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Joe and Lela Hickman Photo

Lela and J. J. Hickman

Rose Spray
Birth Date: Feb. 26, 1887      Birth Date: Mar. 28, 1864
Death Date: June 6, 1963      Death Date: June 28, 1961


Joseph J. Hickman, second child of William Trammel and Susan (Chance) Hickman, of Springport, Indiana, was born March 28, 1865. At the age of 19, Joe purchased a section of land from an uncle of his, Jacob Van Hickman, who was a land agent. This land was located 2 1/2 miles southeast of the present day McAdoo. Joe paid for his land with the proceeds from a potato crop from 20 acres of land near Springport, Indiana. However, it was not until 1891 that Joe came West to look over his Texas investment. He came as far as Seymour on the train, then to Benjamin by Stage. There he hired a two wheeled cart and horse and struck out across country, following the trails to the old Browning Ranch, west of Dickens, now known as the Goen Ranch. For a tenderfoot, this was quite an experience. He stopped the first night at the Old King Ranch headquarters where there was no one to greet him except a huge dog. Joe was always a lover of animals and managed to make friends with the dog. He looked around to see if there was anything he could do to make himself useful, he spied an ax and a woodpile with pieces of stove wood lying on the ground. Having been reared in a country where wood chopping was a daily chore, Joe went to work with "authority" and chopped up quite a supply of stove wood. About this time the cook and cowboys rode up. They couldn´t figure out how Joe had got past the dog without being torn to shreds, for the dog was known far and wide for his ferocity. Joe was young, strong and healthy, and apparently a good worker. When he told them where he was headed, the boss at the ranch tried to dissuade him and asked him to remain there. But this was not his plan, so after two days on the ranch, he drove on to the headquarters of the next big ranch, which is now the Pitchfork. The next day, he reached his destination, the Browning Ranch. As soon as it was convenient to Mr. Kurlin, the ranch foreman, he and Joe rode up the caprock onto the plans to locate the section of land Joe had bought seven years before.

His description of this prairie land to his mother is as follows:

After looking his section over carefully and being fully satisfied with it, he returned to his Indiana home. He made several expeditions back to various parts of Texas later, but did not come to live here until 1911.

On December 15, 1908, Joseph J. Hickman and Lela May Powell youngest child of Enos C. and Anetta (Alverson) Powell, of Wabash, Indiana, were wed in holy matrimony.

It was to Dickens that Joe brought his young bride for their honeymoon. According to Lela´a diary of their trip, "We left Muncle, Indiana, on the big 4 about 11:00. Got into St. Louis Monday night about 2:00. Took the Frisco Pullman and slept all night. Rolled out a moment at Minnett, MO, where we breakfasted. Got into Oklahoma City in the Evening, Left Oklahoma City Wednesday December 23, 1908 for Quanah, TX. Arrived at Quanah about 9:00 Thursday, December 24, left there on a train for Childress, arrived in Childress about 8:00. Got on the mail hack and drove over 64 miles of some rough country and some very beautiful country. Crossed North Pease River, Pease River, Doughout Creek. Got caught in a Norther and arrived in Matador Christmas Eve, about 9:00. I began to think home was a pretty nice place. We ran 10 mules down on our trip. At 5:00 a.m. December 25, we started for Dickens, cold as whiz, changed teams twice, got into Dickens about noon, I thought ´It´s the Dickens alright´".

Lela´a attitude towards Dickens changed as she met the people of the town and found how friendly they were. Lela and Joe stayed for two or three days in the hotel, then rented a small house where they lived until the spring of 1909. On February 22, 1909, Joe and Lela started back to Indiana to make ready for their return to Texas in 1911.

Lela says of their return trip to Indiana. "We started for home, John Martin took us to Rotan. We started about 6:00 a.m. camped out all night, finishing our wagon drive over rough country. Crossing the Devil´s backbone, which was quite steep, we were caught in a sand storm. Spent most of the day, February 24, at Fort Worth, left for Memphis. Rode through Arkansas and Tennessee. Arrived the 26th day Feb. 1909 in Cincinnati. Home at 2:30 p.m."

