Loretta Lynn became a mom at 16 – felt ‘sorry’ for her twins and lost 2 of her 6 kids unexpectedly

Country legend Loretta Lynn was a household name because of her powerhouse vocals. ”

”Coal Miner’s Daughter” was such an amazing personality; a true story of rags to riches. But she stayed humble throughout.

Loretta’s life wasn’t easy, especially with her losing her two oldest children during her lifetime. Here’s a look into her life – including her last moments as a loving mother...

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Loretta Lynn was born on April 14, 1932, to a coal miner, a fact she is immensely proud of. When she was just 15 years old, she got married and soon after, at the tender age of 16 years old, welcomed her first child.

In October 2022, she passed away at the age of 90 years old. According to her family’s statement, she passed away peacefully in her sleep in her home at Hurricane Mills. Before she passed, she requested to be buried next to her husband Oliver.

Let’s take a look back at Loretta’s life. The coal miner’s daughter came a long way from her humble roots. In 1948, at the age of 15 years old, she married Oliver “Doolittle” Vanetta.

The two of them had only known one another for a month before tying the knot but their union was incredibly successful and lasted a lifetime. They welcomed their first child soon after, their eldest daughter Betty.

In the next few years, when she was only 20 years old, the country singer and her husband who later became her talent manager were already raising four children; Betty, Jack, Cissie, and Ernest.

The couple lived paycheck to paycheck, with Lynn staying at home taking care of the family while Vanetta worked.

One day, as Lynn was doing house chores and singing while doing her tasks, Vanetta heard her and was impressed. He bought his wife a guitar in order to encourage her talent further. Lynn taught herself to play the guitar and join The Trailblazers in the late 1950s.

In the next decade, they performed in a televised contest in Tacoma, Washington. Lynn’s performance had everyone floored. The co-founder of Zero Records Norm Burley, who was present as well immediately offered Lynn a contract.

When she had embarked on a massively successful career as a country artist, Loretta welcomed her twin daughters, Peggy and Patsy. She once commented that she often felt bad for her twin daughters, born at the peak of her career.

“I don’t worry about the older kids. They remember what it was like when we were poor. But the twins have always had everything they ever wanted,” she said.

She had a big family with six children but things took a heartbreaking turn for Lynn, something she never expected.

Lynn’s oldest child, her daughter Betty was born in Washington in 1948. When Lynn was pregnant with her, she was sure she was having a boy and already had a name picked out for the occasion; Jack!

But when the couple found out that their first child was a girl, Lynn was quite upset assuming that her husband would be displeased. But it was quite contrary to that; he was happy at becoming a father to a girl.

This helped Lynn calm down and she became a doting mother to her first child, her daughter Betty. The two of them became incredibly close and shared a strong bond. The bond they shared was so strong that Lynn would have dreams that would clue her in on her daughter’s health and happiness.

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Betty followed in her mother’s footsteps; she was a teenage bride. She married Paul Markworth, and the couple welcomed two daughters, Loretta and Audrey.

Betty wasn’t just her mother’s friend but also contributed to her county music career. Under her alias Tracey Lee, she helped write her mother’s songs, namely “Love’s Not Where Love Should Be” and “Ain’t It Funny.”

On July 29, 2013, Betty tragically passed away at the age of 64 years old. It wasn’t until 2021 that Lynn finally talked about the tragic death of her daughter. She said, “We were big friends […] She made me a mom first. Sometimes it seemed like we were raising each other as young as I was! I fell in love with her the moment I first saw her.”

Her second child was her son Jack, who was born in December 1949. After graduating high school, he joined the army and married his sweetheart Pat.

During their union, the couple had two children, Lora and Jeffery. After he left the army, he worked as a blacksmith and also trained horses on the family ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.


However, on July 24, 1984, tragedy struck the family for the first time. Jack was trying to cross Duck River on his horse. During the crossing, he fell from his horse and hit his head, which caused him to drown. Lynn found out about the death the next day.

In 2021, she posted a remembrance post for her late son, she wrote, “I’ve thought of him and missed him every day for 37 years. He was a spitting image of his daddy. He was my blond-headed, blue-eyed baby. Just what I asked for.”

