Frank Leslie Hickman
by J. Edward Johnson (1890-1976)
I have gone out of my way to feature Leslie (Frank Leslie) Hickman herein for a number of reasons. Foremost of these is the fact that he was my public school teacher at the time of my life when I was beginning to give serious thought to what I was to be in life and what needed doing on my part to attain it. So far as the graduating class of 1906 in Benjamin susceptible, he supplied more inspiration as regards going on educationally than any other person I encountered up to that time. That does not mean I had not had very good teachers in Benjamin. Hannah Jones (Lovelace), Chloe Palmer and France (George Francis) Hickman in respectively the 3rd, 5th and 6th grades were among the best. Also in one of my earliest grades, the 2nd, I had Nora Stewart Hone. But these latter were intent on drilling us in the rudiments and no allusion was made what we were to be in life other than grounded in the prescribed courses. Leslie made not great ado about going on after completing the grades, but as I look back I sense how very important it was what he quietly did in this regard.
He was instrumental in bringing Professor Edwin S. Hinckley from the B.Y.U. to talk to the graduating class one evening in 1906. His talk pepped me up as nothing else had up to that time. He set me on fire. At eighty-two I still feel the thrill of it. No person ever impressed me more with the concept that one can become anything one chooses to be and that the price is chiefly an enduring aim, work and labor, perserverance, and determination, etc., without end. He gave incidents drawn from his experiences at the University of Michigan, of poor individuals who had made great successes of themselves. While there are qualifications to this doctrine as life well brings out, in general it is a sound and correct concept to follow--leaving it to experience and the fortunes, adjustments and unpredictables of life to etch out the qualifications of this idea.
When I graduated from the grades, eager as I was to enter high school, this seemed quite out, due to the family financial situation, there being no high school in the community. Spanish Fork and Payson seemed too far away to walk or ride and boarding too expensive. The following year I marked time, but reflected a great deal as to my future. I got it into my head that I must acquire a man's job and earn enough money to go on to school (a most impractical idea). There were no such jobs in Benjamin.
To get a little spending money of my own for such personal purposes as I did not feel free to ask money for from my parents, I purchased from Dad and Mother fifteen hens and built a chicken coop of willows, scraps of lumber and straw on a vacant area behind the stacks and farm buildings of our home and marketed the eggs for scrip on the sly at the store so that nosey kids should not know about this eccentricity.
I did not know it until long later when my father told me that Leslie had come to him and pressed him to get me into the B.Y.U. I was now sixteen past and giving thought to leaving home and heading for a railroad construction or other project, or the Tintic mines, etc. Dad announced at this point that I was to prepare to enter the B.Y.U. in the autumn. At first I was almost cool to the idea by reason of the strain it would put on the family. However, in the fall of 1907 I entered as a high school student.
I now learned that the start is really the toughest and most difficult part of any undertaking, as the four years went by largely as a matter of course, notwithstanding the periods of temporary indecision and lack of enthusiasm on my part.
After I became a college student upon completing high school, Leslie returned after some considerable number of years to Brigham Young University to complete his higher education. We had at least one class together. I also had some classes with Laura [Hickman, Leslie's sister] to whom I had looked up to for years as a highly accomplished person. Leslie received his bachelor's degree the year before I did. I then lost complete track of him for some years. I learned later he took up teaching in American Fork, where he also worked himself into the real estate business, and thereafter came to Provo where he continued in real estate, did well, and acquired one of the fine homes located on East Center Street. From the real estate business he went into life insurance, which took him to Salt Lake City--and became a big selling salesman and also a supervisor of salesmen. Things went so well for him that he became independent financially and had the good feeling that always goes with this.
After I had graduated from the law school at the University of California in Berkeley, been admitted to the bar, and become engaged in gainful employment in California, legal business took me to Salt Lake on one occasion. In the crowded elevator on the way to the law office of some prominent Salt Lake lawyers I heard from behind me in a soft subdued voice "J. Edward Johnson!" It was Leslie. It was a brief joyful chance meeting of only moments. It was the last time I saw him. He was riding the wave. It was before the reverses of the Depression laid him low and in a great degree broke his spirit.
