Loretta Lynn ‘never knew where babies came from’ until she became a mom: Meet her family & the kids she lost

The most decorated country music performer in history, a loving wife, and a mother of six, Loretta Lynn had quite the ride.

She lived in extreme poverty as a child in the coal-mining hills of Kentucky; according to rumors, her mother used Sears catalog pages as wallpaper.

It took the daughter of a coal miner some time before she realized where babies came from because she married Oliver “Mooney” Lynn when she was just 16 years old.

The most decorated country music performer in history, a loving wife, and a mother of six, Loretta Lynn had quite the ride.

She lived in extreme poverty as a child in the coal-mining hills of Kentucky; according to rumors, her mother used Sears catalog pages as wallpaper.It took the daughter of a coal miner some time before she realized where babies came from because she married Oliver “Mooney” Lynn when she was just 16 years old.

”The winters were cold, so my mommy glued newspapers and pages from old Sears Roebuck catalogs to the wall to help keep the cold out. We didn’t have money for wallpaper, but my mommy made that old house stay warm and beautiful,” Loretta said.

When she was barely 16 years old and he was 21 years old, she married her first husband, Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn. Loretta was a young stay-at-home mom, and her husband supported the family by working as a logger.

The family ultimately made the decision to relocate from Kentucky to Custer, Washington, a logging town. It was there that Loretta started feeling ill in the mornings without knowing why. She made the decision to see her doctor, who then instructed her to remove her clothes.

”I just pulled the sheet over my head, like an ostrich. When he was done, Doc told me I could get dressed again. After that, he put his arm around my waist and he said, ’Honey, your trouble is, you’re pregnant,” Loretta explained in her book “Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner’s Daughter”.

The young, innocent Loretta, who was still a minor at the time, was shocked by the news. She stated that she had no idea what being pregnant entailed or how children were created.

“I never knew where babies came from until it happened to me,” she once famously said.

In December 1949, Jack, her first child, was born. His birth narrative reveals a lot about Loretta and her family’s living situation. Just a few hours after giving birth to Jack, Loretta left for home because she couldn’t afford to stay overnight at the hospital.

After having her second child, Loretta lost two pregnancies. Unfortunately, the second miscarriage led to blood poisoning, and once more she was unable to pay for medical attention. She did manage to survive, although it wasn’t by much.

Despite everything, Loretta kept becoming pregnant. Medical professionals advised Cesarean section for Loretta, who was expecting her third child. She had to get her husband’s approval in order to proceed, which presented a difficulty.

Surprisingly, she couldn’t sign her own consent form because she was still a minor. Since her husband Doolittle was out in the woods working, this became to be a significant issue. After spending days in the hospital, Loretta finally gave birth to her child naturally, and everything went smoothly.

“Doo called in from some logging camp and they kept teasing him. First they said it was a boy, then a girl, then a boy again. But it was a boy, and we named him Ernest Ray,” Loretta said.

Loretta had four kids before turning 20. Because of the family’s precarious financial circumstances, she hardly ever left the house as a stay-at-home mother.But her husband enjoyed drinking beer and going out with his buddies.

Sadly, he met other ladies while going against Loretta’s wishes. Despite his repeated infidelity, Loretta stayed completely dedicated to her husband, which was something that not all women in her situation would have done.

”I married Doo when I wasn’t but a child, and he was my life from that day on,” Lynn later wrote in her 2002 memoir Still Woman Enough.

“But as important as my youth and upbringing was, there’s something else that made me stick to Doo. He thought I was something special, more special than anyone else in the world, and never let me forget it. That belief would be hard to shove out the door. Doo was my security, my safety net.

“Doo was a good man and a hard worker. But he was an alcoholic, and it affected our marriage all the way through.”

Loretta’s tumultuous marriage’s early years of joy and sorrow would later serve as inspiration for her songwriting, so at least some good came from it.

Despite experiencing repeated heartbreak, violence, and rejection, Loretta never gave up. In fact, she said she never composed a song without mentioning her husband in the lyrics. She kept track of his affairs through her music, even going so far as to attack another lady who was meddling with their marriage.

According to Loretta herself: “If you can’t fight for your man, he’s not worth having.” When asked why she didn’t leave Doo, Loretta once gave a clear answer: “I put up with it because of six kids.”

The diva of country music remained wed to Doolittle until his passing in 1996 at the age of 69. Her children believed she would never get over the loss because it was so difficult for her to handle.

“Three days after my husband died, I left Hurricane Mills and come to Nashville,” she mentioned.

“After bein’ here awhile, I said to a friend of mine, ‘It seems like I been here a couple months already.’ And she said, ‘You been here a year.’”

Fortunately, Loretta was able to put things back together and concentrated on looking after and helping her family, including her children and three grandchildren, while continuing to make music. Unfortunately, not all of Loretta’s kids are still around.

Her oldest child, Betty Sue Lynn, was born in 1948. She was her mother’s right hand and worked closely with Loretta during her music career. Betty actually wrote a couple of songs for her mom, including “Wine, Women and Song.” Unfortunately, Betty passed away in 2013 from complications to do with emphysema. She was 64.

Jack Benny Lynn, Loretta’s first child, was born in 1949. However, Jack didn’t pursue a career in the music industry like his mother and siblings did.

Instead, he lived his life training horses and becoming a successful blacksmith. However, a tragic conclusion to his life was inevitable. Jack perished while attempting to ride his horse across a river on the family’s property one day in 1984. At the time, he was 54 years old, married, and had three children.

Instead, he lived his life training horses and becoming a successful blacksmith. However, a tragic conclusion to his life was inevitable. Jack perished while attempting to ride his horse across a river on the family’s property one day in 1984. At the time, he was 54 years old, married, and had three children.

“She took it much better than we expected,” said her manager of 12 years, David Skepner. “Loretta’s going to be all right.”

Of course, Loretta was deeply affected by Jack’s untimely passing because no parent should have to bury their child. On the anniversary of his loss in 2021, Loretta paid her beloved son a sorrowful tribute:

“He was a spitting image of his daddy. He was my blond-headed, blue-eyed baby. Just what I asked for. He was quiet and tender. I adored him with all my heart. He and Betty Sue got into everything when they were little and I was a new momma,” she wrote on Facebook.

Loretta’s third child, Clara “Cissie” Marie Lynn, was born in 1952. She also worked for her mother as a producer.

Meanwhile, Ernest Ray Lynn, who was born in 1954, also followed in his mother’s footsteps and developed a career as a performer in the entertainment industry. Peggy and Patsy were born as twins in 1964 to Loretta.

They collaborated on music, and their group, known as “The Lynns,” achieved success in 1997 with the song “Woman to Woman.”

Peggy and Patsy also tried their hand at acting, and they even managed to land a part in the “Walker Texas Ranger” series, where they appeared as themselves and shared the lead role with Chuck Norris.

Loretta Lynn went through a lot in her life, and her family has now expanded with grandchildren. During the holidays, Loretta was always reminded of what she lost – but also what she still had.

”I can’t tell you how much I wish Doo, Jack, and Betty were with us today. My heart’s never gotten over losing those three. Yet, I’m so grateful for the four I still have…,” she said last year.

Loretta Lynn’s death, on October 4, 2022, undoubtedly left a big hole in the hearts of a lot of country music fans. Rest in Peace Loretta!

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