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Pennsylvania State Officer Biographies

James Trimble

The First Deputy Secretary Of The Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania

We in Pennsylvania can boast too, of a public officer, that has faithfully served the state as long as any of those veterans, and perhaps longer. Mr. James Trimble, the present deputy secretary of the commonwealth, has been so long in that situation "that the memory of man runneth not to the contrary." And so true has he been to his trust, that his retaining the office has been considered so much a rule of common law, that during all the political storms which have raged about him, his removal was never but once contemplated, and it was then prevented by the fear of reversal by a higher tribunal, the people. The precise time of his entering the office, we know not; but we recollect having seen in the prothonotary's office of Northumberland county a commission which had been attested by him in 1785. He must have been there altogether, from what we can learn, at least sixty years, and is still one of the most efficient officers about the government. -- Pennsylvania Intelligencer. [Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania December 7, 1826- Transcribed by N. Piper]

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James Trimble was born in Philadelphia, July 19th, 1755; of his father, Alexander Trimble, we know but little; he was supposed to have come from the north of Ireland, was a Protestant, and a member of the Second Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, Pa., then under the care of the Rev. Gilbert Tennent, of whom it is said he was a relative.

Alexander Trimble was married to Eleanor Rogers, of Abington, June the 20th, 1754. Of the date of his death we have no knowledge, except that it was prior to the year 1769, as we find a record on the church books of his widow, Eleanor Trimble, ,being received by baptism and profession of faith into the church on the 5th of May, 1769.

James was the eldest of several children, and we find, though very young at the time of his father's death, be manifested all those qualities of mind and heart for which he was so justly noted throughout a long life devoted to the service of his country. " When but a mere boy he assisted his mother in the care of a store. One day a gentleman, probably Mr. Tilghman, Secretary of the Land Office under the Proprietors, called and made some purchases; when young Trimble made out his bill, the gentleman was so much pleased with his writing and business style that he at once took measures to secure his services in his department. Mr. Hamilton states that he was apprenticed as a clerk in the Land Office about 1770, when he was fifteen years old."

The endorsement upon the archives of the Board of War and Council of Safety recently recovered, indicates that he was subordinate clerk in the State Council as early as 1775, and when Col. Timothy Matlack became the first Secretary of the Commonwealth (Col. Records, vol. llth, page 174), March 6, 1777, James Trimble became Deputy Secretary, and so continued down to Thursday, Jan. 14,1837.

" Pending some difficulties with the Council in regard to his accounts of his money trust, Col. Matlack resigned his position as Secretary, and on the 25th of March, 1783, Gen. John Armstrong, Jr., was appointed in his stead. Gen. Armstrong was elected a member of Congress in 1787, and on the 7th of November Charles Biddle took his place. Mr. Biddle remained in office until Jan. 19, 1791, when Alexander James Dallas, Esq., was commissioned by Gov. Mifflin the first Secretary under the Constitution of 1790, and on the 12th of March, 1791, on the very day the Governor approved the Act providing for a Deputy Secretary, Mr. Dallas appointed James Trimble to be Deputy Secretary, and said appointment was approved by the Governor."

" Mr. Dallas remained in office until the 2d of December, 1801, when he resigned, and Thomas McKean Thompson succeeded him. N. B. Boileau became Secretary of the Commonwealth Dec. 20, 1808, and remained so during Governor Snyder's several terms, succeeded by Thomas Sergeant, 1817, Andrew Gregg, 1820, Molton C. Rogers, 1823, Isaac D. Barnard, 1826, Calvin Blythe, 1827, Samuel McKean, 1829, and James Findlay, 1833, and in all these years, and with all these changes, a commission and dedimus issues regularly every three years to James Trimble as Deputy Secretary."

" His records are models of neatness, his papers elaborately endorsed, and filed with great care, so that in the days of tallow candles, he was wont to enter his office at night, and without striking a light lay his hand on any paper he wished."

"His personal," says our friend A. B. H., "is fresh in my memory, nay it cannot fade from the recollection of any whose memory runs back for forty years, his slight stature, solemn suit of black short clothes, queue, long hose, buckle shoes, quick eye, brisk movements, and dignified address.

When he died, Harrisburg lost its last gentleman of the old school, for Alexander Graydon, his peer in dress and address, had gone before." "In the judgment of his contemporaries he was a faithful public servant; a man of unimpeachable integrity, of obliging manners, respected by the community at large, and beloved by his family, to whom he greatly endeared himself by his kindness, and affection."

