1923, d. 1928; Minnie Lee, b. 1925, m. George Girvan Campbell; Charles Lawrence, b. 1928, d. 2014, m. Ivan Ruth Cohron; Mary Jo, b. 1929, m. Robert Thomas Griffin; and Billy John, b. 1931, m. (1) Betty Clark (2) Shirley Paulke.

The daughter, Mary Jo Trotter, was married in 1948 in Opp, Ala., to Robert Thomas Griffin (1929-2008). They moved from Opp to Andalusia in 1957 with four young children. They had another child to be born in Andalusia. In 1970 they opened Griffin’s Frame and Accessories Shop at 1507 East Three-Notch Street. Mary Jo especially enjoyed this work and service until 1988 when the business was closed. They made their home in Andalusia until Robert’s health began to fail in the early 2000s. At that time, they moved to Clanton, Ala., to live near their children who had settled there. Mary Jo and Robert reared the following five children: Carolyn, b. 1949, m. Robert Ellis Hickman; Robert Thomas Jr. “T.,” b. 1952, m. Carla Nelson; George Gary “Bear,” b. 1954, m. Susan Faust; David Joel, b. 1955, m. Carole Frew; and Willard Alan, b. 1958, m. Patti Paramore. The son, Robert Thomas Trotter, became a Baptist minister like his grandfather, George Trotter, and he has been serving for a number of years in Clanton. Mary Jo continues to make her home near her children in Clanton, but she readily shares how much she misses her friends and hometown of Andalusia.

The sources for today’s writing include and a family story written by Mary Jo (Trotter) Griffin for The Heritage of Covington County, Alabama, which was published in 2003.

Anyone who might discover an error in the above is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: