Monday, October 11, 2010

The Trimble Monument in Forest Hill Cemetery

Posted By on Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 4:15 PM

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Forest Hill Cemetery has many fine monuments, but one of the best is the Trimble Monument, showing a beautiful young lady weeping by the side of a tomb, beneath a stone canopy supported by massive columns.

The inscription reveals this is the last resting place of Frank Trimble (1840-1915) and Lilly Shelton, identified as "his wife" (1852-1899).

Who were these Trimbles, and why did they build such an impressive tomb, you ask? Just sit back and I'll tell you. Wait, you're leaning back too far! Can you still see the computer screen? Okay, then.

After weeks of research (well, I mainly just walked across the room), I turned up a 1911 edition of Who's Who in Tennessee. Frank Trimble rated a mention, which told me that he was born in Hazel Green, Kentucky (don't you love the names of some of these small towns?). He moved to Illinois at the age of 22, then ventured to Memphis during the Civil War, where he became a merchant. That didn't last long, what with the war and all, so in the late 1860s, he started a real estate firm, called simply Frank Trimble and Company, dealing in "farm lands, etc."

The Who's Who also told me he was a Royal Arch Mason (the best kind), a member of the Knights of Pythias, and a member of the Episcopal Church, though which one it didn't say. It gave all that, and yet not a single mention of "Lilly Shelton, his wife."

Old city directories in the Lauderdale Library reveal that Trimble and Company was located downtown on Madison, while the Trimbles themselves resided at 23 South Diana, just south of Madison. The house was torn down years ago, but Trimble Place — which runs for two blocks behind Overton Square and stops at Diana, close to where the house was — remains today, as yet another (more humble) monument to the Trimbles.

Some of their descendants, including Dr. Peter Trimble, DDS, still live in Memphis.

The years have not been especially kind to the monument in Forest Hill. From a distance, it still looks magnificent, but venture closer and you can see that the wind and rain have etched away the details on the statue's face (see below). It's still quite beautiful though, and considering that drivers have a good view of the monument from the nearby expressway, one of the most admired tombs in the cemetery.

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