Biography of John F. Trotter

John F. Trotter. In early days the superiority of soil and climate attracted to Champaign County as permanent settlers many eastern thoughtful and observing pioneer home-seekers, and one of the families firmly established here bore the name of Trotter, a name that has been an honored one in the county ever since. A worthy representative is found in John Franklin Trotter, one of Newcomb Township’s most respected citizens. He was born in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, April 7, 1852. His parents were Hiram and Lydia A. (Alamang) Trotter. To them were born ten children and five of these survive, John Franklin, the fifth in order of birth, being the only son living. His four sisters are: Elizabeth, who is the widow of J. B. Lester and resides at Fisher, Illinois; Jennie, who is the widow of David Inskeep, resides at Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Barbara, who is the wife of George Teats of White Heath, Illinois; and Jane, who is the widow of Oscar Mullvain, lives at Thomasboro, Illinois.

Hiram Trotter, father of the above family, was born near Wheeling, West Virginia, and there grew to manhood and engaged in farming. After the death of his first wife he married Lydia E. Alamang and she it was who accompanied him first to Indiana and later to Illinois and died here in 1880. After reaching Indiana Hiram Trotter rented eighty acres of land and operated it for six years. The rent was high and Mr. Trotter often remarked that the money spent in rent during that time would have purchased a good farm in another section. Finally he decided to move with his family into an adjacent State and locate in Champaign County, of which he had had many favorable reports. Once more the prairie schooner was brought into use and in 1856 the family was comfortably settled in a log cabin standing on a tract of eighty acres in Newcomb Township. He had borrowed the money to purchase this first land, but through his industry it was soon paid for and he continued to add to his holdings until he owned 240 acres, all in the same township. Pioneer conditions prevailed when the Trotters came first to Newcomb Township and John Franklin remembers when he could count as many as fifteen deer in a drove passing the little cabin. Hiram Trotter was a man far beyond the ordinary in many ways. He was much more progressive than many of his neighbors and many improvements both in farming methods and in public matters was brought about through his influence. He was a Jeffersonian Democrat and at one time served as road commissioner, that being before the founding of the present flourishing towns of Fisher, Dewey, Foosland and Mahomet. He was one of the original members of the first church built in this section, which was named the Shiloh Methodist Episcopal Church, and in his home and in the schoolhouse near by the first church meetings were held. He served in church offices during the rest of his life. The death of this fine old pioneer occurred in 1900 and a beautiful memorial stone in Shiloh Cemetery marks the last resting place of Mr. Trotter and wife.

John Franklin Trotter has been a resident of Newcomb Township almost his entire life. He attended the country schools and for a short time was a pupil in the Mahomet High School, and the public schools have always claimed his interest. He has always engaged in farming, renting land in Newcomb Township for the first two years after his marriage and then buying eighty acres. Later he purchased 160 acres near Rising City, Nebraska, but remained on that place but one year, returning then to Illinois because the western climate had a bad effect on his wife’s health. He now has seventy-one acres all in one tract, located at Shiloh Center, in the middle of the township. At one time the house he occupies was a post office.

Mr. Trotter married January 20, 1876, Miss Eliza Jane Funston, and they have had four children, as follows: Ira, who is a practical and successful farmer in Newcomb Township, married Emma Ricks and they have five children, Edna, Roy, Elsie, Wayne and Lyle; Maude is the wife of Hartley M. Suttle, who owns a fine farm of 160 acres in this township, and they have five children, Oliver, Archie, Nellie, Mary and Lola; Grace is the wife of Herbert L. Hinton, a railroad brakeman, and they live in Chicago; and Daisy, who resides with her parents. She is highly educated, having had advantages in the State Normal University and taught school for three years in Champaign County. She is a member of the Domestic Science Club at Mahomet, Illinois. She is one of the active and useful members of Shiloh Methodist Episcopal Church and under her management as Sunday school superintendent the school is in a highly prosperous condition, interest being stimulated and maintained and much practical good accomplished. Miss Trotter spent a part of the summer of 1905 at Denver, Colorado. She is a lady of engaging personality and is a welcome visitor everywhere.

Mrs. Trotter was born in Piatt County, Illinois, December 7, 1854. She completed her education in the Mahomet High School and taught school for three terms in Newcomb Township and now teaches a class in Sunday school. Extended mention of her family appears in this work in the sketch of her sister, Mrs. Nancy Downs, who is a highly esteemed resident of Newcomb Township. Both Mr. and Mrs. Trotter are willing workers in the Shiloh Methodist Episcopal Church, are liberal contributors to its various benevolent movements and by precept and example show the sincerity of their Christian belief.

Mr. Trotter has not bound himself to any political party, like many other intelligent men preferring to stand by the principles he believes to be right and give support to such candidates as best represent them, irrespective of party affiliation. He has been active and useful in township matters as a man of fine judgment and unblemished integrity and has served in responsible offices, having been tax collector, town clerk and for six years was a justice of the peace. Perhaps there is no more hospitable home in Newcomb Township than the Trotters, and their many friends are always sure of a hearty and sincere welcome.



Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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