|by Lucy James Mills Ricketts
(1877 - 1954)
|grandmother Lucy James (Mills) Ricketts who was born on April 16, 1877, kept a daily record in a ledger book. She said she
started writing the diary when she was 39 years old - 1916. Beginning on page 271 of the diary, she writes a sketch of her life
through 1921. She tells about the birth of all eight of her children. Lucy's youngest daughter Thelma took the diary to Florida in
the 1940s when she moved there. Although Lucy left school during the third grade, she writes remarkably well. Some of the
spelling has been left as she wrote it and some has been corrected to facilitate reading. Part One
|could bee together. Leonard, my oldest boy, was large enough to help me do many things. We planted us a nice
little garden to have something to do and it came in nice. We had plenty of vegetables off of it and it was a pleasure
to us to work in it.
We.., the weather got so hot, clouds began to rise and I always was scared to stay by my self with no one but my
little children and if I was alone, I would always call Charles Liggons to come stay with me. He was a good little boy,
always ready to help me any way he could. It was years afterwards that he got killed by a train as I heard, he was
found dead on the railroad. Well, I liked my home fine all but my husband being away from home so much. He was
hired and of course he had to do as he was told. I was not feeling so well and had all my work to do and three little
ones to cook for and wait on.
|Well, it was August and the weather was so hot, but the 8 day
of August 1901, the stork visited our home and gave me
another little baby boy. We names him Ruben Edward. Then
I had four little ones to care for. Well it was not three weeks old
and I was very feeble not able to do any of my house work and
then my oldest boy [Leonard]] was taken down with the fever,
real sick and three days later my second child Viola taken the
fever too and two babies to care for and not any one to do any
thing for us, but my husband he had to stop work and take
care of us day and night. He was busy.
Mrs. Pigg came every day and did what she could to help us
out but it was several weeks before we were able to bee up. My
husband stayed out from his work several weeks, but Mr. Pigg
was nice to him until we got able for him to go back to work. I
never forgot them for their kindness to my family. They were
always ready to do all they could to help us out where many so
wealthy as they were would of turned us down, but they did all
they could for our comfort and may the Lord bless them for it.
|Picture: Charlie "Ed" Ricketts and Lucy James
(Mills) Ricketts with their first three children:
Leonard, Viola and Lena (Leana)
|I spent many lonely ours never got to go home
often to see my people and they never came to
see me often as it was so fair away and Mr.
Williams made my husband sell whiskey and I did
not like that so I was so dissatisfied he decided to
move away and he went to Dry Fork and hired to
Mr. Pigg. And believer me I was some glad for my
too sisters were living at Dry Fork, but I wish you
could of seen my house. It was a too room log
was so dirty, but I went to work and cleaned it up
the best I could.
But was I happy to bee near my sisters and lots
of good neighbors. My husband went to work
Monday and I was busy cleaning up and getting
everything straight but on thing I was not
lonesome, for I had plenty of good neighbors to
come to see me and I could go to see my sisters
which was lots of comfort to me. Mrs. Dalton was
my nearest neighbors and she came every day.
We had some good time together, she had one
little baby and I had three little ones.
|Well, my children got well but I stayed very week, not able to do my work. I decided to go to my sisters for a visit and
see if it would help me and I packed up and went to my sister Bet Collins and I had not been there many days before
I felt lots better. The change did me lots of good. In a week time I and the children had improved so much I decided
to go back home so Cam and Bet taken me home. When my husband and Mrs. Pigg found out I had arrived home,
they came at once and was delighted to see how we had improved in such a short time. Well, as time went on, all
Ed made a good salary and we got alone well, but Mr. Pigg made whiskey and he put my husband in a bar room to
sell whiskey and that did not suit me as my little boy [Leonard] stayed with his daddy nearly every day and I did not
want him to come up in a whiskey shop and Ed taken to drink and always a drunken crowd around and that was
against my wishes, but he was always good to me but that was not my wishes for him to drink or handle whiskey.
There were fighting and cursing all the time and write in sight of my house. That kept me nervous and worried all the
time so one night my husband got in a fight and was stabbed in the side real back and I was sick in bed at the time.
Oh, no one knew what I went through with just the good Lord's help. That led me through with it.
So I just told my husband Ed, as I called him, I just could not stand it any longer. I could and would not stand living
such a life and raise up our boy in a whiskey shop, no never. And he decided to get away as he was tired of it too,
so he went and rented a farm from Mr. Jim Evans. So he bought a team and believe me I was glad when the day
came to move away, but Mr. and Mrs. Pigg had been nice to us and did not want us to move away. Mr. Pigg begged
for Ed to stay but he would not, said he would never sell whiskey anymore.
