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GEORGE W. FICKS

With every passing year the ranks of the Grand Army of the Republic grow thinner and the diminishing corps of the survivors walk with less of the military erectness characteristic of their younger days. Prominent among the veterans of the Union army now living in Sacramento we mention the name of George W. Ficks, who is affectionately and familiarly known by the title of colonel, although no epaulets adorned his uniform as he fought with desperate earnestness during the long and sanguinary encounters with the Army of the Potomac, nor did a grateful country reward his services with other than the honorable mention given to thousands of lads who, like him- self, left home and friends in order to volunteer in the defense of the Union. The war has long since become only a memory, but as long as gratitude exists in the hearts of patriots, so long will the names of the loyal defenders of the Union be cherished with peculiar tenderness in the annals of our history.

Born in Pittsburg, Allegheny county, Pa., November 7, 1846, and reared in Armstrong and Westmoreland counties, in the same state. Colonel Ficks lived the life of strenuous activity usual to farmers' sons, and hence had but few educational opportunities. When scarcely eighteen years of age he enlisted, in September, 1864, as a private in Company K, Fifteenth Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry, and was assigned to the Ninth Army corps. Army of the Potomac. His most memorable engagement was the siege and capture of Petersburg, and he also had many thrilling experiences while serving on detached duty, finally participating in the Grand Review at Washington. After peace had been declared he was honorably discharged during the summer of 1865, and then returned to Pennsylvania, where he attended school at Leechburg during the ensuing winter. With the close of that term his schooling came to an end and he again took up the battle of life. Work in a lumber mill at Newcastle was secured ; later he was employed in a livery stable; in fact, he eagerly grasped any chance to earn an honest livelihood.

Meanwhile many reports concerning prospects in California had reached the ears of the young ex-soldier, who finally determined to seek a livelihood in the west. February 9, 1868, he left Newcastle, Pa., for New York City, and there he boarded a ship bound for the Isthmus of Panama. From that point he sailed by steamer to San Francisco, and after a few days in the western metropolis he proceeded to Sacramento. Next he went to the timber regions of Butte county and worked in the lumber mills during the summer, thence going to Rock- lin. Placer county, where he was employed in a stone quarry during one winter. A later employment of five months as a brakeman on the Southern Pacific railroad was followed by a visit of about three months at his old Pennsylvania home, from which he returned to the employ of the railroad company, continuing thus engaged for eighteen months. Afterward he secured a clerkship in the dry goods store of E. Lyon & Co., Sacramento, and for thirteen years he remained in the same position, resigning in order to become a reporter with the Sacramento Record-Union under the management of W. H. Mills. For seven years he continued with the daily paper, and then served for four years as United States storekeeper in the Fourth district during the administration of President Benjamin Harrison. Subsequently he held a position under Mayor Steinman of Sacramento, which was followed by, the lease of the Clunie opera house, which he managed for three seasons. For six years, or until New Year's of 1911, he held a position in the office of Hon. Charles F. Curry, secretary of state. At this writing he is the manager of the distributing agency for the “Tragedy of Andersonville” which was written and published by Gen. N. P. Chipman, presiding judge of the appellate court.

The marriage of Colonel Ficks took place in Sacramento November 10, 1872, uniting him with Miss Inez Huff, who was born and reared in Placerville, this state, and who passed away February 22, 1908, leaving two daughters. Two sons, Miles Grant and Frank, had died in childhood. The elder daughter, Edna Inez, is the widow of John D. Bauman, an importer of New York City, who lost his life in the sinking of the Titanic April 15, 1912. The younger daughter, Blanche, is the wife of George F. Roberts, and lives in Bisbee, Ariz. During the long period of his residence in Sacramento Colonel Ficks has witnessed the development of the city and his portion of the state. He has filled many positions of trust and time and again has proved the worth of his citizenship to the higher development of the locality. The Republican party has numbered him among its leading local workers, frequently he has represented its interests by service as a delegate to county and state conventions and he is now a member of the county Roosevelt Republican committee. A man of tried worth and integrity, he has proved loyal to his country not alone on the field of battle during the thrilling era of the Civil war, but also in the quiet round of citizenship during times of peace, and with justice he is regarded as one of the useful, patriotic men of his home city. On May 31, 1913, Colonel Ficks was appointed by Governor Hiram W. Johnson, commissioner to represent the state of California at the national celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, Pa. 


Source:
History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011