A Guided Tour of the Hickman Museum

Here I would like to call your attention to the displays, represented by colored buttons on the left hand side of the previous screen.  They look like this:                       Clicking on one of them will take you to a site with information on that subject.  If you are unsure whether you are one of our Hickmans, you might try using the Tools button to help you get acquainted with genealogical research, which can lead you to discovery of how you connect, if not to our Hickmans, perhaps to other Hickmans who might be almost as interesting.  As you read this and other pages at this site, if you see a subject you would like to learn more about, and it is in blue, underlined, all you need to do is click on it with your mouse pointer and you will be taken there.

      This museum contains all kinds of items that relate to the Hickman family.  It isn't limited to people who have Hickman as a last name.  Thousands of Hickmans haven't had that last name for several generations, me included.  Some of the pages are dedicated to people who had no relation to the Hickmans, but were in some important way associated with them.  Sometimes the connection will not be immediately obvious, but if you really need to know, don't hesitate to ask me.

The Hickmans were a very close family, and moderately wealthy, with numerous slaves to work their farm.  They had ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, and both they and their ancestors were civic leaders in their communities.   Like the hundreds of thousands who migrated west, the father Edwin was interested in going west to mine gold, but he never did.  His oldest son Bill had settled in Utah.  Probably based on rumors he had read in the newspapers, Edwin suspected there must be gold in the mountains around the Great Salt Lake, and considered going to Utah to mine it.  Though there really was gold near the Great Salt Lake, it wouldn't be discovered for another fourteen years.  The mother Elizabeth was a deeply religious woman.  Though there are family traditions that she was somehow related to the two United States Presidents John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams,  later generations of Hickmans determined that this relationship did not really exist.  What kind of people were they?  It is unfortunate that time has erased many family memories, but here's one that has been preserved:  click here.

The Utah War of 1857-58 is a little-known prelude to the great American Civil War.  It seems US President James Buchannan had appointed a new territorial governor and sent him to Utah accompanied by a military escort, led by the passionate General Albert Sydney Johnston, but he had neglected to inform the existing territorial governor, Brigham Young, of his intentions.  As a result of this blunder, the Mormons viewed the invasion as what it appeared to be, and fought back.  They did this in very clever ways, because they did not have the resources to engage American troops on the battlefield, and realized the American public would continue to be against this war so long as no American troops were killed.  William Adams Hickman is the most famous of the Hickmans because of his heroic guerrilla exploits during this period.  Curiously, after the war he established a home at Fairfield, adjacent to Camp Floyd, where Johnston's Army established a military post. And though the concept of Indian fighters is not popular today, at one time they were considered by white settlers to be real heroes, and Bill also gained a reputation as one of those. 

William Adams Hickman was probably the most complex Hickman that ever lived.  We have a small collection of pictures of him.  He was husband to ten wives, a family man, a loner, a school teacher, a body guard, a rancher, a farmer, a prospector, a miner, an explorer, a gang leader, an Indian fighter, a lawyer, a legislator, a writer, a religious leader, an apostate, a lawman, an outlaw.

He wrote the manuscript to a book and gave it to an anti-Mormon journalist named J.H. Beadle, who took it back east and published it with some sensational revisions as Brigham's Destroying Angel.  The publisher was George Crofutt, who used some of the text and all of the pictures in an 1872 guide to the American West, as it may be seen from the windows of a railroad car. Some of the pages from this book that apply to Wyoming and Utah are available for you to read.

He had a gang, named Hickman's Hounds, of which Jason Luce was a member until January 1864.  After that date Jason ceased to be friendly to Bill Hickman.

There were others who had good or bad things to say about our William Adams Hickman.  You will probably be interested to read the accounts of William Clark, Basil G. Parker, and Thomas Beisinger.  After Bill died a tribute was written to his place in Western Folklore, and this was amplified by George C. Bates after he was sure Bill was really dead.

Children of Bill's first wife had an age advantage over those born to wives married after he'd arrived in Utah.  One of these was William George Hickman, who participated as an adult with his father and uncles in numerous mining ventures on the west side of the Oquirrh Mountains.  An interesting sidelight is his arrest for gambling in 1863.  He was later proved innocent, but it is interesting to learn who the others were that were involved in that incident.

One of William George Hickman's sisters, Sarah Catherine, married Samuel Monroe Butcher, who became a member of Hickman's gang, and did gang-related activities, for which though sentenced to six years, he served one month in prison, being freed as part of the celebration of President Lincoln's second inauguration in 1865.  He settled down and became a successful farmer and rancher who also dabbled in mining, but he had an uneasy relationship with some neighbors the Cottons.  Though the fight that took place the 24th of July 1873 was a tragic event resulting from hot tempers and misunderstanding, it tells us much more about the Butcher family and the community in which they lived than we ever would know if it hadn't happened.  Despite the fact that he was later nearly lynched by his neighbors, Samuel Butcher continued to live in the community for many years, and many of his children stayed long after he left to seek his fortune in Southern Utah.  You can visit some of them in Bingham by clicking here.

We know very little about Easom Sharp Hickman, but we do have a picture of him, and we know he didn't travel too far from Missouri.  Does anybody out there know anything else?

James Barton Hickman came to Utah probably in 1866.  According to Bill's daughter Lerona Minerva, he stayed with Bill's families at Murray prior to going to Bingham Canyon where he was a doctor and miner.  He held some very important mineral properties, and invented a method for precipitating copper from creek water.  But though he knew he was sitting on the mother lode of Bingham, he couldn't figure out how to cash in, and so it was left to later owners of his properties to extract into the billions of dollars that eluded him.  Even today, James' mining claims produce millions of dollars per year in copper, gold, and silver, and the precipitation process he invented has been improved and is employed at copper mines all over the world.