Another reason for giving Leslie special notice is the inspiration his widowed mother, Lucy Ann, and his brothers Josiah E. and France (George Francis), and sister Laura, and his sister Josephine's (Finlayson) boys had been to me. Nor should his sister Lucy Richardson be omitted, by reason of the high regard I had for several of her children. Charlie, unconventional as he was, was not without gifts and fathered a fine family.
Leslie was married twice; first to Jenny Dixon of the prominent John Dixon family of Payson, by whom he had a son and daughter before she died. This being such an ideal couple, her death was especially tragic. It was when he returned to the B.Y.U. to complete his education that he advanced his cause with Olive Nixon of the fine James W. Nixon family of Huntington leading to their marriage soon after his graduation in 1914, by whom he had five children. Olive was gifted and accomplished in music, one of Leslie's first loves. As a teacher in Benjamin Leslie drilled us a great deal in music but it did not take with me, something I have had occasion to regret many times in after years.
Leslie was a big man, well built, and handsome. His was an engaging pleasant personality. He had not disciplinary problems at all with the students. He had served a mission for the Church in the Southern States before teaching in Benjamin.
While Leslie gravitated to the business world as time went by--undoubtedly for the purpose of acquiring the necessary "wherewithal" to support his family in the style that his Hickman pride (false pride: heh?) called for, and tasted success therein for the first time, despite his keen business sense, this was not in my opinion his forte. His best gifts in my view lay in teaching youngsters. Here he was by his very nature a power for good--that good which is reflected in character by countless people who might have had the good fortune to come under his wholesome buoyant influence. The sad thing is that teachers who next to parents infuence children most must work for hack wages, and by staying in teaching condemn themselves to poverty with all its disadvantages. I have visualized what might have been if Leslie had stayed in the field of education and after leaving the B.Y.U. gone to the universities, got his Ph.D. and gone to make teachers after his order. This might have supplied the necessary means for the needs of a large family and he might have been spared the heartaches and stinging embarrassments of the reverses which were his. It is even conceivable that his good business sense could have been put to favorable use. A number of individuals who have combined educational wisdom and wise investments come to mind as I write this, among which may be mentioned Ellwood P. Cubberley of Stanford, so greatly appreciated in his day as an education man that there are elementary schools throughout the country named after him. Also he acquired a considerable fortune by sale of his educational wisdom distributed in lectures, public and otherwise, and writings.
When I speak of born teachers Josiah E. Hickman and Laura may be included. I never saw anyone who could lay subject matter out and present it understandably and intensely interestingly better than Josiah E. Hickman. What a refreshing relief from dead-pan routine it was to me at least when he returned periodically to Benjamin and spoke in the afternoon Sacrament meetings.
I could go on and on about Leslie. One of the things he drilled us on was grammar. We had to diagram sentences by the thousands through the seventh and eighth grades. After our diagrams were corrected we were required to put them in journals, in pen and ink (what endless labor!). There came a time in my life when this paid off with big interest, compounded. When I prepared to teach in the grades at the B.Y.U. I taught different grades in the Training School for periods of a month or so. One spring period I was assigned to the Seventh Grade. These were over-age 7th graders. I was assigned to teach parsing-dissecting sentences according to all the parts of speech. That is what diagramming was. The students paid no attention to me and were wholly unresponsive and looked out the windows waiting the minute the class would be over when school would be out. The director of the Training School put her head in and left a note in the door box to see her at once before teaching any more. When I presented myself she told me I had ruined the class, and heaped insult on insult and said no one could teach anything they knew nothing about, implying I knew nothing of English grammar and the parts of speech. She told me I could have as much time as I needed to prepare myself--two or three weeks if need be. Then followed silence--while she proceeded (or pretended) to read in a book before her while I just sat there. Presently she looked up with an expression of surprise and asked me how much time I needed. I told her I needed no time at all and was ready to take any examination she might wish to give then and there. She thereupon selected out of her book a compound complex involved sentence and told me to diagram it. I inwardly licked my chops. I remembered Leslie's drilling of us! She could not have hit me where I was stronger. I put the sentence on stilts or racks in a matter of moments. She did pretty well to conceal her surprise, and found only one little jigger to take exception to. This was attempted cover-up. I told her, with all confidence, the greatest gift one can have, that I was right, and told her I was willing to submit the matter to the head of the English Department of the University. Then she said her way and my way were optional and either way is proper.