Well, we got moved and I was so happy out on the farm and Ed and myself and children could all bee to gather. He
had hired out for three years and had to work like a slave day and most of the night and it was a lonely life for me
with my little ones. It was hard on myself and him too at home at meal time always in a rush to get back to his work,
but on the farm, he could bee with his family more and we was all happy. We bought us chickens, pigs, a cow, and
oh how happy we were. Leonard and Viola was large enough to go to school and they were learning fast so all
went well. Mr. and Mrs. Evans were so nice and kind to us. We all got along nicely. In the spring, Ed hired some help
to help him in his crop and I would help him in the garden, but had so much work to do in the house, I did not have
time to help in the crop and we had a beautiful shady yard and the children had a nice time playing out doors. I had
been laying off some times and I would go out to visit my neighbors and my too sisters and I had lots of company.
Well fall came and Ed made a good crop and it sold well. One evening he was going to town to carry a load of
tobacco and Leonard had a gun hid Daddy had bought for him. And the trigger would not stand and his daddy told
him he could go with him to town and have it fixed. I was busy in the cook room. Leonard and Baxton Evans came
running in and taken the gun down. He said to Baxton, if that clock was a bird I would show you how to kill it and he
did not no the gun was loaded and he pulled the trigger and it went off in the house and tore the clock all to pieces.
It scared us all. Ed heard it go off and he came running to the house to see what was the trouble. He wanted to whip
Leonard for being so careless, but I knew it would do no good so I told him not, but they went on to town and I was
so nervous I did not rest any all night with no click ticking. It sounded so lonesome I could not rest, but believer me
when they returned home the following day, I dame Ed go to the store and by another one.
|and all my housework to do, hardly ever got out to see any one as it kept me busy at home. It was a rough winter
and spring had came and my husband had hired one of his sisters boys to help him on the farm. [Probably James
Wesley Hearp, Jr (b.1886), son of Lucy Ricketts Hearp. He married Cora Brown in 1905.] He was a very nice boy
and was good to the children. We all liked him fine. He stayed with us about too months and he went home one
Saturday evening and when he came back Sunday night with a wife he had not told us anything about getting
married. Well, we kept them and she helped me do all my work for a week, then she stopped. I always had breakfast
on the table when she arose after she ate and Ed and Jim went to work, she would go back to her room and stay
until I rang the bell for dinner and then she would come down for dinner and I had worked until I was nearly give out.
So one day I told her husband about the way she was doing and he seamed to be surprised. So Ed told him I had so
much to do and all my little ones to wait on, he would let them cook to their selves. They did not like it, but they had
too rooms to their selves and seamed that they got cross with our children and one day Jim threatened to whip
Leonard and it made Ed mad and he told him to leave and they moved away. Then he hired one of my cousins
Robert Mills to help him finish up the crop and all went well the rest of the year. Spring came and it was a busy time.
do many things in the house. Ed had a tenant on the place Charlie Elliott. He had a wife and too small children and I
do say I did not like his wife. But oh well, I will not say any more about her. Just hope to meet them in heaven.
Well on the 24 day of April  another son was born to us. That was the fifth one but we were happy over him. I
named him Percy Hutching [Hutchins]. I had a girl hired Mollie Elliott to do my work until I was able to do for my self.
She left in four weeks but I was not very strong, but went to work again. Five little ones and then a hired hand, eight
in all to cook for and all my house cleaning, milking to do and I had lots of chickens, ducks, ginneys, and all to tend
too. My husband was so busy in the crop he did not have time to help me at the house. He made a good crop, but it
was a wet fall and they worked in the rain to save the crop. After it was saved, he decided to move to town Danville,
Va. And stop farming.
Well I did not like it much but did not say any thing much against it. Well, he went and sold out his horses, cows,
chickens, corn and sold his tobacco in the barn. Oh, it looked hard to me to see every thing we had go. Well, we
carried one cow and about a thousand pounds of meet we had killed and eight barrels of flower. Ed hired a box car
on the train and packed up all our furniture in it and then we got ready and bid all our friends farewell with tears in
our eyes. But when I had to say good by to my too sisters that I loved so well, I wept bitterly, for I new I could not see
them often. Well, we arrived in town about knight, went to my uncles to spend the night. We were up early up the
following morning to go to our home on Washington St, but I enjoyed spending the night with my uncle and aunt. I
had spent many happy hours at their home in my child hood days. Their baby daughter and myself were the dearest
friends that ever met, but she had past away at the age of 17. That was a great shock to the whole family and also
to myself. They were four children in all three girls and one boy. The too girls Kate and Ellen and the boy Ruffes.
The girls never married. The boy married but there was never no children was born to him, so the family never
increased any more.
Well, on the following morning our furniture arrived an we were very busy getting every thing straight. My husband
had not gotten any job and he was there to help me. It was cold. We moved on Friday and Monday Percy my baby
was taken sick with pneumonia. Was bad off for 9 days. The Doctor came every day for 9 days, but he got better
soon. Well our trouble began on Monday. Our cow was taken sick and died. Well after a few weeks, Ed got a job at
the City Stables. Leonard and Viola wanted to go to work and they got work in the cigarette factory. Ed had to work
day and night, never at home, only at meal time. He was boss over 20 colored men and he never liked colored
people any way and it kept me uneasy about him all the time, for fear he would have trouble with them and perhaps
get killed, but he never had any trouble but once with them. [Our ancestors had flaws; didn't yours?]
