A Sketch of My Life
by Lucy James Mills Ricketts
(1877 - 1954)
We received from our cousin Doris Brown Alexander of Ohio a wonderful treasure we never knew existed. Our
grandmother Lucy James (Mills) Ricketts who was born on April 16, 1877, kept a daily record in a ledger book. She says
below that 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 1940’s 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.
I decided to write a sketch of my life as best I could remember although it is not a very pleasant one but can be
read by friends and relatives after I have passed away.

I was born in Pittsylvania county near Whitmell, Virginia where I spent my childhood days. At the age of seven
years my mother died leaving three little girls: Izetta my oldest sister twelve, Bettie nine and myself seven. She
was a good Christian woman loved by all that knew her, to no her was to love her, but loved best by her own
family. All though as young as I was I never for got that loving face, remember so well the last word she said to us
when she went away. Said for us to be good children until she came back. She had not been so well and was
going to her mothers to spend a week to see if she could regain her health but she grew worse and never came
back home any more, And just a while before Christmas God called her away her work on earth was finished and
she went to bee with her Lord whom she loved so well. So we were left behind to do the best we could.

We had a very good father that loved us
dearly and was all ways ready to do all he
could for us. Just a short while before mother
died my grandfather on daddy’s side had
passed away also and that left grandmother
alone and she came to live with us. She was
very old but she could tell us what to do so she
bee a mother for us. We loved her dearly and
all went well.

We had a happy home never had any crosses,
but mothers mother and father were very old
and all alone so they wanted sister Bettie to
come and live with them, so daddy let her go
and it was very lonely for me after she left
home, for I loved her dearly and we were all
ways playing together so I missed her so much
but we visited each other often. Ida did not
have much time to bee with me at play as she
had to do the house work. Grandmother was
not able to do very much work, but it was a
great pleasure to have her with us. I had too
stop school in the third grade as I had no one
to go with me and it was three miles away and I
could not go alone.
Picture at right:  (from left) James W. Davis,
Jeff Davis, Elizabeth Owen Davis holding
James Mills
.  ---James W. Davis (1828-1894)
and Elizabeth Owen Davis (1833-1922) were
the maternal grandparents of Lucy Mills
(1877-1954).  They are shown in the picture
with Jeff Davis (1867-1931), "son of J. W.
Davis" was written on picture back.
to a young girl just nineteen years of age. She was a girl from town, did not no any thing about house work. We
just had to learn her, but she was very nice to us all and we learnt to love her dearly, but you no it was not like our
own mother for there is only one mother in the wide world . But we all got on nice, never no crosses. She did like
she wanted too and we did the same. Well we had got large enough to have boy friends come to see us at the
house, but never was aloud to go out unless daddy or our cousins that was living with us go out with us. Daddy
was very strict on us but I always thanked him for it.
Picture - Samuel David "Cub" Mills with his
"helpmate" Martha "Mollie" Cobler Mills

Note: Lucy's father, Samuel "Cub" Mills (born
January 2, 1853 and died June 19, 1930)
married Martha "Mollie" Cobler after his first
wife (Lucy's mother) died.  They married
January 14, 1889.  He was 36 years old and
she was nineteen years old.  Mollie was born
in 1870, the child of Simeon and Martha
Cobler.  Mollie died on June 19, 1938.
Well, at the age of 14, I ran away and got
married to Eddie Ricketts [Charlie Edward
Ricketts] although I was very young to start
married life, but never the less, I was happy
with my choice for we loved each other dearly.

My husband had started a crop at my
grandfathers so we went there to make our
home and finish up the crop. I would help my
grandmother do her housework and
sometimes go with my husband to the field.

And all went well until fall when my husband
hired to Mr. Williams for ten dollars a month
and we moved away. His crop was sorry and
he did not have any thing at fall. But we went
to house keeping on but a very little but we
were happy together.

