Trotter, James Ira, Sr.

Serial # 1-326-535

Ira was born September 5, 1897 in Nashville, Tennessee. He was the son of John Kirkwood Trotter, born in Montgomery County, Tennessee and Ida Katherine Richardson, born in Kansas. Ira was the 9th of 12 children, 6 boys and 6 girls. Before he was born his father was a farmer in Erin, Houston County, Tennessee. In the early 1890s his father moved to Nashville, and worked as a roofer. When Ira was about 10 years old, the family moved back to Erin and farmed. By then Ira’s father was almost 70 years old. Ira had to help with the farming as he was the oldest boy at home. Because of his responsibilities at home he only had 6 years of schooling. His father died in 1914 when he was 16 years old.

After Ira’s father died, his mother moved to Memphis, Tennessee. In 1915 and 1916 Ira worked as a printer for his brother. In 1916 Ira enlisted at Memphis in the First Tennessee Infantry, Company E, Separate Battalion of the Tennessee National Guard. After serving one year he was mustered out on March 24, 1917.

The United States declared war on Germany on April 12, 1917. Two days later on April 14, in Memphis, Ira re-enlisted in the Tennessee National Guard and was assigned to the First Tennessee Infantry, Company A. After four months of hard training in Tennessee, Company A was sent to the training camp of the 30th Division in Camp Sevier, Greenville, South Carolina, on September 9, 1917. Four days later, the First Tennessee Infantry ceased to exist and they became part of the 30th Division, Battery A, 115th Field Artillery.

Ira later served in the 30th Division, 105th Signal Battalion at Camp Sevier. On May 20, 1918 his unit left Camp Sevier for Camp Mills, Long Island, New York. He was transported overseas on the Armagh and arrived June 9th in Calais.

Ira was transferred to the 7th Division, 10th Field Battalion Signal Corp. From October 9 to November 11, 1918, the 7th Division had numerous attacks on them from the enemy. The Germans were using phosgene and sneezing gas against them. On November 1, 1918 Ira was mustard gassed and shot in the leg in Bois De Bonvaux near Jauley, France. He was in the hospital at Field 35 near Gondecourt, Base 51 Toul and Base 27 Angus, France. After his recovery he was a motorcycle M.P. with the 7th Division in France.

In June 1919 Ira boarded transports at Brest, France for America. He arrived June 22 at Bush Terminal, Brooklyn, New York. He received a honorable discharge on June 30 at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.

On August 12, 1919, Ira was hired as a Locomotive Fireman on the L & N Railroad in Nashville, Tennessee. He met Anna Belle Drake (born March 7, 1900 I Goodlettsville, Davidson Co., TN), daughter of John Tinsley Drake and Emma Evelyn Bowers, at a New Years party in 1919. Ira and Anna Belle were married May 9, 1920 at Elex Erwise Methodist Church, Nashville, TN. They had four children: James Ira Trotter, Jr., born 1921, died 1991; Evelyn Trotter Wilson, born 1924; Tinsley Drake Trotter born 1927; and Carolyn Trotter Bouskill, born 1929; all of Nashville, Tennessee. Ira’s sons served in the armed services in WWII, James Ira Trotter, Jr. served in the Air Force and Tinsley Drake Trotter served in the Navy, and Ira’s son-in-laws served in the Air Force and Paratroopers.

In August of 1923, Ira applied for Veteran’s Disability Compensation and Vocational Training but did not receive anything. He was laid off from the railroad for over 10 years and did odd jobs. While Ira was working in a shoe factory in January of 1932, he applied for disability allowance under Section 200 World War Veteran’s Act 1924, amended 1930. On July 1, 1933, he started a pension for $12.38 a month, and on May 28, 1934 they added $0.75 for each of his four children until they became 18 years old. The pension was raised some in the later years which he received until his death and his wife received his pension until her death.

In 1925 Ira bought a four room house in East Nashville for $2,500. The house payments were $15.50 a month. With Ira working part time jobs and having four children, it was almost impossible to maintain the home during the depression. When his pension started in 1933, it was a great help on the house payment. Ira received an army bonus in 1934, which also helped greatly. He bought a cook stove, a wringer washer and replaced the ice box with a refrigerator. He bought a Crosby floor model radio which was a big thrill for us children. Each night we would take our pillows and lay quietly on the floor in front of the fire to listen. This was a treat for us before going to bed. In the early 1940s Ira remodeled the house to a four bedroom home. After his wife's death in 1982 his grandson bought the family home and still [1999] lives there. The house is located in the historic Lockland Estates of East Nashville.

In the late 1930s Ira returned to the L & N Railroad permanently. In 1945 he was promoted from fireman to engineer and retired in 1965.

Even though Ira was 5 foot 10 inches tall, he never weighed over 135 pounds. He got out of bed once or twice a night coughing hard. He always had to stay busy at all times, so he had many hobbies. His first love was flowers and he had a green house for 15 years, which was a profitable hobby. Other hobbies were woodworking, quilting, crocheting, and coin collecting.

James Ira Trotter, Sr. died May 20, 1972 in Nashville, Tennessee. His wife, Anna Belle Trotter died November 4, 1982. Both are buried at the Springhill Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee.

Prepared by Carolyn Trotter Bouskill, 2/2/99