Susan Annetta, the first child of Joseph and Lela Hickman was born September 16, 1909, in Springport, Indiana.

In 1911, the Hickmans moved to their section of land southeast of McAdoo. While their house was being completed, they lived in a three room shack at the north end of their place. This first year was one to test the mettle of anyone. Lela proved to be the best. She also proved to be an excellent nurse. Joe had bought a new horse and did not know much about him. He had seen him working to a plow in a three horse team and liked his looks. In late March or early April of 1911, Joe and Charley Conner (a young man who had come to Texas with them) hitched the new horse and another one to the wagon and went for wood. At noon, Hickman locked the wagon,dropped the inside traces and put their feed on the ground. He took the bridle off the older horse and hung it on the hames and stepped past the tongue and took the bridle off the new horse. The instant he did this, the horse threw up his head and lunged forward, pushing Joe backward. He did not fall at first, but tried to quiet the horse. The horse kept plunging forward, and the other horse became freighted too. Joe could not escape. One horse stepped in his face, caving in his cheek bone and eye socket. Both the front and hind wheels of the wagon ran over him. The rear wheels which were sliding caught him in the left flank and rolled him over crushing bones as it did so. He lay on his bare back from noon until 5:00 that evening. He sent the boy, Charley to the house they had seen earlier down in the breaks, for help, and to send someone to telephone for a doctor. Charley found two boys at the house. One went to the nearest telephone and called a doctor at Dickens, and the other boy came back with a pillow and a quilt. These were greatly appreciated, since the worst norther of the year was blowing.

During this entire ordeal, Joe did not lose consciousness, but directed his rescue. Mr. Huckaby went for help first to Mr. Taylor´s to get March Taylor to take a quiet team to Mr. Elsby´s for a big spring wagon. they came back by the Hickman´s home where they picked up a spring cot for a stretcher. When at five o´clock they finally arrived at the scene of the accident (the east edge of the plains) they decided not to wait there for the Doctor, which was the original plan, but took Joe to his home. Dr. B.F. Hale, of Dickens, was waiting there for them when they arrived. The Doctor bound him up and stayed the night. From then on it was a slow recovery, but recover he did, and even in his 40´s Mr. Hickman could "put many a younger man in the shade" when it came to doing a good days work.

The following months were exceptionally hard on Lela, who in July gave birth to their second daughter. This child, Fay, lived only two days, born July 7, 1911 and died July 9, 1911 (Buried in Dickens Cemetery). Lela´s ability to care for the sick caused her to be in constant demand in the surrounding neighborhood. For years she was called upon, and went cheerfully and willingly to help when there was illness or a newborn baby.

The Hickman´s moved into their new home in 1912, and lived there the rest of their lives.

Two more children were born to this household, Rosemary, born June 6, 1913 and Lewis Eugene, born May 18, 1915.

For several years, the school teacher, Grace Ham and later Laura Montieth boarded with the Hickmans. The school was known as Prairie View. Mr. Hickman served as Trustee of this school.

Friends and strangers alike were always welcome in the Hickman home. Dr. B.F. Hale made their home his stopping place any time he had patients on the plains. Joe and Lela were always interested in the advancement of their community, county and state. They served the community well during their lifetime.

Mr. Hickman contracted to build and maintain roads in Precinct No. 1, in 1917 and 1918. For several years after that, Mr. Hickman maintained the roads in that precinct.

"Uncle Joe" as he became affectionately known by his many friends served his turn on the Courts of Dickens County as Jury man.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Hickman were active in community work until quite late in life. Joe gradually lost his eyesight, but he remained interested in world and community affairs right to the end. During his 80´s he made a broom machine almost entirely by feel. He occupied his time for several years making brooms. When his health grew worse, he gave up the broom machine and made whisk brooms and fly swatters as he called them, by hand. These he gave to his many friends who called upon him.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Hickman had undying faith in God and when things were blackest, they both found comfort in their Lord.

