THE INSTITUTE OF TEXAN CULTURES
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
INTERVIEW WITH: Van Trimble (carpenter)
Home of Grace Wilhelm, Menard, Texas
DATE: Sunday, November 16, 1986
Neel: We are happy to have Van Trimble with us of Menard
County, and he has a lot of family history in his
grandfather , or his uncle, which one was it, Van.
Trimble: Both; great grandfather and qreat uncle.
N: I see. Dawson's men?
T: They were both.
N: Alright. So, he's going to give us the story. And I'm
going to let him tell it however he'd like to.
T: I've only got word from my father which came down
through the line to his father which was a very small child
at the time of the Dawson massacre and my grandfather went
to fight with the Dawson exposition for the reason one of
his neighbors was sick and he couldn't go so he took his
place. He went on with his brother and they joined the
Dawson expedition and was in the Dawson massacre. I don't
really know what all had taken place during the time but
after the Dawson massacre he was one of the fifteen men that
was captured and taken on to Perote, in Mexico, and he
stayed there for I don't really know, maybe several months
T: before he died of dysentery.
But I did remember some of the things that he said; how
it felt to be in a strange land in chains for reasons that
he couldn't explain. The thing that has struck most in my
mind was his good friend, Gonzo Woods, who made an escape
from the Perote prison and dodged the lance of a Mexican
renegade and pulled him off the horse and pinned him to the
ground and got on his horse and made his getaway. He came
back home but it wasn't long after this until whether they
had taken dysentery from something they ate or some food
poisoning or what, but he did die in prison. And as far as
I know, his bones was left in the moat that surrounded this
castle or the prison. I don't know anything else to say but
this is only words that came down to me through the family
N: Go ahead. Tell about how did you come to come to
T: Well, my family came to Menard from Field Creek and they
came here in 1884. But they went back and came back again I
believe it was 1898. And, of course, my father was here
practically all of his life. He lived here until he was 82
years old, and passed away in 1955 and his daddy was here
from 1884 off and on until 1923 when he passed away. He was
one of the old timers here at Menard.
N: What did they do? Farm?
T: Daddy, when they first came here, my granddaddy worked
for the old Noyes farm down here and on the river. But when
they came back, of course, they had bees and he
T: kept a big apiary of bees here and my daddy haD bees
and he was in the farming and ranching business for most all
of his life until he moved to Kimball County where he was in
1949 just before his death.
N: Don't you have some family history or something in here
you'd like ...
T: No. I've got all the rest of it in another deal on
family history. I didn't know we was to have all that.
N: Did you want to read some of these letters?
T: No. I don't know of any other that •.. I've been through
all of it. It seems to me like it was just letters from
friends and family back home where they mention our family
in the letters and what all was going on.
N: Well. Wouldn't you like to read one of those and kinda
tell what was going on? That sounds like it would be very
interesting. Now, they were from what county? What was it
called where they were?
T: They was from Fayette County, Texas, when they came t o
Menard the first time. Here's one that says:
"Dear wife: I am well at present. I hope when these come
to hand that they may find you all well. I am yet a
prisoner and in Perote but hope to be released before long
but it is uncertain. We can tell nothing but look forward
to a better time. Winter is coming and may you endure to
look out forward for your next year but I shall instruct no
more but advise you to do the best you can. I
T: have nothing more to write but remain your affectionate
husband. W. M. Trimble"
N: How many ch i ldren did he leave at home?
T: I just don't know.
2nd voice: William James. Now do you know anything about
T: Not only that he was a brother. And he was killed at
the Dawson massacre. William James was one of the fifteen
men that was captured and taken on to the Mexican prison in
N: I guess they were marched down there probably .
T: As far as I know they were. They were marched.
2nd voice: Now later they were supposed to have rescued the
bones of those that died there.
T: Did they bring them back to La Grange?
2nd voice: I suppose.
N: Did your grandmother die, then, in La Grange?
T: You know , I just don't know.
N: I just wondered how she got along after ...
T: I know they went back, my daddy did later on, and found
where his mother was buried at Littlefield or something down
at Field Creek, I believe it was, close to Littlefield or
something. But, this hasn't been too many years back, it's
been thirty years back, I guess, when
2nd voice: Well. Have you told all about your family?
T: Yeah. That's all I know.
N: How many came to Menard?
T: Well, there was my daddy and his daddy which was an old
Civil War veteran. And, he had three girls, I believe, and
three boys when he came. There was one passed away early
in, I believe might have been 189 , I don't know it's on
the tomb up there, and there was a Palm Trimble. Of course,
he married Fanny Ellis and then there was my dad and then
there was Aunt Josie which married Ace Bradford, and Maudie
who married Jim Glasscock. Joe and Zimmer was their
children. And then Aunt Minnie married a Griffin. He
passed away in Big Spring and Aunt Katie, the oldest one,
married Bob Glasscock. That's Ray's children's mother and
2nd voice: It's just like Melvin says. You can't say
anything in Menard - everybody's related to somebody else.
Well, if you are of a mind to, I think it would be very
interesting to tell you a story about the war, serving in
T: Well, I only served through one.
2nd voice: Well, you enlisted though again, didn't you?
T: No, I come out as a disabled vet, and I was in the
beginning with the anti-aircraft and then I went to England
and stayed 11 months before going on to France across the
English Canal or whatever -- English Channel -- and then I
stayed in combat for almost six months and my feet were
frozen in the Belgium Bulge and I was returned back and I
had several operations in England and returned back home.
T: The final operation was in California and I was
discharged from that point.
2nd voice: You never know about people you've known all
your life. A good part of it and then you find out things
that you didn't know.
T: I didn't know that you wanted all of this but I've got
it back from in the early days when my folks first came over
here. We've got our history all the way up.
N: When did they first come over to America? Way back?
T: It's way back. They've even got it where the name
started back in Scotland and Ireland. I have the whole
story. I didn't know. It would take hours to go through
that though. We are compiling books of it now. It's gonna
be pretty interesting when we get it all. I am making five
copies for And we are gonna
compile the whole thing up in book form. I think that is
the whole archives there. Everybody has that information as
far as I know. My brother was supposed to have been here.
voice: Are you any relation to Lee Trimble? The ranger?
T: No. No. There is no relation to him.
Voice: He died last year.
T: No. I was no relation to him. I know that the judge
at that time didn't take the, turned down the judge because
he thought it was Dad because he was a second cousin of my
mother's. So he turned down the trial because .,. had
T: some other judge take it because he thought it was
kinfolks. But come finding out, there was no relation.
N: What trial was that?
Voice: When Trimble killed Tomlinson.
Voice: He had been hired by Ott to help him move his camp
and all of his stock out and of course Tomlinson didn't want
it moved. It all happened before I came here. I've just
heard bits and pieces.
T: Yeah. This was back when I was fairly young. What
year was it? '27.
Voice: No, it was later than that. I was married.
T: Right after the depression, I know.
Voice: We knew Lee Trimble well.
T: Forty years ago. Of course, that sets us back quite a
bit doesn't it?
Voice: Everybody in Menard can date things by this what
happened and that what happened.
N: You don't have any other letters you wanted to read.
T: No. I believe that's everything that I had.
N: Well, we thank you.
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