Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ricketts men served as Confederate soldiers in all thirteen states and a Confederate unit from Maryland. In 1982 B. C. (That’s before computers, home computers at least), I spent two full days in the National Archives in Washington, D. C. researching and recording these soldiers. Number 13 Ricketts soldier on the list below is my great grandfather. This is Reuben B. Ricketts with his first wife, the former Jane Richardson. Their wedding was on Deember 18, 1853. Reuben B. Ricketts. Reuben B. was a brick mason in Danville, Virginia on September 5, 1860. Apparently Jane died, and on July 16, 1860, 29-year-old Reuben B. Ricketts had married 22-year-old Eliza Elliott on May 23, 1861. The next year Reuben, was registered as a qualified voter in Danville and voted in favor of secession from the Union which resulted in the Civil War. An earlier vote did not favor sucession, but when Pres. Abraham Lincoln demanded that Virginia sent 75,000 troops against the other Southern states, our state alligned with the South.

On March 19, 1862, Reuben enlisted as a private in Capt. Joseph R. Cabell’s Co. E of the 38th Virginia Infantry Regiment. Later that year, he was a patient in the Lynchburg Confederate hospital and was transferred to the hospital in Danville “which was not more than one hundred yards distance from his home.” So we know that he lived in the area of Franklin Street near the railroad depot. He was present with his company from May until August of 1863. His regiment was then in Pennsylvania and he was at the Battle of Gettysburg that summer. Many Danville men were killed or wounded in that battle, including Joseph R. Cabell, who was shot, but Reuben B. Ricketts survived. Col. Joseph R. Cabell later commanded the 38th Infantry Regiment was killed in battle near Drury's Bluff on the James River below Richmond. Reuben remained with his company and the last military record shows him present on February 25, 1865.

The 1870 census shows Reuben B. Ricketts as a 40-year old merchant with wife Eliza J., age 32 and children Lucy Ann 12, Virginia T. 11, Emma L. 4, and William B. 2. James Henry Ricketts was staying with his maternal grandparents when the 1870 census was taken. Another son, Charlie Edward Ricketts (my grandfather), was born on June 23, 1870, after the census taker came around. A near neighbor is Capt.William Clarkson, who lived on what is now Clarkson Street. Clarkson's farm was once 63 acres (the map above is a part of this tract), which went up to the corner of Franklin Turnpike and Piney Forest Road where Wendy's is now located

In January of 1874, Reuben B. Ricketts declared bankruptcy. He claimed a homestead exemption on his $800-dollar house on 16 ½ acres with a storehouse and other improvements. I guess if you are bankrupt, you have certain needs. So he exempted "80 gallons of whiskey, 40 gallons of blackberry brandy, 100 pounds of coffee, 30 pairs of shoes, 500 pounds of candy, one cooking stove, and five barrels of corn."

On January 14, 1876, Reuben B. Ricketts purchased a one-acre parcel of land 2 ½ miles from Danville with a storehouse. On Feb. 22, 1876, he bought another 10-acre tract on Wilson's Ferry Road (Piney Forest Road) up to the Franklin Turnpike. At the four-way intersection, the other roads led south to Danville, north to Callands and on to Franklin and Botetourt counties, and northeast to the Pittsylvania courthouse at Chatham. Today, this is the intersection of Piney Forest Road and Franklin Turnpike in Danville, Virginia. This crossroads has always been a perfect location for stores and Ricketts set up his store on the southwest corner, where the Wendy's Restaurant is now located. Although he only kept the property for a year, later documents mention a point near “Ricketts Old Stand.”
This map is of a strip of land which began across from the present Arby's on Piney Forest Road at the point which the Lynchburg and Danville Railroad was constructed in 1874. The road passed over the tracks on a "dry bridge" (elevated). The community cemetery where R. B. Ricketts was buried on June 9,1891 was large. A city map reserves a space of 20 x 40 feet. The graves were marked by field stones which have mostly been scraped off the graves and hauled away to make way for commercial development. The graveyard is at the rear of houses on Major Court. My present house is almost in sight of this graveyard. My Father Reuben Edward Ricketts (1901-1957) was named for his grandfather.

There are 136 names here, but some are probably the same individual who served in different units. There are various spellings which are recorded as written. Many soldiers at that time could not read or write.

Armed with an antique fountain pen and a magic marker, I made a 17 x 22 inch poster, which I have here chopped up. I have some left at $3 each.