These days, we think of the new year as a time of renewal and celebration. During the lifetime of Nicholas Trammell, however, the new year was a bitter reminder of some of life's losses.
Trammell's son, Phillip, died quickly and unexpectedly in February of 1844, and another son, Robert, in January of 1849. Nicholas Trammell was in his 60s at the time, but the difficult loss of sons, and in his case business partners, is never borne easily.
The most life-changing loss of Nicholas Trammell's many Januarys was early in his life. In late 1783 or early 1784 his father, also named Nicholas, was killed by Indians in Tennessee following a skirmish over a deer carcass. The battle was recounted in some detail in Haywood's history of Tennessee, no doubt with proper heroic embellishments. His mother, Frances (Fanny) Maulding Trammell was made administrator of the estate on January 7, 1784.
Young Nicholas was only three years old.
As a result of the loss of his father, Nick's upbringing included both Trammell and Maulding relatives. The Mauldings were prominent in the region and held key roles in the formation of Logan County, Kentucky, where Andrew Jackson practiced law as early as 1794. Then in 1792, not long after Fanny remarried Zachariah Askey, his mother gave up custody of 12-year-old Nicholas to his uncle, Phillip Trammell.
In an era where life and death, loss and difficulty, were more present and prevalent it is difficult to compare our current sentiments of what his father's death may have meant in the life of Nicholas Trammell. We have no record to tell us how he felt. His Askey relatives were part of his life for many years, so that bond was there. His extended family was always there for him, and no doubt recounted the heroic story of his father's protection of the early Nashborough settlement. Maybe Trammell's reluctance to get involved in situations similar to that which led to his father's death was his imprinted life-lesson.
Stories of loss are also stories of what might have been. Though Nicholas Trammell was raised in the way of the Trammells and Mauldings, we are only left to wonder how being fatherless impacted the life of this infamous smuggler and gambler.