George Francis Hickman
by Gwen Wade
George Francis Hickman was born March 27, 1869 in Benjamin, Utah, Utah to Dr. George Washington Hickman and Lucy Ann Haws. He was the 7th in a family of 13 children. He was baptized in the LDS Church June 2, 1877. His early education was obtained in the Provo Schools. He started teaching school at age 19 in Pond Town, Utah, now called Salem. He met his first wife, Harriett Douglass at a dance in Payson, Utah and two years later, they were married in Salt Lake City, on March 27, 1890. March 30, 1892, they were sealed in the LDS Manti Temple.
Their wedding reception was reportedly the largest ever held in Payson up to that date. Harriett was a lovely woman of 20 with long dark hair and brown eyes (click here for a picture of her). George was 21 and a tall handsome man. They made a very striking couple. They made their home in Benjamin, Utah, where George was then teaching. After finishing the school year in Benjamin, they both attended the Brigham Young Academy. George received his A.B. Degree.
They moved back to Benjamin where their first two children were born: Vera Lucille, December 1, 1892 and Leanora, November 3, 1894. They moved to Payson, Utah where George was the Principal of Central High School for four years.
On March 20, 1896, George was set apart by the LDS Church to fill a 2 ½ year mission to Germany. It wasn’t uncommon to call a married man on a mission in those days. He left his wife with 2 young girls and a baby on the way. He arrived at Liverpool, England on 9 April 1896, and on the 11th of April he and Andrew Thomson, Jr. of Ephraim, Utah proceeded from there to Germany. While he was on his mission, their third child, Hattie, was born in Payson, Utah, July 22, 1896. After his mission, he attended the University of Geneva at Geneva Switzerland for one year. He then traveled extensively throughout Europe before returning home.
On his return to his family and meeting his daughter Hattie for the first time, they moved to Woodruff, Utah. George was principal of the school there for two years. George and Harriett’s first son, Sterling Douglass, was born April 16, 1899 in Woodruff, Rich, Utah. They, then, moved to Castle Dale, Emery, Utah where George was principal of the Castle Dale Academy for 14 years. Their fifth child, Laura Maree, was born in Benjamin, Utah on June 12, 1902. She was named for George’s youngest sister Mary Laura Hickman, who never married. Their second son and sixth child, Cleo Von, was born in Castle Dale, May 6, 1906. Their last two children, daughters, Edna Gwenivere, August 4, 1908 and Marva Dougline, November 20, 1910, were born in Castle Dale, Emery, Utah.
Sterling Douglass came down with appendicitis and died November 23, 1910 just three days after Harriett had given birth to their last child. George and Harriett were very distraught. Harriett even more so because she was recovering from child birth and was not well enough to attend her son’s funeral. George stayed up all one night trying to find a name for the new child. He came up with Dougline in memory of their lost son. Dougline often said that she wished that he hadn’t stayed up all night because she didn’t care for her name.
George always thought that he should have been able to live in polygamy, even though it was after the Manifesto, ending polygamy among the LDS Church members. He lived it anyway. There are two known women who he thought of as wives, a Chloe Palmer and Zina Alberta Woolf (click here for a family picture). When Harriett learned that Zina was pregnant with his child, she divorced George and told him to give that child his last name legally. Their little Dougline was only two years old when George left his family.
Because his devotion to the principle of polygamy continued decades after the LDS Church abandoned it, he was excommunicated.
George then spent the next four years at the University of California where he received his Master’s Degree. For one and a half years while studying in California for his Ph. D., he was deputy sheriff of Alameda County. He and Zina were married in Salt Lake City, Utah, January 24, 1915 even though his divorce from Harriett was not finalized until July 31, 1919.
In the fall of 1919, he returned to Utah and entered the life insurance field as a general agent for the Intermountain Life Insurance Company, which later became the California Western States Life Insurance Company, for whom he wrote over three million dollars of personal business. In January of 1929 he became associated with the Pacific National Life Assurance Company as a general agent. Cleo Von Hickman joined his father in the insurance business and he moved to Oregon where he, like his father, became very prominent in the insurance business.
George and Zina had three children, John D., George Francis, Jr., and Maryel. They lived for many years at 383 G Street in Salt Lake City, Utah.
An article by Leonard Brinton in the Panlaco, a Pacific National Life Insurance Co. newletter, in 1943, described him as follows: "He was well liked by his students, who endearingly called him France and by his friends, neighbors and associates, who knew him as 'G.F.'. His early rearing in the country, love of nature and of people, his training by fine parents and teachers, his natural genial, generous and optimistic disposition and his innate honesty have made him known and loved, not only as a man with the house by the side of the road, but the man with the heart by the side of the road. His daily routine is characterized by the song and laughter and cheer he communicates to others. This habit of being a cloud disperser might be thought of by others as being a hobby, but since it is his natural disposition, 'G. F.' has never thought of it as such. 'If I have a hobby,' he says, 'it is doodling.' With his fine penmanship he has made decorations of his famous birds in nearly every hotel and many school houses in the state as well as on his personal greeting cards and autographs." (Click here to see a sample of this from about 1950)
Harriet died March 1, 1949 and is buried in Castle Dale, Utah. George did attend her funeral. After all, she was his first love and mother of eight of his children. Zina died October 19, 1956 and George, suffering from dementia, was moved to Oakland, California to a care center near his son John D. His mind was failing but it was reported that his body was strong. He would often run away from the care center jumping hedges to do it. He died October 12, 1958 at the age of 89 in Oakland, Alameda county, California. He was cremated and his ashes scattered at sea.
Eighteen years later, on January 14, 1976, George Francis Hickman was re-baptized in Salt Lake City by proxy and reinstated so that his name can now be found on the records of the church.
To read about George F. Hickman in Berkeley in 1917, click here.
To return to the Hickman Family index page, click here.