portrait unveiled at county historical museum
Descendants of Judge James F. Trotter (1802-1866) donated an oil painting of the famed Mississippi Supreme Court justice and U.S. senator to the Marshall County Historical Museum.
Trotter was a lawyer, state legislator, U.S. senator, judge and finally Ole Miss law professor.
Trotter was born in Virginia. He served in the Mississippi House from 1827-1829, was a state senator from 1829-1833 and was a Mississippi Circuit Court judge from 1833-1866. He was a Supreme Court justice from 1839-1842, a U.S. Senator in 1838, appointed to fill the term of John Black who resigned his post, and taught law from 1960-1962.
He was born in Brunswick County, Virginia, moved to eastern Tennessee, attended private schools and studied law under a licensed attorney in Tennessee. He was admitted to the bar in 1820 at age 18 and began practicing law in Hamilton, near Aberdeen, in 1823.
Trotter resigned his Supreme Court post and moved to Holly Springs, where he resumed law practice in 1840. He died at age 63 and is buried at Hill Crest Cemetery. His wife’s name was Susan Trotter.
Several descendants of Judge Trotter are members of the Hopkins, Jones, Walker and Collins families of Holly Springs, according to David Person, one of the descendants of the late justice. Person said his mother was a Walker and the justice was his great-great-grandfather.
“The museum had requested a picture of Judge Trotter for their collection many years ago,” said Person. “We had it commissioned. This portrait was given in memory of Frank Hopkins Jr., who recently passed away.”
Hopkins is responsible for putting an earlier picture of Justice Trotter in the Mississippi Hall of Fame at the Old Capitol Building in Jackson.
Hopkins has two sons, Frank Hopkins III and Elliot Hopkins, who were present at the unveiling with Helen Bell Hopkins, widow of Frank Hopkins Jr.
“People came from all over the place,” Person said. “It was like a family reunion at the unveiling with about 45 descendants present.
“I think the purpose of all of this is to solidify all these families with Holly Springs and to appreciate the community and these people who helped build it.”
A graveside service for Frank Hopkins Jr. was held at Hill Crest the day after the unveiling. And family gatherings and renewal of old friendships took place throughout the town. Visitors who partook in the gathering were from Alabama, Georgia, South Mississippi, Arizona and New York City.
Frank Hopkins Jr. was a graduate of Vanderbilt and Yale and a very talented engineer, Person said.
He added that these families were very well educated individuals for their time and contributed to the community in Holly Springs, while their descendants moved on out in a kind of diaspora but come back to remember their roots in Holly Springs as often as possible.
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