Mr. Hickman passed away June 29, 1961, and Mrs. Hickman passed on, on June 6, 1965. Both were loved and respected by those who knew them. It was said of Mr. Hickman that his word was as good as a bond and that to know him was to be a richer person. One of the greatest tributes one person could pay another was said of Mrs. Hickman by a friend: "Mrs. Hickman was beyond a doubt the most unselfish person I have ever known."

Source: History of Dickens County; Ranches and Rolling Plains, Fred Arrington, ©1971

Others Researching This Family

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Headstone Photograph, Inscription & Sentiments

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Hickman Family: Back Row: Susan, Lewis, Rosemary; Front Row: J.J. and Lela
50th Wedding Anniversary


Joseph J. Hickman, the grand old man of McAdoo, died at 4 p.m. Wednesday in his farm home. The 97 year old early settler had been in failing health for some time. Funeral services are scheduled at 2 p.m. Friday in the McAdoo Baptist Church, with the Rev. L. M. Handley, San Angelo Primitive Baptist minister, officiating, assisted by Rev. C. W. Pete, McAdoo. Burial will be in Crosbyton Cemetery under direction of King Funeral Home.

Hickman was the first man to buy land in Dickens County -- way back in 1883. He did not settle in Dickens county until 1911, however, where he was lived since.

"Uncle Joe" Hickman was born March 28, 1864, on a farm near Newcastle, Indiana. That was shortly before Lincoln´s assasination and the Hickmans, being Democrats, were often threatened by local Republicans.

A number of ingredients went into Hickman´s purchase of the bald, uninhabited prairie land in what has since become Dickens County.

"Dad was a great hand to raise potatoes." Hickman liked to recall. In order to keep young Joe working on the farm, a real estate dealer uncle sold him the Texas land on condition he would pay the taxes.

Young Joe got section seven of alternate sections in a survey by Adams, Beatty and Moulton. He paid $1 per acre.

When he first visited the spot in 1891. Hickman could see only two windmills from his land in his own words, this area "was just a big nothing."

Hickman next visited the spot in 1908 while honeymooning with his second wife -- the first Mrs. Hickman died. They returned to settle and rear family in 1911.

The pioneer settler´s eyesight began failing 20 years ago until he was practically blind at time of death. To pass time, he listened to his wife read, chatted with neighbors, or made whisk brooms which he gave to visitors.

Hickman traced his family back to the American Revolution when Captain Ezekial Hickman commanded a troop of horses for George Washington.

Survivors include his wife, a son, Lewis, McAdoo, two daughters, Mrs. Susan Clark, Plainview, and Mrs. Cecil Patrick, of Portales, NM; six grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Crosbyton Review, June 29, 1961

Funeral services for Mrs. Lela May Hickman, 76, McAdoo, were held at 3 p.m. Sunday at McAdoo First Baptist Church with Elder L. M. Handley, Crosbyton, officiating. He was assisted by Rev. James Pope, McAdoo pastor.

Mrs. Hickman died Thursday at the home of a daughter near Plainview. Burial was in Crosbyton cemetery under direction of King Funeral Home.

Mrs. Hickman accompanied her husband, J. J. Hickman, to the McAdoo area in 1911 where Hickman had owned land since 1883. He preceded his wife in death in June of 1961 at the age of 97. Mrs. Hickman continued to live in McAdoo until three months ago, when she went to live with a daughter, Mrs. W. M. Clark, near Plainview. She was a native of Madison, Wisc.

Survivors are a son, Lewis, McAdoo; two daughters, Mrs. Clark, Plainview, and Mrs. C. H. Patrick, Portales, NM; six grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Crosbyton Review, June 13, 1963

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