Saturday, January 16, 2021

Meet Ruby Davis, the bootlegger of Rippavilla

A retouched photo of Ruby Davis hangs in a second-floor room at Rippavilla.

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In the late 1950s, Ruby Davis lived at the Rippavilla plantation mansion in Spring Hill, Tenn., a place steeped in Civil War history. Among her other nefarious activities there, Davis sold moonshine — she even kept a ledger book of illicit sales to folks in the area. (It’s in the case below her photo above.) 

Ruby, according to a well-placed source, had a heart of gold, and her daughter had a penchant for marriage — she was married 12 times. (Or was it 10 times? Ah, who’s counting? Once you get past three, it’s hard to keep track.) 

Confederate troops were camped at the Rippaville plantation the night John Schofield’s U.S. Army soldiers slipped past them on the nearby Columbia Pike on Nov. 29, 1864. (The Battle of Franklin was fought the next day.) No, Ruby wasn’t there to distract them. 

This retouched photo of the old bootlegger hangs in Rippavilla, which is open to the public.

I'm a former West Virginian who appreciates the power of moonshine, character and characters. So, I'll carve out time someday to write much more about Ruby, who fascinates me. 😃

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