She talked about how Jack and Betty had been incredibly close since both of them were the eldest. She noted that her children were not reunited in heaven; a fact which undoubtedly brought her peace.

After she gave birth to her second child Jack, Lynn experienced two miscarriages. However, she finally fell pregnant with her third child; her son Ernest.

The birth of her son was a little challenging for her. Lynn had been in labor for a long time, and finally, doctors concluded that a C-section was necessary. However, she was still a minor at the time, so the hospital needed her husband to sign the consent forms.

However, he was away for a logging job in Washington and was unavailable to sign.

But somehow, she was able to finally give birth to her “sweet” son Ernest. Later on in life, Ernest showed his wild side; he would often get into car accidents.

In 2003, it all caught up with him finally when he was charged and arrested for a DUI and vehicular homicide. He had been driving and hit a post, his passenger Larry Claxton, passed away as a result of the crash. Ernest pleaded not guilty to the homicide charge.

Ernest is now a singer and even opened for his mother in a few of her shows. In August 2020, Ernest and his wife decided to renew their vows. Lynn was present for the ceremony and even posted to Instagram about it. In the post she wrote, “Marriage isn’t always easy–heck, it’s not even always pretty, but love holds you together and you push through the bad days to enjoy the good ones.”


In April 1952, Lynn gave birth to her fourth child, her daughter Clara Marie. She is better known ‘Cissie,’ because that was what she was called for the first four years of her life, as her father refused to name her before then.

Cissie is also a singer-songwriter married to singer John Beams, who also happens to be a musician. Together the couple has opened for several famous acts including, Conway Twitty and George Jones.

In 2011, Lynn took on the role of a producer for her album which was basically covers of her songs and featured her daughter Cissie’s vocals. Lynn said of the album, “My children and my grandchildren will listen to this album and say that their Mama and their Grandma did this all.”


After her fourth child, she decided she would not have any more children. But in 1963, the singer found out she was pregnant again. The news shocked and scared her because she was at the peak of her country music career and was afraid the pregnancy would hamper her stardom.

Her twin daughters, Patsy and Peggy were born in 1964 and Lynn realized soon that their addition to the family was a blessing. She realized that having money made motherhood a lot easier for her.

The twins also followed in their mother’s footsteps and became entertainers. They admitted that since they had been born when their mother was already a popular singer, it was not a question of whether they would become singers but more about when they would do it. But the girls had different interests when it came to the limelight.

Patsy once said in an interview, “Peggy’s love is performing, creating, writing stories … Those things weren’t my cup of tea, so doing that was hard for me. My love is the studio.”

While Patsy herself was more involved in recording music and negotiating deals in publishing. But since their interests were so well matched with one another, their relationship worked perfectly.

Patsy is also a talented producer and has produced over 100 songs for her mother Loretta Lynn, knowing what an icon her mother is.

Peggy Lynn performs in support of Loretta Lynn at ACL Live on October 18, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage)

Loretta Lynn’s last moments

When Loretta Lynn passed away on October 4, 2022, the country icon was surrounded by her loving family. Just one day prior to her death, her daughter Peggy Lynn shared the conversation she’d had with her mother before she left for heaven.

”Today I kissed my precious mom goodbye. She looked so peaceful like a sleeping angel,” she wrote on Instagram, adding:

”She is beautiful even in death … (ellipsis are hers) she just has this amazing radiance that is so unique and timeless. I could barely tear my arms from around her. I didn’t want her to leave us. I felt possessive and selfish and broken … utterly broken.”

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Peggy Lynn was her mother’s primary caretaker since 2017, and according to her, Loretta felt ready to go to heaven. She knew that Doo (her husband Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn) was coming to take her home.

”They told me I’m really going home,'” Peggy Lynn said, quoting or paraphrasing her mother. ”She really said that yesterday … She knew … She just knew and was happy.”

The family has seen some tough times but what is evident is how they stick to one another. It is truly inspirational to see them always sticking together even in times of grief.

As the remaining four of Loretta Lynn’s children process her loss, we wish them well and sympathize with them.