These are some of the letters William Adams Hickman wrote, collected from various sources:
Here is a letter Bill Hickman wrote to Brigham Young in the last week of 1859 while recovering from gunshot wounds received in a shootout with Lot Huntington at the home of his daughter Sarah Catherine Butcher:
I am glad I am able to sit up in bed and write you—my very soul is grieved with regard to misrepresentations that have reached you. When my Bro. [George] told me what you said, made the cold sweat run off me and I almost sank under it. Hear me and then say where I am wrong. Some ten days previous to my being shot, I was at John Wakeley’s taking breakfast. John was not at home, his family and Bill Woodland were there. "Cub" Johnson, Lott Huntington and about 8 others came, said I was hard man to find, said they had some business with me invited me out, we stood but a few steps from the door—he accused me of being round his house to kill him, which I denied, then he accused John Flack, Jason Luce, and all the boys that live with [me], which I told him was false. About this time Lott came up swore it was so, and would kill me.
Upon this the crowd gathered round. Most of them hands on their pistols, and I thought I had to go up—I told them to turn themselves loose for they should never have a better chance, and if fight was what was wanted I was ready and willing a man as they ever saw. This put a check to things and they calmed considerable. I then demanded their author, they said they would give none, but said they would some other time. Next, they accused me in being officious[?], in having Port Rockwell go south after them and Johnson—this they said they believed, and if they knew it was so they would shot me—I told them I knew nothing about their animals nor Port going after them.
Then they turned themselves loose in general terms, Cub and Lott, swearing and saying did not care a d--- for god almighty, General Johnson [sic] or old Brigham. Says they, Bill Hickman, if Brigham was to try to stop us in another expedition we would go up and cut his throat like a dog. They were going to do as they pleased, and I nor no other person must be in their way—I talked till they calmed and left—this was the first I knew they had anything against me—all their accusations against me were false, no foundation for one word.
Some four of the boys and myself came in town on Friday previous to Christmas taking a sleigh ride. I cautioned them to keep strait [sic] which they did.
The same knight [sic], I was sitting by the fire at Butcher’s, my son-law,--my daughter says, "look out," and the blanket was shoved aside from the window and pistol polked [sic] through at me—when she spoke he ran, but did not go far and as their [sic] was no stir after, remaining about 15 minutes he Lott in company with a man I did not know, came and raped [sic] at the door. Came in very friendly. Now, he was not out of site [sic], from the time he poked his pistol in the window’ at me, till he came in. Next evening he came again. With some 3 or four, my boys were all with me—he asked if I had anything against him. I told him nothing—only the way he treated me at Wakeley’s. He admitted he should not have done so, so this ended the matter.
We started up town. On the way he says to me, "When you find out who has told all these stories on you, you will find it to be Dick Wheeler." Next day I seen Dick and asked him. He said he never said a word against me in his life—On Sunday, Christmas, I was in the alley at Townsends—had sent for the sleigh to go home. All hands sober. I care anything being drunk that day. Wheeler was there. Lott came up, this being the first I had seen of him that day. . . . With the bitterest kind of any oath, [he] drew his pistol cocked, which I caught—I thought first I would kill him. Drew my knife with the other hand but, he[l]d up after starting a blow. All hands says to me, "Don’t kill him." I stopped, someone steped [sic] in between us. He fell back a few feet and shot me.
I drew my pistol, but before I got it out of the scabbord he shot at me again—as I brought my pistol on him, he wheeled to run. I shot. He jumped some 3 feet high, clapping his hand behind him. He then run out from the alley about 50 steps, wheeled, shot twice at J. Luce, then at John Flack, upon which the boys returned the compliments. Butcher says he shot at him also, but this I did not see. I shot 4 times. Followed him to George Grants—Now Br. Brigham this is true as I know how to tell it,--one thing more, the party at Wakeley’s swore vengence [sic] on Port Rockwell. Ron Clauson says "Boys don’t bother yourselves about him. I intend to get him."
Brigham’s reply has been lost, but Hickman wrote him again before 19 January 1860:
Dear Bro Brigham,
With regards to my associates and drinking. I had an object in view in keeping the company which I have. It seemed to open without exertion, so that I could find out everything that was going on in town at Camp Floyd, Judge Ecles [Eckles], holding back nothing. This all came about with having saying [said] ought against you or the Church. Their feelings and some several items I had learned. Thought [it] would be a benefit and on Saturday before Christmas I came up to communicate with you. Waited an hour, but you did not come in. Now, the more whiskey they would drink the freer they would talk, and of course I had to keep up my corners. I did so with them when we had no conversation in order to keep natural—I have seen that I was watched. I knew it. I supposed your ears were filled with stories against me, but I was determined to [tell] no person till I did you. I have had the question asked, "Bill, what’s going on?" My reply would be, "O nothing, but drinking whiski [sic]," now in these associations I thought I was doing rite [sic] I thought if I could find out anything that would benefit you I [line missing].