On the 22d of April, 1782, he married Clarissa, widow of John Hastings ; her maiden name was Claypoole. She was a descendant of James Claypoole, an intimate friend of Wm. Penn, and brother to John Claypoole that married Elizabeth, daughter of Oliver Cromwell. She died in Lancaster, Feb. 6,1810. Of their eleven children two only survived them- Dr. James Trimble, who died in Huntingdon County, in 1838, and Thomas R., who died in Chester County, in 1868.

James Trimble helped pack and remove the State papers at the time the British occupied Philadelphia, and again when the seat of Government was removed to Lancaster in 1799, and from Lancaster to Harrisburg in 1812. He was a member of the Second Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, holding a pew and attending the religious services of that church until his removal to Lancaster in 1799. After he removed to Harrisburg he was chosen Trustee and Treasurer of the Presbyterian congregation there, in which capacity he served until his death on the 20th of January, 1837, at the age of eighty-two years, having served his country faithfully for sixty-seven years; and whose only fault was that he was on the opposite side of politics from the party then coming into office. " Surely party spirit must have been at fever heat to remove such a public servant, without some sort of retired-list position for him." The mortification was too great for him to bear, for he died in just eleven days after his removal, of a broken heart. I remember hearing my father, the late Dr. James Trimble, say he would rather pay his salary than that he should be removed from the office, for he would not live a week afterwards; the sequel proved him to be correct in his opinion.

The above is in part copied from an article published in a Harrisburg paper on the presentation by the Hon. M. S. Quay of a portrait of Mr. Trimble to the Secretary's chamber; the painting was by Waugh, from an original by Eicholtz, now owned by Mrs. Catherine Trimble, Qlenlock, Pa.

[Source: The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography Vol. V, 1881, CONTRIBUTED RY MRS PAUL GRAFF - Transcribed by Nancy Piper]


George Taylor

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania May 23, 1827

The last volume of the Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence contains notices of nine of the American patriots who rendered their names immortal by affixing them to the chart of American Liberty. Of these, the early life of George Taylor is the most remarkable. With but an indifferent education, he emigrated from Ireland, arrived in this country without a sixpence in his pocket and bound himself to an owner of ironworks who advanced his passage fees. Taylor was immediately set to work as a filler. From the blisters on his hands, it was soon discovered that he was unused to such labor, when his employer kindly transferred him from the shovel to the pan; and in capacity of clerk, Taylor soon made himself an important member of the establishment. His employer dying, he married the widow and became the proprietor of the whole concern. Having amassed a fortune by prudent management and great industry, he was called into public life, and from the provincial assembly of Pennsylvania, he was advanced to a seat in Congress of '76.


John Trunkey

The Hon. John Trunkey, elected Judge of the Supreme Court, to succeed Judge Sterrett, is a native of Mercer county, Pa., having been born there 1828. He studied law with Samuel Griffith, in the town of Mercer, was admitted to the bar and speedily became one of the foremost lawyers in that section of the State. He was elected Judge of the judicial district composed of Venango and Mercer counties in 1866 by a heavy majority, although it is usually Republican by about two-thousand votes. Judge Trunkey has displayed great ability on the bench, having the reputation of being one of the very best Common Pleas Judges in the State.

The Indiana Democrat (Indiana, Pennsylvania) November 15 1877, Transcribed by Nancy Piper


Amos C. Noyes

Colonel Amos C. Noyes, just elected state Treasurer, to succeed Henry Rawle, was born in New Hampshire in 1818. He removed to Emporium, Cameron county where he still resides. He was chosen to the Legislature on the Democratic ticket in 1869 and re-elected in the following year. His course in the body was marked by the plain honest principles upon which he conducts his private business and was acceptable in the highest degree to his constituents. At the Democratic Convention at Erie, in September 1875, he was a leading candidate for the gubernatorial nomination, and the large vote which he then obtained unmistakably indicated his popularity with the Democrats of the State. Colonel Noyes is at present a member of the Board of Public Charities.

The Indiana Democrat (Indiana, Pennsylvania) November 15 1877, Transcribed by Nancy Piper


William P. Schell

Hon. William P. Schell, elected Auditor General to succeed Justus F. Temple, was born at Schellsburg, Bedford county, in 1832, and engaged in the practice of the law. He served in the lower house of the Legislature in 1852-3, having been chosen Speaker in the second year of his service, at the age of 31. He was elected to the Senate in 1857 from the strong Republican district of Somerset, Bedford and Fulton counties and came within one vote of being nominated for Auditor General in 1862, when Slenker was nominate and elected. Mr. Schell was in 1872 nominated for Governor by the Labor party, but declined in favor of Mr. Buckalew, the regular Democratic candidate. The Auditor General elect is at present a member of the Pennsylvania House, having been elected in 1876.

The Indiana Democrat (Indiana, Pennsylvania) November 15 1877, Transcribed by Nancy Piper


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