This is James Monroe Trotter, a Civil War hero who lived in Chillicothe, Ohio. He was also a writer, educator, activist, and scholar.
Born in Missisippi in 1842, James was the son of a slave. His father was her owner, who freed James’s mother when he married in the 1850s. James and his mother then moved to Ohio, where he attended a school for freed slaves. He became a teacher himself, moving to Chillicothe to teach in schools for students of color.
While living in Chillicothe, he met Viginia Isaacs. Her mother had been born into slavery on Monticello, the plantation belonging to Thomas Jefferson. Her father was a grandson of Elizabeth Hemmings. Her father was one of the slaves freed by Jefferson’s will, but her mother was not. She was sold on the auction block in 1827. Her father saved money to buy the freedom of his wife and children. When the whole family was freed, they traveled to Chillicothe.
During the Civil War, James Trotter traveled to Boston so he could enlist in the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (United States Colored Troops), Company K. He was the second man of color to reach the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He was wounded in battle at Honey Hill, but recovered.
In camp, he continued his teaching, tutoring soldiers in reading and writing. He fought for the black troops to receive the same pay as their white counterparts.
After the war, James Trotter married Virginia Isaacs. The couple moved to Boston, where he became the first African-American to be employed by the Post Office. However, he eventually resigned the position in protest when his race kept him from being promoted like other employees.
He had an interest in music and wrote a comprehensive study of it in a book entitled Music and Some Highly Musical People, still used by music students today.
James Trotter was appointed Recorder of Deeds in Washington DC by Grover Cleveland, the second African-American man to hold that post. (The first being Fredrick Douglass.)
He died in 1892 of tuberculosis.