I know I have drank a great deal of whisky, but it is no object for me to quit. If you say it is best, I will never taste another drop. If you say leave my Gentile associations, I am willing. I’m sure it is no pleasure to me. No person has seen me drunk in the streets, notwithstanding all my whiskeying. No person has seen one of the boys drunk that live with (me), drunk in town. I lecture them at home with my family once a week. We attend our prayers regular. Notwithstanding my reported wickedness. This you can learn from the teachers of our ward or our neighbors—our aim and intentions is to do right and I have faults and imperfections and do wrong, but when ever I know it, I repent as fast as I can—I may have many faults that I do not know of—Bro. Brigham please forgive me of what I have done wrong. I know this is the work of the almighty. I know who you are. It has long since been shown to me, long since. I delight in the Latterday work. I hope whether I live or die whether I obtain [line missing].
I know I have been profane but I scarse [sic] ever use the name of God. When I am very mad I check myself I do not guard against it as I keep trying to overcome it--.There are many other things I would like to say but I am tired. I have been 3 days writing—it may sound flat but it [is] the best I can do in my feeble state.
May the lord bless, perserve and prosper you is my prayer all the day long.
Wm. A. Hickman
--Hope A. Hilton, "Wild Bill" Hickman and the Mormon Frontier, p.90-93
This is a letter from Bill to his wife, Minerva, written from Western Nevada four months before he was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
8 February 1868
I have often thought of you and the little fellos. O! how I want to see them. I wish you all the good I can, and hope you are well and doing well—I saw Sarah’s man, that is Wm. Francis accidentally they were just going to start over the mountains but on meeting me they stayed a day longer it was very surprising to me to meet them as I had not heard of their being married neither had I any idea of it. I don’t know when I was so much set back—I did not like it at first, but have become very well satisfied with it. I got a letter from them yesterday, they are well and living in Sacramento. I expect in the course of a week or two to go over and see them. I have been to California and come back on this side of the mountain and am stopping with Bill Haven who lives here and was within 7 miles of Wm., Sarah Marie’s, 10 days while they were waiting for Wm. Cravin to come and help them with the horses over the mountain and did not know it—we had a great deal of talk while we were together—they say just as soon as I locate they will move and live there let it be where it may. Now Minerva it depends on you to do right and we will loose none of our children but will have them and enjoy their society, but you do talk so strange and so bad in your letters—about that reckless old father to your child—I don’t know what to think, I have not talked about you nor felt bad towards you and hoped you would hold on and we would soon be together in peace—that reckless father Minerva, what am I reckless in? I know nothing but getting out of the clutches of those who have robbed me of pretty near our all, as you very well know, what went with our cattle killed and eat money unjustly taken, hundreds of dollars, and then my life sought, and I was reckless for not suffering them to kill me. O! foolish woman you surely don’t think—but I forgive you and hope you will rightly consider things hereafter. Minerva do right and don’t be wrongly persuaded by any person, live humble and prayerful and the Lord will bless you—kiss all the children for me and tell them Pa loves them and wants to see them and you tell them you will take them where Pa and Sarah’s man is after a while not here but East—Minerva do right.
Wm. A. Hickman
--Hope A. Hilton, Edwin and Elender Webber Hickman, 3rd ed., 1978, p.152-153
Hickman’s last letter to Brigham Young, dated 15 August 1868 read as follows:
I feel bad to have so many false charges brought against me, I feel bad when I think you do not feel well towards me. What am I to do when I do not know of wrong I have done, how or of what can I repent I wish you would point out a coarse [sic] and have it under your immediate notice for me to take, not under Gardner I asked you once to release me from his jurisdiction and understood you had. I hope you will remember me and do me justice. I ask nothing more.
Wm. A. Hickman
I know I was always your friend at home or aboard and true in every sense of the word. I do hope you’ll be kind to me—how bad I feel you do not know.
--Hope A. Hilton, "Wild Bill" Hickman and the Mormon Frontier, p.120
This is a letter William Adams Hickman wrote to His Daughter, Sarah Catharine Butcher, 7 January 1872, from prison at Fort Douglas:
My Dear Daughter,
You were here some 3 days ago and asked me many questions and desired me for your dear sake as pa’s ever affectionate and faithful daughter, to show mercy which disposition in you I highly appreciate, but my daughter let us look at the past, and well consider the present, and then Judge what would naturally be the results of the future.
First my daughter, you know from the days of Missouri when you was a small child you never heard your pa say anything else but Mormonism was true up to the time when you saw me 3 days ago you then heard the same from me that you had heard from the time you was old enough to understand anything, which principles I have ever tryed to maintain and sustain. And after the assassination of that great and good man Joseph Smith the Prophet of God. I took a solem Oath to stand up against all opposition that might come against the Latter-day Saints and specialy for those who might stand at the head of Gods Kingdom. After B. Young took the leadership of the Church, I took the position of sustaining the Church and especially its officials and above all B. Young. I have in time gone by told him so and said to him, I would stand by him and stay with him unto Death, unless he barked me off. This you know I have done. I always obeyed his council and never disobeyed it. I studied his interest and was always on the look out for his welfare and safety, ten times as much as my own. I went and come at his bidding. I spent my own time and used my own means. I made my own living and plenty to support my family in better state than any of my neighbors.