I am still gloating, and of course Miss Shoemacher's and Leslie's images both come to mind. We sometimes don't know what is best for us at the time!
Olive, now Elgren, is still spry, as pretty as ever, and so proud of all seven of Leslie's sons and daughters. To date, I have met June, her third child, who holds forth in New York City. While not as large physically as his father in personality he reflects both his dad and charming mother.
In closing, I extend my sincere and kindest regards to all of Leslie's children. We have something very precious in common, namely, their Dad.
J. Edward Johnson
July 4, 1972
July 20, 1968
Mr. J. Edward Johnson
1400 Central Tower
703 Market Street
San Francisco, California 94103
For your record, Leslie was born April 7, 1880 at Benjamin, Utah, and died in Salt Lake City, April 20, 1948. He is buried in the Wasatch Cemetery here, off Highland Drive in the southeast part of the city.
As you know Leslie was first married to Jennie Dixon and their children are:
1. Ferrin D. Hickman, Portland Oregon 1 child, 2 grandchildren 2. Florence Hickman (Mrs. Bob Curtis), Provo, Utah 2 children, 4 grandchildren
Leslie's wife died about May, 1910. Leslie Hickman married Olive Nixon, June 5, 1912, and their children are:
1. Leslie Dean Hickman, Eugene, Oregon He married Doris Tyler. They have 2 daughters, 2 sons, 3 grandchildren, Ins. business. 2. Erma (Mrs. Ralph Bird), Fair Oaks, California 2 sons, 2 daughters, 2 grandchildren 3. June R. Hickman, 4235 Morgan Street, Littleneck New York Married Bee Volker. 3 sons, 1 daughter, attending BYU next year. 4. Elaine (Mrs. A. Vard. Maxfield), S.L. City, Utah 10 children--5 boys, 5 girls, Maxfield Candy Company 5. Ruth (Mrs. Wilford Coon), Magna, Utah 2 boys, 1 girl; with Utah Copper Company
Leslie Hickman has fathered a wonderful posterity. All the boys who have reached missionary age have filled fine honorable missions--five grandsons so far, and Dean's son, Leslie, is still laboring in the Ohio mission. All children and grandchildren have inherited Leslie's musical ability. They all have dramatic ability from training under their Aunt Grace Nixon Stewart.
Elaine's oldest son, Neldon Maxvield, sang the lead here in "Promised Valley" last summer, and is now singing lead in the opera "Pink Garter" at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Elaine's second son, Neal, is a member of the Tabernacle Choir and member of a famous quartet making T.V. tapes to be shown on Channel 4 Wednesdays in the near future.
Leslie can be very proud of his children and grandchildren who are fine active members of the Church and communities in which they live.
Salt Lake City, Utah 84105
--John Edward Johnson, [History of Benjamin, Utah],
LDS Church Historical Archives, Ms 2774, Vol. 2.
Frank Leslie Hickman
Frank L. Hickman, of Provo, representing the Inter-Mountain Life Insurance Company of Salt Lake as district manager for southern Utah, was born upon a farm at Benjamin, Utah county, on the 7th of April, 1880, a son of George W. and Lucy Ann (Haws) Hickman. The father was a native of Missouri and a representative of one of the old American families of German extraction, represented, however, in the new world since 1680. He was a highly educated man and following his graduation from a college at Memphis, Tennessee, he attended the Eclectic Medical College at Cincinnati, Ohio, and after his graduation practiced his profession for a time in Missouri. In 1856, lured by the gold fields of the west, he and his two brothers started for California, but on arriving in Utah he became interested in Mormonism and remained in this state, while his brothers continued the journey to California. After a year spent at Salt Lake he removed to Provo, becoming the pioneer physician at that place. He also practiced at different periods in Salem and in Payson and he utilized his professional skill as surgeon in the Black Hawk war, in Sanpete county. Later in life he took up the occupation of farming at Benjamin, where he homesteaded and also bought land. He remained very active in the work of the church and became a high priest. In politics he was a democrat. A broad-minded man, interested in progress for the individual and the community at large and connected with much constructive work, he was loved by all who knew him. His worth as a factor in the pioneer development of Utah was widely recognized. He was born August 13, 1824, and was therefore in the seventieth year of his age when he passed away on the 25th of November, 1893.