Well, we were renting a house from Mrs. Burns, a very good woman, but it was a long walk for them to get to their
work. So we decided to move and we rented a house from Dr. Vann on Walker [Street]. It was near the car line, just
a block from the street car which were nice for all liked the place fine. Had a nice garden. I bought me a cow and a
nice lot of chickens and I felt like I had began to live again.
Well, we made it fine until spring. My husband still worked for the city and his step mother lived in part of my house
and she was a lot of company to me at night, but she worked in the day. All went well until the first of March. My
oldest boy Leonard taken the measles and was real sick and then all the children taken them. Before he got well
and believe me I had a time waiting on them and doing all my house work, Ed had to work and I could not get any
one to help me. I went day and night waiting on my five children until I was almost give out and the Doctor came in
and said if I did not get some rest I would get down myself, so Ed got off that night and him and Mrs. Ricketts put me
to bed and they waited on the children all night and I felt fine the next morning when I arose.
Well, they all got well and Leonard and Viola went back to work and all went well for a while, but I often got home
sick for the country and to see my love ones back home. They did not get to see me often and I had so many little
ones and all my work to do, I could hardly ever get out, but I had real good neighbors that came to see me every
day and they were lots of company to me and Mrs. Ricketts [Celeste Hearp, third wife of Reuben B. Ricketts] that
lived in the house with me was lots of company to me at knight when she came home from work..
Well, on the 22 day of March  we had another girl baby born to us. We named it Lucy. It was a darling little
mite and we loved it dearly. Well, Mrs. Ricketts stopped work and kept house for me and she did fine for a week and
her daughter came in one night with three little ones, had left her husband. So Mrs. Ricketts had to go back to work
she said to feed them. I stopped Viola from work to do my work until I got able to do my work again, but I got along
fine, but my baby was not well, was a lot of trouble.
Well, we decided to move out on Main St. I did not like the place very much, but it was nearer their work and I was
like the old saying any where I hung my hat was home sweet home to me. But I had some good neighbors and we
had good times together. Mrs. Pall was my next door neighbor and she had a boy and a girl and they were all so
good and kind to all.
Well my oldest daughter Viola was taken down sick with typhoid fever - lay critically ill for six weeks. No one was
allowed to go in the room but her daddy and myself and he had to work in the day as the Doctor came every day. It
was a lot of expenses to us. I had a sick baby to care for and Viola and all my housework to do and by night I was
nearly give out. Her daddy stayed in the room with her all night and if she needed me her farther called for me. She
was very ill for six weeks before she began to improve. She was so week, just had to hold her up and learn her to
walk like a baby, but she improved fast and I let her go out in the country to my sisters and stay a while and she was
feeling fine when she came back home.
All went well for a while, It had been a long time since I had visited my sisters and taking the three little ones and
went to visit them. They met me at the station and was as ever glad to see myself and little ones and believe me, I
was glad to get out again in the good old country, but was not satisfied away from the rest of my family, so I returned
home for there was no place like home to me and to be with my family. When I got home Leaner [Leana, Lena] was
in the bed with the mumps and what was worse myself and all the rest of the children had to have them and I think it
taken about three months before we got through with them.
We all got well and moved over town on Monrow [Monroe] St. I liked there fine and we had very nice neighbors and I
lived one block from my fathers home. I could see him often which was great pleasure to me and I taken Lou my
sister [probably Emma Mills Tate, her half-sister] and her husband to board with me. They did not stay so long as
she got sick and they went back to Papa to board.
Well, by oldest daughter Viola was taken sick and was very sick for months. We had five different doctors. with her. I
had to be up day and knight with her. She would not let any one wait on her but myself. Her farther was obliged to
work as our expenses were so much and I had all my work to do and bee sides a little baby to tend too besides until I
nearly gave out.
I never for got too friends Mrs. Brooks and Mrs. Jackson. They sit up with me many knights to help me out. No one
ever knew what I went through wit for months, but she finely got well - and got able to go back to work. But the same
week she went to work my little boy Percy cut his arm so badly it taken ten stitches to sew it up. That was more
trouble for me. I had to take him to the doctor every other day to have it dressed. Such is life, but seemed like I was
having a time. Well, by the time his arm got well, my husband and Ruben were taken sick in bed and bad off, having
the doctor with both of them and it kept me up day and night waiting on them and I was nearly broken down and it
was all we could do to make it as no one was at work but Leana and Viola and I had to keep Leana out to help me
do my work at the house. It was several weeks before Ed was able to go back to work. Ruben was sick several
weeks but they all got well and went to work and Christmas came and we all had a nice Christmas and all went well
with us until spring and all of my entire family except Viola started having chills. Never a day that some one in my
family were not in bed and I was not so well my self, but was able to do my work and wait on the sick ones.
|This is Danny Ricketts' dad.