Because geography was the biggest factor separating the various Hickman families from each other (as it is today), we have included a selection of maps of places that were familiar to them.

One of Bill's daughters, Lerona Minerva's very perceptive account of growing up among Bill Hickman's families in Murray provides us with some delightful insights into family dynamics, and if you haven't read it, you definitely should.

       In 1935 Charles Kelly had just published a book on Mormon gunmen and interviewed a daughter of Bill Hickman, a Mrs. Shaw.  You can see the notes from his interview by clicking here.

The youngest Hickman brother, Warren, came to Utah about 1866, staked claims and operated mines at Bingham, Mercur, Alta, and other locations.  He was admitted to the State Mental Hospital because he had "extraordinary ideas of personal wealth."  The sad thing is he saw technology transform other men into billionaires using mineral properties he had abandoned or sold for small sums of money, and the "personal wealth" he thought he had, could really have been his.  If only!

To see just how involved in mining the Hickmans were, it is suggested you click here to read a discussion of their mining activities at Bingham Canyon, with supporting documents .  Since real estate was involved, there are maps to illustrate the Hickman land holding in Upper Bingham, Lower Bingham, and along Bingham Creek near present-day Copperton.  Click here to read about Bill Hickman's discovery of silver at Mercur; he convinced other family members to stake claims there too, even Dr. George W. Hickman, who ordinarily wouldn't get involved in such ventures.  This second source also discusses the very interesting Butcher family of  Bingham Canyon from the aspect of their land dealings.  What you read between the lines is a lot more interesting story than the legal language in which the transactions are described.  And sometimes the legal language provides you with information you wouldn't have thought possible.  For example, the sale of William Butcher's placer claim (36) lists even the wheelbarrows, shovels, and gold pans.

       The Bingham Canyon the Hickmans knew is a very different place from the Bingham Canyon mine, which can be visited today, and which occupies the same geographic coordinates.  A series of photographs has been included to give you the opportunity to see some of the scenery that was familiar to the Hickmans, but after they left the canyon, the parts that weren't scooped up and hauled away were buried beneath tons of waste rock.  Many of these pictures are from a few decades after the Hickmans left, but photos from before the 1880s are rare, and radical change didn't begin in the canyon until 1906.  A few documents are included to show you how the canyon itself adjusted to the transition from logging camp to congested one-street city to ghost town.  If you'd like to learn more, there is also a history of Bingham that--though it never mentions a member of the Hickman family even once--fills in many of the gaps left open by the other documents and photographs.

Thomas Jefferson Hickman was accused by the US Army in 1857 of being a Mormon spy, and was eventually set free to return to Missouri, then he joined the 1859 Pike's Peak gold rush with five of his brothers:  Easom, Martin, Warren, and probably James and Josiah.  After Martin was killed by a claim jumper he and Warren killed the murderer, then they probably came to Utah.  He may have been robbed in 1863--at least a newspaper article says this of someone with the same name.  Thomas joined the Latter-day Saint church, served in the Confederate Army in the Civil War, went to Colorado to be a sheriff, and disappeared from family history.

George Washington Hickman received his medical diploma and was imigrating to California with his brother Thomas when he was captured by Army troops and accused of spying for the Mormons.  He was later freed, then for a time it was thought he'd been murdered by mountain men, upset over the military successes of his brother Bill.  In actuality, he came to Utah, investigated Mormon theology, and was baptized into the Latter-day Saint church.  Though he participated with his brothers in a few mining claims at Mercur, he was never really a miner.  He practiced medicine until Mormon leaders persuaded their followers to seek spiritual healings, then he tried farming and running a store, but he and his family lived in poverty.

One of George's sons, Josiah, became a college professor and in his time was considered one of the leading intellectuals in the LDS church.  He was famed as a public speaker, as a witness in a hearing before the US Senate.  He was very interested in reuniting the scattered Hickman family, and in 1934 he arranged with LDS church leaders to have William Adams Hickman, who had been excommunicated, posthumously reinstated in the church.  He also kept a detailed diary for over 40 years.

A daughter of George, Eunice Lettie, married Thomas Richardson of Benjamin, Utah.  This might not seem terribly important to you, but she was my great-grandmother, so it's important to me.  If you want to argue about it, please note that there is plenty of room on the website to give some space to your great-grandmother as well.  What would you like to contribute?

Since Edwin and Elizabeth's son Orson died as an infant, we don't have any information to share with his descendants, if any.

Of Edwin and Elizabeth's four daughters, Lettice, Caroline, Rhoda, and Sally we currently know nothing.  If you have information, please consider sharing it with us. 

       I have--and I expect that you probably have too--held Hickman family items in my hands that if I wanted to see them again today, I wouldn't know where to look or whom to ask.  The amount of Hickman family historical material is decreasing, and the internet provides a way that it can be shared with everyone, and it's no longer such a great loss to our family's history when that item gets destroyed, as it eventually will.

Until recently the Edwin Temple Hickman Family Association held reunions every two years, the most recent being in the year 2000.  Maybe the internet has made such gatherings no longer necessary.

Since this site is being built piece by piece, a way has been provided that you can discover when new information has been added that you have not yet seen. 

       Since this article was written, much more material has been added that you are invited to discover on your own.

If you would like to return to the Hickman Family index page, click here