Trent, Alexander

Born: 1798 Virginia

As a young man, Trent moved from his native state to Kentucky. In 1817, he married Helen Ferguson in Barren County, Kentucky. Trent and his family migrated to Illinois, settling in an area of Sangamon County that would eventually become Menard County. He purchased land in the area east of what would become Petersburg, Illinois. In 1832, he bought the New Salem Ferry. Later that same year, he also became the owner of a tavern. A year later, he and his brother purchased the mercantile business owned by Abraham Lincoln and William F. Berry. During the Black Hawk War, Trent served as a corporal in Abraham Lincoln's company of the 4th Regiment of Mounted Volunteers. Trent received for his military service forty acres of bounty land in Clay County, Illinois, in 1853, and an additional 120 acres of bounty land in Tazewell County, Illinois, in 1858, which he assigned to John Moore. After discharge, Trent returned to Menard County. In 1840, he was living in Menard County, with eight other persons in his household, of whom three were engaged in manufacture and trade. In 1847, Lincoln represented plaintiffs who sued Trent for selling land to his son to avoid creditors. The case continued until 1853, when the court ordered the land sold to pay the debt. By 1850, Trent worked as a carpenter in Petersburg, Illinois, and owned $1,000 in real property. Helen Trent died sometime in the 1850s, and in 1857, Trent married Susan McEntire. He moved to the Manito area around 1858. In 1860, he lived in western Tazewell County, was a tavern keeper, and owned $4,000 in real estate and $500 in personal property.

Kentucky, U.S., Compiled Marriages, 1802-1850, 19 March 1817, Barren County (Provo, UT: Operations, 1997); Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales, Menard County, 68:17, 73; 69:152, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; U.S. Census Office, Sixth Census of the United States (1840), Menard County, IL, 297; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Menard County, IL, 268; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Spring Lake, Tazewell County, IL, 292; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Mason County, 22 November 1857, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; Land Patent of the United States to Alexander Trent, 20 July 1853, Warrant No. 13283, Clay County, IL, Land Patent of the United States to John Moore, 15 February 1858, Warrant No. 43786, Tazewell County, IL, RG 49: Records of the Bureau of Land Management, Records of the General Land Office, Land Patents, 1789-2012, National Archives at Kansas City, Kansas City, MO; Benjamin P. Thomas, Lincoln's New Salem (Springfield, IL: Abraham Lincoln Association, 1934), 6, 12-13; The History of Menard and Mason Counties, Illinois (Chicago: O. L. Baskin, 1879), 598; Susan Krause, "Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed, Attorney and Client," Illinois Historical Journal 89 (Spring 1996): 47-49; Molly McKenzie, "A Demographic Study of Select New Salem Precinct Residents" (Typescript, 1979), 106-9; Ellis et al. v. Trent et al., Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009),; Muster Roll of Abraham Lincoln’s Company of Mounted Volunteers.