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

Hicks, Lucy L. [Tobias Lawson]

(born: 1886  -  died: 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, California. 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 the doctor. During Hicks' examination, it was discovered that Hicks was a biological male. Hicks had married twice, the second time in 1945, and was therefore charged with perjury, then jailed, tried, sentenced to prison, and 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, and died in Los Angeles. Hicks was the child of Bill (b.1849 in KY) and Nancy Lawson (b.1851 in KY), and 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. For a more complete history of Hicks' life see the Lucy Hicks Anderson entry at the website; see "Sin & Souffle," Time, 11/05/1945, p. 24 [available online]; and Oxnard, 1941-2004, by J. W. Maulhardt [pictures of Lucy Hicks on p. 89].

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Shelby County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Waddy, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

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

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Hicks, Lucy L. [Tobias Lawson],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 14, 2021,

Last modified: 2020-06-23 20:11:00