Frank L. Hickman was the youngest of nine children who reached adult age in a family of thirteen. He was graduated from the Brigham Young University at Provo, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree. He devoted fourteen years to school teaching, becoming eventually a college professor. He first taught in the district school at Benjamin, later was principal of the schools of Hinckley, Utah, and also principal of the schools at American Fork. He had charge of English classics in the Brigham Young University at Provo and while devoting much of his attention to his professional duties he also engaged in the insurance and real estate business as a side line. He first became active in the real estate field at American Fork, where he continued for two years and then removed to Provo, where he bought out the Provo Realty Company, consolidating the same with the Garden City Real Estate Company. In 1917 he organized the Provo Consolidated Real Estate Company and was president thereof until he disposed of the business in 1918 to become district manager for the Inter-Mountain Life Insurance Company. His position is one of large responsibility and his recent experience well qualifies him for the work that devolves upon him in this connection. He is alert and energetic, ready to meet any emergency, and his judgement is sound and discriminating.
In 1906 Mr. Hickman was united in marriage to Miss Jennie Dixon, of Payson, a daughter of John H. Dixon. She died in 1910, leaving two children, Ferrin and Florence. In 1912 Mr. Hickman was again married, his second union being with Olive Nixon, of Provo, a daughter of J. W. Nixon, and they had five children, Leslie Dean, Olive Erma, June Rene, Nina Elaine and Ruth Luana.
Mr. Hickman served on a mission for the church in the southern states from 1900 until 1902 and was president of the conference. He has also been a member of the Seventy. In politics he is a republican, thoroughly informed concerning the vital questions and issues of the day, and he has served as a delegate to county conventions but has never sought nor desired office as a reward for party fealty. He resides at No. 345 East Center Street, in Provo, in a beautiful residence. He is a most progressive and enterprising young business man and a wide-awake citizen whose devotion to the public welfare is thoroughly recognized.
--The above biography was likely written by Frank L. Hickman; it appeared in
Noble Warrum, Ed., Utah Since Statehood: Historical and Biographical
(4 volumes.), 1919, Vol. 3, pp. 1077-1078.
Frank Hickman Succombs in Ogden Hospital
OGDEN---Frank Leslie Hickman, 68, Washington Arms Apts., formerly of Salt Lake City and Provo, died Tuesday morning in an Ogden hospital after a heart attack.
He was born April 7, 1880, in Benjamin, a son of George Washington and Lucy Ann Haws Hickman. He was married to Jennie Dixon. After her death he was married to Olive Nixon.
A graduate of Brigham Young University, Mr. Hickman taught in Utah schools for many years. He was principal of American Fork High School, Hinckley High School, Bingham and Copperton High Schools. For several years he was in the insurance business. At the time of his death he was employed at the Clearfield Naval Depot.
Survivors include a son and daughter by his first marriage, Ferrin D. Hickman, Eugene, Ore., and Mrs. Florence H. Curtis, Provo; five sons and daughters by his second marriage, L. Dean Hickman, San Francisco; Mrs. Erma Bird, Venice, Calif.; June R. Hickman, New York; Mrs. Elaine H. Maxfield, Salt Lake City, and Mrs. Ruth H. Coon, Magna; two sisters and a brother, Mrs. T.E. Daniels, Logan; Miss Laura Hickman and G.S. Hickman, Salt Lake City; 13 grandchildren.
Funeral services will be conducted at 125 North Main St., Salt Lake City, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., where friends may call Friday afternoon and Saturday prior to services. Burial will be in Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park.
--Deseret News, Wed Apr 21 1948 p.25.
F. Leslie Hickman
OGDEN---Funeral services for Frank Leslie Hickman, formerly a resident of Salt Lake City and Provo, will be conducted Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at 125 North Main St., Salt Lake City.
Friends may call at the place of services Friday afternoon and Saturday until funeral time. Burial will be in Wasatch lawn Memorial Park.
Mr. Hickman, a school teacher for many years, died Tuesday morning in an Ogden hospital after a heart attack. He was in the insurance business for several years. At the time of his death he was employed by the Clearfield Naval Depot.
--Deseret News, Thurs Apr 22 1948 p.23.
To read Leslie's autobiography, click here. To contact Erma Bird, click here. To learn more about George Washington Hickman, click here. To return to the Hickman Family index page, click here.