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J. Henry Burnett was the son of Rev. J. H. Burnett (Professor & Preacher). J. Henry lived in Auburn until the 1930s when he went to Atlanta, Georgia. His love of Auburn prompted him to write to the Auburn Times about the many people he knew and admired so well. He named his writings "Auburn in the Long Ago."

Subject:     Mr. Alex C. Ritchey, Premier Traveling Salesman

Auburn Times   February 9, 1939

One of the finest men, best men, and outstanding citizens of Auburn in my boyhood days was Mr. Alex C. Ritchey, a native of Allen County, Ky., and awfully proud of his native county. He lived in Auburn but traveled in Texas for a St., Louis Hat Company, and was tremendously successful. He was one of the best mixers I have ever seen. Everyone who knew him loved him and his trade thought there was no one like Alex Ritchey.

His sideline and great joy was securing positions for worthy young men and there was almost a steady stream of Auburn boys, Logan County and Allen County boys who went to St. Louis and upon the word of Mr. Ritchey were given positions.

He and my father were very close personal friends and I have often wondered why father did not ask him to place me in St. Louis, but I went to Louisville instead. Mr. Ritchey had a lovely and lovable wife and she carried on and reared the children in their splendid home while he was on the road. His home coming two of three times a year was an event in the town as well as in his home. They had a large and attractive home and a very large, shady yard. Every summer they would have visitors who came to visit them. The ones I recall mostly were girls and among those there are a few that stand out in my memory. Delia Ritter and Pulliam girls, Annie and Mary, were great favorites with us boys.

Mr. Ritchey had considerable farmland and I remember very well working in the tobacco patch on his place. Then, too, my brother George and I gathered blackberries and Mrs. Ritchey and Mrs. Ritchey was our best customer. Mr. and Mrs. Ritchey had five children who lived to be grown and three or four who died in infancy. John was the only son who lived to be grown and he is now (and has been for years) living in St. Louis. He is in the insurance business. The four girls were: May, who married Mr. Payne of St. Louis, who died a few years ago and left her a widow with one child, a grown son; then Blanche, who lived in Auburn, then in St. Louis and went home to Heaven from St. Louis. She was very popular, but never married. The youngest daughter Lena died before the family moved to St. Louis years ago. No, Katie or Katherine was the youngest and she is living in St. Louis with her sister, May (Mrs. Payne). Catherine has never married. John has no children. I was in St. Louis two years ago and saw John, May and Catherine. It was a great joy to see them again.

The Ritchey home in Auburn was an ideal place for parties and we had many there and in the summer with Japanese lantern strung in the yard, the place looked like a veritable fairyland. Then Mrs. Ritchey, John and the girls were such gracious host and hostesses.

The three Burnett boys would be looked for at the Ritchey home when they were missed at home, so they tell me, and I confess it. I think we showed fine taste for three attractive girls about our ages all in one home, was most unusual. The entire family of children got their education at the Auburn College and my father counted the Mr. Ritchey as one of his very best patrons. Mr. Ritchey was one of the most consecrated Christian men of Auburn and then of the Third Baptist Church of St. Louis after the family moved there. John is a deacon in that church now and the Richey's stand high in that wonderful church. No finer family ever lived in Auburn than the Ritchey family and that goes for father, mother and all five children.

Yours sincerely,

                        Macon, Georgia




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