History of the County of Perth, 1825-1902
William Johnston, 1903
Mr John Hicks, in early days an influential and well-known man in Perth County, was born in Cornwall, England. When quite young his father removed his family to Canada, settling at what is now Holmesville, near Goderich. Mr William Hicks, the father, was a person of some means, and may be called the founder of Mitchell. As early as 1837 the first Hicks house was erected by him. In all that section of country west of Seebach's scarcely a settler had located, and Mr Hicks' hotel was far more in danger of being boycotted by wolves than filled with guests at that period. Mr John Hicks, who afterwards became prominent and played an important part in public affairs, was first landlord in this new hostelry.
He was a worthy old pioneer, and exerted a great influence in opening up this section of the Huron Tract. As an index of his character, in 1843 a Methodist minister was endeavoring to reach a new settlement in Fullarton to hold services with those few how had penetrated so far into the forest. Mr Hicks directed him to follow the blaze on the trees as being the only hope of his keeping the way. Next evening at dusk the landlord saw [the] stranger emerging from the woods apparently in a rather sorrowful plight. There were no bridges in those days, and the poor preacher, in trying to cross a stream over a fallen tree, became an unwilling participant in baptism by immersion in good cold water from the Logan swamp. Mr Hicks performed the part of a Good Samaritan by supplying such requisites as were needful for his guest's comfort. Next morning he was asked his charge. "How much do you get for your work?" said Mr Hicks. "Little or nothing," replied the preacher; "my Master will reward me at His own proper time; He never forgets." "All right," responded the landlord, "I'll take your Master for my pay; your bill is settled. Good-bye. Call again."
During the rebellion in 1837 he volunteered in support of the Government, and was employed in several departments of the service. Until his death, in 1872, he was still connected with that body, having attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He was one of the first magistrates in Perth County; first district councillor from Logan, and a member of the township council. Mr Hicks' municipal life was interesting and important, and my readers are referred to the historical sketches of Logan and Mitchell elsewhere in this work [History of the County of Perth to 1902] for further details regarding this very prominent man.
Meg Fuller Perth County Coordinator
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