Tarrant County, TXGenWeb

The Hicks Legacy
(Published Nov. 2002, NW Times-Record)

Contributed by Kenneth Klein
Staff Writer, NW Times-Record


Quite a legacy. Anyone who lives in this area - young or old - has heard of the name Hicks, whether it be Hicks Airfield or Hicks Ranch; or by street names - Hicks Avondale School Road, Dido-Hicks Road or Hicks Rd. What most people don't know is who is behind the name and why. Let's explore the past and find out the answer to this mystery...

Charles Edward Hicks was born at Avondale, PA on Aug. 1st, 1857 and reared and educated as a Quaker in Philadelphia. He came to Texas at the age of 19 and through his ability to work with animals, quickly became recognized as an expert, particularly with mules and horses. His travels in north central Texas led him to the community of Dido (later to become Saginaw). Dido left a lasting impression on him, for they had "never met a stranger". He also knew the Hudson family, who had 160 acres of land deeded to them from a Texas Land Grant.

A smaller community of people settled nearer the train tracks, and this town was named Avondale. (author's note: although the Fort Worth & Denver City Railway lay claim to it's naming, the book Dido 1840-1972 contends that it was named after Hicks' hometown, a common practice among settlers in this region). It had a post office from 1890 to 1921.

Hicks left Texas for a while, moving to Kansas City, Mo. where he met the love of his life, Mary Willie Robinson. Ms. Robinson was born in Miami, Mo. daughter of Reverend Henry and Mary Robinson. She graduated from Christian University and the University of Missouri. They were married in Kansas City, but soon moved to Little Rock, Ark. to try cotton planting and farming. He did this for a few years, until something changed his life forever....

England was involved in the Boer War in 1899 and were in desperate need of horses and mules for use in South Africa. Mr. Hicks saw and seized onto the opportunity of a lifetime. Returning to Texas, he purchased the acreage from Jerome "Jude" Hudson in 1900, while negotiating with the British government to furnish them with all the horses and mules that they could handle.

The Hicks Ranch was an excellent location; big and flat, it had a commanding view of the livestock and located near the new railroad (which still remains there today). But now the logistics of managing the ranch and the livestock posed a problem. To help with the housekeeping, Mrs. Hicks' mother, Mary Richardson and her mother, Janie Robinson moved permanently onto the ranch. To manage the large number of livestock, Mr. Hicks became owner of the Fort Worth Horse and Mule Co. in the Fort Worth Stock Yards, and was considered for a long time to be the largest operator in the yards. The reason for his success can be best quoted by O.W. Matthews, secretary of the Fort Worth Stock Yards Co: "Mr. Hicks sold to the British government more horses and mules than ever were delivered to any government up to that time. His success was due to his absolute square dealings with the government and his spirit of fairness with his dealers. As a judge of animals, he has never been equaled".

The Boer War ended in 1902, and Mr. Hicks deposed of his large interests in 1909 and retired to his ranch house. But all was not "quiet on the western front"; in 1917, the United States entered World War 1. In the same year, the Fort Worth & Denver Railway built a depot adjoining his property and called it Hicks Station in his honor. The depot was to accommodate the building of one of three flying fields to be created under a joint agreement between the Canadian Royal Flying Corps and the United States Signal Corps, Aviation Section. This airfield was called Taliaferro Field by the Canadians, but later renamed to Hicks Airfield, and was located where the Hicks Industrial Park now stands. (Watch for "The History of Hicks Airfield" in a later edition of the Times-Record).

A small community of about 50 people developed shortly after the construction and came to be known as Hicks, Texas.

Sadly, Mr. Hicks died at his ranch house On Feb. 18, 1918. But Mary, a strong frontier woman, carried on the tradition of running the ranch, raising cattle. She would even ride shotgun along the fence in the cold of winter. She would conduct business; selling a portion of the ranch as part of the site for Eagle Mountain Lake. But yet she would find some time in between all her duties to pay respects to her late husband, who was buried at the Dido Cemetery. Riding sidesaddle past the Dido School, she would leave a pail of water at his grave to quench his thirst. On July 9th, 1933 she was laid down to rest beside her husband.

But the Hicks Ranch lives on, even if by another name. In 1933, the Bonds Ranch was founded by P.R. "Bob" Bonds. The Bonds Ranch follows the same traditions of quality that were sought by Charles Hicks to this day.

Books: Dido: 1840-1972: One Hundred ThirtyTwo Years of Community Development; Dido Cemetery Association
Fort Worth, Outpost on the Trinity, Oliver Knight, p.184
Newspapers: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 2-18-1918, "Pioneer Operator In Fort Worth Stock Yards Dies at Hicks"
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 7-9-1933, "Mrs. Hicks Dies at Ranch House"
Friends Journal, Vol.24, No.1, Spring Edition, pgs. 18-24
Interviews: Shirley Hill, Dido Cemetery Association
Internet: Bob Jessup, descendent (great-great grandson)
Photos: Fort Worth Star-Telegram 2-18-1918


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