But I had never stayed all day by myself in my
life and it was very lonely for me, no one to
talk too. I spent many lonely ours with no one
to talk too or to cheer me up.
I would bee so glad when time for my husband to come from his work to have him talk to me and to love me and
talk loving words to me. It was so much comfort to me as I got so lonely, but never the less, I loved him good
enough to stay any where to bee with him.
My people did not like it when I ran away but they all got over it and learned to love him. They visited me often and
I went to see them. I had no close neighbors except Mrs. Williams and a old colored lady. Her name was Kit Harper.
If she was colored, she was a friend to me. I liked to have her come and talk to me. She was lots of company as I
was so lonely. Well it was there on February ninth (1894) our darling little baby boy was born to us. We was proud
of it. We named him Leonard. He was a great joy to us both, and as much company for me while his farther was at
his work.

Well Mr. Williams was a very bad man to get along with so Ed my husband decided to move away and he rented a
farm from Mr. Smith and we moved a way. I liked fine as I knew them well, Mrs. Smith was nice to me and helped me
out so much with my little baby as I did not no much about taking care of little ones but it grew fast and was lots of
company for me. I would take him and go out in the afternoon to see some of my neighbors. I had a cousin not very
far from me and she had a little one too. I would go by her house and she would go with me home to see them. My
dear old grandmother was still living and she was all ways glad to see me and the baby and my daddy and
stepmother was always glad to have us come. I always enjoyed going home.

Both of my sisters had got married. Ida married Charlie Owen and Bettie married Cam Collins. I would have the
pleasure of seeing them sometimes but not often as they lived a long ways from me and I had no way to go except
ride in a wagon. People did not have automobiles then, had to walk or ride in wagons. One never had telephones,
electric lights nor any thing like that, but they were all happy in their homes. Well, I was just as happy with what little
I had and my husband and baby as if I had every thing fine. I had a good husband and we spent many happy
hours together.

He had to work hard in his crop but on Saturday or Sunday if we did not have company we had a water melon
feast. One Sunday they cut and eat 23 watermelons that day. I remember very well one that was present that
Sunday was my dear old grandma. She never was able to visit me but twice after I was married as she was so old,
but I went to see her every chance I had until the Lord called her home to bee at rest. It was very lonely when I
went home with out her. She had lived with us after the death of our mother.

Well all things went well. My husband made a nice crop that year, but decided to move away. He rented a farm
from Mr. Burnett on White Oak Mountain. I did not like it so well as it was so far away from home, but you no when
you get married it is the best to try to please your husband. Well after the crop was gathered up I had to say good
by to Mrs. Smith and my love ones at home to go on my journey, but it was sad. They had been so nice to me.
We.., we got moved but I did not like the place a little bit. The house was sorry, but the people was very nice to me
and one of my cousins lived near me. I could visit her often. My husband hired one of my cousins to work with him
and he was a lot of company to us, but I got lonesome at times when they were at work, but my baby
was waling and it kept me busy doing my work and looking after him. He was as cute as a doll. I never
got to go home many times during the year as I had no way to go but to walk. The team was sorry and Mr. Burnett
did not like for us to drive them on Sunday so there were no where to go but sit around home on Sunday. No
church near to go too. Never go to here any sermons.

Well, one night I heard a knock at the door and it was a boy my grandfather had raised come to tell me that my
grandfather had died. It was sad news to me. So on the following morning we went to see him laid away to never
see him again, but the Lord knew best his work on earth was finished so the Lord had called him home and my
grandmother was left alone. All of his children had married and left home, but her youngest boy and his family
came back to live with her.  Well, I went back with a sad heart, but trusting I could meet him in a better world above.

