The Saga of James H. Ruffin of Rocky Mount Mills

On February 9, 1899, James H. Ruffin, former manager of Rocky Mount Mills, attempted to end his life on his way to New Orleans via train to attend a carnival. People found him in the restroom nearly dead from loss of blood after slashing his wrists. He had $21,450[1] in cash and checks on his person. He expressed that he was tired of living and had no immediate family.[2][3] He had resigned as manager of the mill in 1898 citing ill health. The summer of that year, Ruffin had an “attack of nervous prostration” due to overwork.[4] He took two trips to improve his health but his ill health continued, forcing him to resign. Thomas H. Battle replaced him at Rocky Mount Mills. Ruffin’s official diagnosis was “melancholia superinduced by nervous prostration.”[5] Ruffin was named treasurer and superintendent of mill operations in 1886 during a period of administrative reorganization. In this period in the 1880s, the Battle Family relinquished financial control...
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