Family Funeral 1936 at Green Pond in Pittsylvania County, Virginia

 My mother was Annie Marie Ricketts (1903-1978), daughter of Mark Daniel “Dan” Jones (1878-1946)and Annie Brooks Pruett (1880-1969).  The Jones and Atkins families are connected way back in the Museville, Climax and Green Pond area northeast of the courthouse in Pittsylvania County.

 William Ballard Adkins and Mollie Belle Jones Adkins were first cousins who married in 1896. William Ballard was the son of Dan’s aunt Martha Ann Jones who married Ballard Preston Adkins. Martha Ann and John Ellis (parents of Dan and Martha Ann) were children of Mark H. Jones who married Sarah Ann “Sally” Rigney in 1844. I hope I have this right. It does get confusing.

William Ballard Adkins, son of Ballard Preston Adkins and Martha Ann Jones Adkins, was born on 8 Mar 1877 and died on 3 May 1936. My grandfather, his uncle Mark Daniel “Dan” Jones (1878-1946) and several first cousins of Danville attended the funeral at Climax from Danville.

On December 17, 2007, I talked with three relatives who were there in Climax in 1936. Katie Jones McKinney, daughter of Dan, said that Ballard was buried on the Keen Adkins farm. I believe this is Charles Keen Adkins (4 Feb 1874 d 26 Nov 1957) who was Ballard’s brother. Lafayette W. “Mack” McKinney, Jr. (my first cousin) and I rode out last Friday December 14, 2007 and saw Keen’s tombstone in the large cemetery on SR 649 near the Climax intersection. There are many McDowells, Adkins, and Kendricks with marked headstones. We just happened to see some tombstones off the road to the north. Looking at a topographical map, it appears that the old road was very close to the cemetery, but the road was probably straightened out when it was paved.

Keen’s first wife Eunie Frances McDowell died in 1911and he married her sister Mittie McDowell in 1913. Ballard and wife Mollie Belle Jones (April 1876-3 Mar 1948) were very poor and could not afford a funeral director. Katie’s brother Carl Daniel Jones (1916-1998) worked for Townes Funeral Home in Danville. Carl borrowed the family car and took some of the family out to Climax in Pittsylvania.

Grandpa Dan Jones (age 58) and Grandma Annie Pruett Jones (age 56) took his car with Katie, then age 17, and his grandchildren (my sisters) Idella and Elaine who were 12 and 5 years old. My brother Ray Ricketts, who was nine years old, was also along on the trip. They stopped at Liles Service Station, just outside the city limits, to buy gas. While Mr. Liles was pumping the gas, he commented that he thought they were going on a picnic, because they were having such a good time. As Dan Jones turned to look behind him to pull out, there was a loud horn blowing. He said “Oh, Harry, who is that blowing that horn? Come on by!” The girls told him that it was his own horn an his elbow was resting on the horn button. Grandpa Jones was always laughing and liked to have a good time. Aunt Sallie was at the funeral, but it seems she was on the family car with Carl.

Elaine would have been six years old on June 21, 1936, but she remembers the trip well. She said that when they went into Aunt Belle’s house, Ballard’s coffin had not arrived. They had him stretched out on straight back chairs with a blanket over him. She said the children watched closely to see if the blanket moved. At the graveyard “out in a pasture,” someone said that Mr. Carl Jones was an undertaker and in charge and that if anyone wanted to view the body one more time, that he would open the coffin. No one spoke up.

Uncle Austin Jones, another of Dan’s sons, remembers letting Ballard down into the grave with his body wrapped in a blanket. They put boards over him before the dirt was shoveled in. It is likely that both stories are right. Often poor people borrow a casket for the funeral and return it to the funeral home afterwards. Carl, who worked for the funeral home, probably arranged the coffin to be used.

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