Well, of as fall came on and my husband made a very good crop, but he decided to move back in our old
neighborhood to Mr. Hearp, his brother-in-laws [his half sister Lucy Ricketts 1855-1948 married James Wesley
Hearp 1845-1925]. And believe me, I was glad to get back near home and my old friends. All went well for a few
months and Mr. Hearp and my husband could not get along together so he went to Mr. Owens at Dry Fork and
rented a farm from him so we moved there, but it was a sad day to me. Oh, it was a lonely place on the railroad
and no one lived near me. The nearest neighbor I had was
my oldest sister [Izetta "Ida" Owen] and that was
not near me. I spent many lonely days and hours while my husband was at work. With no one to talk to but my
baby, I did not have very much company. My sister came when she could and I would take my baby and get out
sometimes. I would go to Mrs. Wortons or to see Mrs. Owen in the afternoon. My sister worked and she was not at
tome much but she would come every chance she got. I would go with Ed to the field sometimes and sit in the
shade while he was at work. Any where but to bee my myself. I was so afraid always. Tramps coming around to
scare me.

Well, on the 12 day of July [1895] the Lord blessed us with a baby girl. We named her
Viola. I had a colored girl to
stay with me while I was sick, but after she left, I was all alone again with too babies to look after. It kept me busy
but it did not keep me from being scared and lonely, but I tried to make the best of it. I would be alone all day
except when Ed my husband came to lunch and at night. I was glad when night came so he could be with me.

Well, the crop was finished up and Ed went out to find us a place to move and he was gone too days and I sated
for his return and he came in after dark said he had rented from my daddy and asked me was I happy. I could
hardly wait for the day to come to move a way. I would bee near my farther and good old friends, but was leaving
my dear old sister that had always been a mother to me every since the death of my mother, but the time had
come for us to part and I had to bid her good by. Both of us parted with tears in our eyes and a sad heart but glad
to get away from that place. Well, we got moved all ok and believe me I was some happy to bee back at my old
home and near my dad and my old friends and also my stepmother. She went with me and helped me straighten
up and oh boy how glad I was she had three little ones Louanner, Blanch, and Marthie and I had too. They had
some times at play and was I happy to be back in my old home place a gain and could see my dear old daddy

Well, my husband went to work getting ready for his crop. I kept busy doing my house work and tending to my little
ones and chickens and many days I went to the field with my husband and worked in the field with him, sit my
babies in a box in the shade and let them play wile we worked and then when we went to the house, he would help
me with my work. I was well and I enjoyed work and I liked to help him. We were happy together with our little ones.
On Sunday we would go to church or to see some of our friends. We made a good crop in the fall. My sister Bettie
Collins came and stayed with me too months. She had too little boys and our children had some times together and
her and I had a time to.

Well, October 15 (1899) the Lord blessed us with another baby girl
Leana. My sister stayed with me nearly three
months before he came for her. We lived there two years and were all happy together for Ed made a good crop
and I had good luck with my chickens and garden. But, Mr. Epperson got Ed to come and work with him at the still
house, so we had too part again. We liked the people all right. They were nice to us, but I did not like for my
husband to be in the whiskey business. For some time he would be out late at night and I scarcely knew where he
was and what he was doing. So I spent many (un)easy hours about him.
sister of Lucy Mills Ricketts.  Charlie & Izetta
"Ida" Owen's land was adjacent to the original
1780 land grant of William Ricketts, near White
Oak Mountain.  The cabin that Lucy and Eddie
original Ricketts homestead, which had been
lost by the Ricketts family in 1833 for a debt of
just over $37.  The Robertson family cemetery is
on the old Owen farm.  Edward Robertson
(1755-1826) served in the Revolutionary War
from Amelia County, Virginia.
In the fall we moved to the mountains again on
Mrs. Hutchins place
near my sister Ida [Izetta]
. It was a very lonely place, but my
husbands work was not far from the house and I
stayed in the field with him. The best part of the
time unless I had company, I would take my help
him work the crop and when we went to the
house he helped me with the work.

