Archive for October, 2008

Pictures of Dry Fork Distilleries circa 1910 surface

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

       In 1914, Virginia residents voted to ban the manufacture and sale of alcohol.  In 1920, the 18th Amendment outlawed whiskey in the entire United States.  The Prohibition, which lasted until 1933, when the 21st Amendment, ended this restriction.   
My grandfather Charlie Edward Ricketts worked in one of the Dry Fork, Virginia distilleries around 1900 when the manufacture of whiskey was legal.  My grandmother Lucy was not happy about him working there. 
 My grandmother Lucy James Ricketts (1877-1953).  Lucy, know as Jimmy, wrote about life at Dry Fork beginning in the 1800s.  Look at  
I spent many lonely hours, never got to go home often to see my people and they never came to see me often as it was so far 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.
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.
On October 27, 2008, my friend Craig Stowe shared with me two photographs of the Dry Fork distilleries.

This is Charlie Edward Ricketts with his wife Lucy James Mills Ricketts and her father Samuel David Mills(1853-1920).  In 1900, “Eddie” (age 29) and “Jimmy” (age 23) were living next door to her father on the Dry Fork Road with their first three children: (1) Willie Leanard Ricketts (age 7), Viola Lee Ricketts (age 4) and Lena W. (age 2).  They told the census taker they had been married eight years.  On August 8, 1901, my father Reuben Edward Ricketts (1901-1957) was born.   

The sign over the store reads: “Edward Jones Distillery No. 57 Dist. of Va. Registered.’  Ed Jones was born in 1884 and married Lucy Burnett in 1904.  Ed was operating this distillery in 1910 when the census taken came around.  He was then 26 years old.  Their three children were daughter Dessie, age 5, son Flure, age 4, and Bashly age two months.   

This is probably the Pigg Distillery with the Pigg (later Jones) Mill in the background.  The Pigg Distillery was said to be one of the largest in the state, employing fourteen workers.  We believe that this is where Eddie Ricketts worked around 1900.  

Craig Stowe shared these photographs with me on October 27, 2008.  He remembers them in his house when he was a child.  Craig was born in 1914, the year that all the distilleries in Virginia, both large and small, were closed by law. 

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