Palmer C. Ricketts was born in Elkton, MD on Jan. 17, 1856 and later moved to New Jersey. He prepared under a private tutor at Princeton, NJ and entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1871 at the age of fifteen. Ricketts was an average student. One of his few activities was the 1874 Transit (yearbook) editorial board. His graduating thesis was titled, Review of the Substructure of the Wrought Iron Girder Bridge over the Hudson River at Troy. After commencement in 1875, Ricketts stayed in Troy and filled the position of Assistant in Mathematics & Astronomy at RPI.