And we went down to see sisters one Saturday
evening and just as we got there it started
snowing and we stayed on Monday. It was cold
and the snow drifted all day. Tuesday it had
cleared away and we started for home, had
Charlie’s [Owen] old white mule hooked up to
the wagon and the children and myself in the
wagon and Ed [Ricketts] and Charlie [Owen]and
a colored boy walked in front trying to break
away for the wagon. Well you never seen such a
time as we had getting home. We were nearly
frozen when we got there. Ed made a fire and
we all got warm, but everything was froze up. All
my can Fruit had froze and everything else.
Well, they went out hunting and I think they
came back with over 20 rabbits.
see me some times. It as a lonely place, no one near me up on top of the mountain. I stayed in the field with my
said I can help you so when he started out after dinner, I taken a horse and my three little children and went with
him to the field and I worked with him in the field every day until the crop was saved. He would help me do the
work at the house, but I enjoyed it but I was taken down sick and for four weeks was not able to do any of my
house work, but I hired a colored girl Sarah Carter. She did my work well and was good to my children. They all
liked her. I kept her until I got able to do my work with my husbands help, but was not very strong.

Well, Ed got the crop sold and we were getting ready to move and oh boy we were moving back to my daddy’s
farm that was good to me to bee near my people again. The day came to move, but I was not feeling so well, but
moved just the same. They all received us gladly. We taken dinner with them and then my stepmother went with
me to the house and helped me to straighten up .Well, it was a pleasure to me to live near some one. Papa
people on one side and my aunt on the other side.

Well, my husband was a great hunter. He liked to set traps for rabbits, so he set them and believe me he caught
lots of them. Papa would sell them in town at 10 cent a piece. One Sunday morning Papa came in and told my
husband there was a hundred of birds out there so up out of the bed he got and reached for his gun. I said, you
no today is the Sabbath Day and he laid the gun up and never named the birds no more. He never wanted to take
a gun down on Sunday any more. So during the hunting season he caught 165 rabbits and 3 opossums, 5 musk
rats. It was estimated that he killed more than he trapped.

Well, springtime came on and he was busy planning for his crop and I was busy at the house doing my house
work and had a lot of little chickens and a nice garden but my health was not so good and I could not go with him
to work in his crop. My little boy
Leonard had gotten large enough to help me do many little errands. He could
bring me water and bring in stove wood and do lots of things a round the house and my step mothers children
were nice to help me out with my work and one of my aunts lived near me Aunt Fannie Mills and George Mills. We
visited them every day or too and they both were old and he was crippled, but had been that way all his life or as
long as I could remember. He always had lived near us and we had all had always liked him. Papa and him came
to see me everyday. We all had lots of good times together but Dean Reader, I was 39 when I began writing this
book and I could only write a sketch of what had past in all those years, but I had lots of good. A husband and
three sweet little children and I was happy with them .  

Well I decided one Saturday evening to make a visit to see my sister. It was a long ways, but I wanted to see her
myself.  Eddie went back home and said he would come for me the next day but I waited until evening and he did
not come and I made Beth and Cam get ready and go with me home as I know something had gone wrong.

My father had hired a woman to help them out with his crop and help his wife about the house, so she walked out
and never said a word to no one and we all guessed she had gone home or where she came from. She was a
stranger, but believe me she knew how to work. Well, she had been gone a week that day and someone
recounted that they had seen her in the woods that day, so the whole neighborhood of mine set out to hunt for
her. And they found her the following day about and half a mile from the house, but she was down and could not
speak. They taken her and carried her to my house.

Well, there were a crowd of people around my house when we came in sight and it excited me thinking something
had happened to Ed, but he had been hunting for her was why he did not come for me. Well, that woman laid
there for a week and we decided we could not care for her so we sent her to the poor house, but she got so she
could talk and even walk, but never could open her eyes. I never heard from her any more.

Well, it was late in the fall and after the crop was all saves, my husband decided he would not try farming so he
would run a store for Mr. Williams and we got ready to move away, but I disliked to move away from my daddy and
friends, but the best of friends has to part. Well we got moved, but I did not like no neighbors to go to see and Ed
had to stay at the store all day and until late at night and I was so lonely no one but myself and three little children.
"A Sketch of My Life" - Part Two