From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Hicks, Lucy L. [Tobias Lawson]

(born: September 5, 1886  -  died: September 23, 1954) 

Lucy Hicks said she was from Kentucky when she arrived in California around 1915. The six-foot-tall cook was also a madam; for 30 years she ran the only house of prostitution in Oxnard, CA. She was also a philanthropist, giving generously to charity organizations such as the Boy Scouts and the Red Cross as well as purchasing war bonds.

As World War II was coming to an end in August 1945, an outbreak of venereal disease was said to have come from Hicks' establishment; Lucy and all of her employees had to be examined by a doctor. During Hicks' examination, it was discovered that Hicks was a biological male. Lucy insisted that she was a woman.

Lucy Hicks had married twice. Her first husband was Clarence Hicks. Her second marriage was to Reuben Anderson in 1945. She was charged with perjury for signing the marriage license. She was jailed, tried, and sentenced to prison, but the judge gave her 10 years of probation rather than send her to prison. Lucy had received Army spouse allotment checks from her 2nd husband; she and her husband were charged with fraud by the federal government, and she and Anderson were found guilty and sentenced to prison. After serving her prison sentence, Lucy returned home and was soon kicked out of the city of Oxnard.

Lucy Hicks' story was first published in a Pacific Coast newspaper, then updated and published in Time--after which Lucy Hicks was voted Time's Man of the Year. After the story ran, Hicks was wanted by the U.S. Army as a draft dodger.

Lucy Hicks was born Tobias Lawson in Waddy, KY in 1886,  the child of Bill (b. 1849 in KY) and Nancy Lawson (b. 1851 in KY). According to the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, the Lawsons worked for the George Waddy family. Nancy and Tobias, the youngest child, were still working for the Waddy family when the 1900 Census was taken. Lucy would leave Kentucky, living for a while in Pecos City, TX, where she worked as a chambermaid in a hotel, according to the 1910 U.S. Census. By 1940, she was living in Oxnard. Lucy Hicks Anderson died in Los Angeles, CA in 1954.

For a more complete history of Hicks' life, see the Lucy Hicks Anderson entry at the website; "Sin & Souffle," Time, 11/5/1945, p. 24 [available online]; Oxnard, 1941-2004, by J. W. Maulhardt [pictures of Lucy Hicks on p. 89]; "Lucy Hicks Anderson, Nominee," on the Legacy Project Chicago website; and "Highlight: Lucy Hicks Anderson, a black trans pioneer," on the ACLU - Mississippi website.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Shelby County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Waddy, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Time (periodical)
NKAA Source: Oxnard: 1941-2004

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Hicks, Lucy L. [Tobias Lawson],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 26, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-05-31 16:55:26