|For many years, I had thought that my third great
grandfather William Ricketts came to Pittsylvania County in 1777 when he
signed the Oath of Allegiance and renounced the king of England. Then I
discovered an early document in the Pittsylvania County Court House which
led me to my fifth great grandfather. At the beginning of the document,
the name was Ricketts and at the end it was spelled Rickels. It appears
that the “t” was not crossed. This led me to discover several land grants
which were made before Pittsylvania County was formed from Halifax County
in 1767. These grants were made out in the name William Rickel (sometimes
This William Ricketts died in 1765 and his name is spelled Ricketts in
his Halifax County will. He “entered” for 400 acres “in his line” on the
Head of Sandy River on 8 Oct 1753. Although there is no record, it appears
that he previously owned land there.
The area at the Head of Sandy River was in Halifax County until it
became Pittsylvania in 1767, and then Henry County in 1777. In that
twenty-four-year period, the original Ricketts land grant was in three
The process to obtain land was first an entry, then a survey, then the
official grant or patent. Sometimes years went by before the official land
patent was issued.
The first recorded grant to William Ricketts was dated 10 Aug 1759 for
400 acres on the Lower South Fork of Sandy River. This tract was down
stream in what is now Pittsylvania County.
William and his wife Mary Catherine sold 200 acres of the South Fork
land to John Jones for 12 pounds on 7 Mar 1763. William Ricketts received
another grant for 354 acres on the South Branch of the South Fork of Sandy
River on 7 Jul 1763.
By the 1765 will, John Frederick Ricketts received 190 acres of land at
the Head of Sandy River. (He sold this land for only 20 pounds to Samuel
Shumate in 1787). A grandson named William Ricketts (apparently the son of
John Frederick) received the estate lands. William sold 100 acres of this
land to William M. Nance for 61 pounds in 1786. He sold another 59 acres,
described as being on Young’s Creek and in both Pittsylvania and Henry
Counties, to Thomas Arthur in 1792.
William Ricketts, the grandson, surveyed 55 acres on White Oak Mountain
in 1780. On 20 Jun 1786, he bought 150 acres of land adjoining the 55 acre
tract. He lived on this 205-acre tract until he died in 1832. Shortly
after his death, a son Nathaniel Ricketts (born 1795) signed a Deed of
Trust against the family land. In 1833, the land was sold at public
auction to recover the $37.90 debt owed to Robert Wilson of Dan’s Hill.
For a long time afterwards the Ricketts of Pittsylvania County owned no