Lucas William Trafton

by Edmund Starling, 1886


LUCAS WILLIAM TRAFTON was born in Evansville, April 9th, 1837, and here his childhood was spent. He was the only son of Dr. William Trafton, a noted physician of that early time. Dr. Trafton was born near the village of Lewiston, Maine, in the year 1792, and received the title of M. D. from the Dartmouth Medical College, New Hampshire, in 1819. The same year he immigrated to Evansville, Indiana, and commenced the practic of medicine. Here he continued to practice until his death, in 1847. Dr. Trafton was twice married. His last wife was Miss America Butler, of Henderson County, and neighbor. By this marriage there was but one child, Lucas William, the subject of this sketch. Dr. Trafton died when hi son was only ten years of age, leaving him and his mother with limited means.

As a child, young Trafton was impressed with the necessity of fitting himself for the business of life and, in boyhood, chose law as a profession. At the age of fourteen he was sent to Wabash College, Indiana, where he remained two years. His father, prior to his death, having determined to have his son learn the German language, sent him, when quite young, to a German school, and thus began his knowledge of that language and his friendship for that race. At the age of sixteen, being at home from college and on a visit to relatives in Kentucky, he met with an accident that caused the loss of his left arm. He was hunting, and, in raising his gun from the ground to his horse, it was accidentally exploded, shattering his left arm near the shoulder. The courageous young man seized the bridle reins in his teeth, and, holding his wounded arm with his right hand, galloped for several miles to his aunt's, Mrs. Annie McClain, where his mother was visiting. He was taken from his horse in a fainting condition, and Dr. P. Thompson, then a young physician in Henderson, speedily summoned. Dr. Thompson amputated the arm. At one time his life was despaired of, but he recovered in due course of time. He then left school and came to Henderson, where he entered the Clerk's office, under William D. Allison, with whom he remained for nearly ten years, at the same time applying himself diligently to the study of law. He was one of the very best of clerks, and, as a draughtsman, knew no superior. Although deprived of the use of one arm, he was nevertheless as expert in handling books and papers as most men possessed of both limbs. At the age of twenty-one he commenced the practice of law, and, at the age of twenty-two, was elected County Judge.

During the summer of 1862, he joined the Confederate Army, and was with General Morgan at his capture, near Buffington Island, Ohio, in 1863. He was sent on a prisoner, and, after fourteen months' prison life, was exchanged from Fort Delaware. After his exchange he received a shot which confined him to his bed for several weeks, but such kindly nursing as he received from Mrs. Mary Spalding, one of the kindest hearted and most cultured ladies of Georgia, he recovered and again entered the army and remained to the surrender. Returning home, he again commenced the practice of law.

On the twenty-third day of November, 1865, he married Miss Helen Gibbs, a cultured little lady, who proved her love by her devotion to him during his life. Unto them was born one son, whom he named for his friend, Mrs. Spalding, of Georgia. Spalding is now a clerk in the Farmers' Bank.

In 1869 Mr. Trafton made the race for the Legislature, opposed by Hon. R. T. Glass. The canvass was a terribly heated one, owing to the action of both gentlemen in the matter of a public school charter before the Kentucky Legislature. Mr. Glass was elected by a small majority. In 1871 Mr. Trafton was again a candidate and was elected without opposition. While a member of that body, he was appointed Chairman of the Committee on County Courts, and also one of seventeen to revise the Statutes. He died August 6th, 1877, leaving a widow and one son.

Judge Trafton, for a number of years, was associated as partner with Hon. H. F. Turner, and it is not flattery to say it was one of the strongest and largest patronized firms at the bar. Judge Trafton himself was an exceptionable find lawyer, and man of sound judgment. Ever from his boyhood days he was an impressive speaker, commanding attention, not so much on account of his oratory as for his sound logic. In social life, he was a favorite, a fine talker and full of humor.

The History of Henderson County, Kentucky by Starling 1887 page 751-53;

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