I gave more to the poor and done more for the needy than all my neighbors put together. I swindled no Saint but went outside and gathered in property in abundance.
And never can it be said at any time but what I always done honor to our people in all my business transactions, while hundreds have got wealth in abundance by swindling the poor etc. Now as you know some considerable of this, I need not rehearse it, but probably you do not know that for all my work and privations for B. Young, that I never got a dollar, no not one, neither did he ever make me a present of the worth of a pocket knife, but this was nothing—I had plenty, was able to make plenty so long as I was let alone, but it many times look[ed] strange to me to see those who never raised a finger, receiving favors from him, such as I never would have thought of getting, while to your certain knowledge I never had anything too good for him, neither did I ever have anything that I could not spare for him. You well recollect when we came to Council Bluffs in fall of ‘47, that I had but two horses. I gave him both of them. We had to live hard, and I worked almost day and night until we started to the valley in the spring of ‘49, since which time I gave him two number one horses. I herded his cattle in the summer of ‘50, which would have come to fifty or a hundred dollers. I lost none and charged him nothing. When I returned from California, out of the few hundred dollers I made I gave him fifty, but what of all this. I supposed I was doing Gods service and I took pleasure in it. I took pleasure in walking the streets many a night all alone to see if anything was going on wrong that would have tendency to hurt him. And when in times past there was anything said about what I had done or was doing, never was the time I said a word or I was or had been doing so and so by order of B. Young. I packed everything that was put upon me and kept clear his skirts, and in fact I would at any time had laid down my life for him, but what has been the result, he has ce[a]sed to hear the truth and long since been governed by shallow-brained blowhards, and a vile set of lying City Officials [i.e., Robert T. Burton] and some Bishops such as [Archibald] Gardner, who has stated to us good people as there is in West Jordan that it was no harm to eat my cattle. He who raked [the] Jordan river, on nigger Toms, says so for stolen cattle hides, who was not in the least disposed to believe over 40 of us and repremanded Geo Shields, when on the way down, mob-like, thirty of them, when he said I was not guilty of any such thing. Who has so often said he would use me up amidst my every effort to please him, by responding for years to his every call, and after paying him over a thousand dollers [$1,157.31] in tithing and donations. I asked the priviledge of my family to have the benefit of the endowment house, which was refused on the grounds that if he gave me a recommend it would be against his influence. I talked with B. Young about it, he told [me] to go to Bro Kimball. Bro. Kimball told me I must have a recommend from my Bishop. And the consequence was I never got one of my family in[to] the endowment house after his reign commenced. Many of those who my money had helped to bring on had recommends right under our noses.
He was full of deception and lying and to my certain knowledge has got up on Sunday, him and his after eating my cattle and cried, "thief—thief," with all the intimations that could be, I was stealing everything. This went on as you well know untill out of a hundred and fifty head of cattle I had none, while all my neighbors lost none, or but [a] few, what do I think of such a man. He is a villain from the ground up. But yet he is sustained and his damnable deeds tolerated. To sue the language of B. Young when I wanted an investigation of my case, after I had come home 4 years ago last spring, O’ bro. Gardner, nows whirling on his heel, when I asked him to hear me as much as to say Kiss his Ass.
You want me to be merciful, that’s all good my daughter, but let us look after this man a little further while we are talking about him. Was not my house watched 4 years ago last spring, by his dirty thieves and his armed villains slipping into my house with kocked guns, and pistols in hand. Yes, I seen them and through the mercy of God I escaped, and to continue what was the condition of things in the fall following. Why that low-bred dog Sam Bateman, with ten men watched me day and night for weeks, and twice while laying in the brush, seen them with pistols in hand step into my tent after midnight. Finally they set the time to make a finish of me, but thanks be to my God I understood it all, and left. And poor Sam made great lamentation that he had lost 3 weeks watching me and now I had got away after all. Maybe he will deny this, but my proof is on hand. Who ordered this. O pa you must be merciful. Yes, daughter that’s right, but to go on, who sent Bazel Hampton after me? Who followed me with two others to deep creek with the story in their mouths that I had killed a Gentile close to the city, and robed him of ten thousand dollers. Yes, who sent him out of the City. Well you guess. I know, maybe he would deny it. My proofs are in Bingham Cannon, and more than one. O yes, pa be merciful. May I ask you who has managed everything in this country. Well you know. I will tell you. I have told to him most of these things, and for an answer I think I just about got a grunt or nothing more in substance. But to continue on with this trip, while I am at it. You know I was sick while gone, yes, I lay 4 months [or] more a scelition [skeleton] among strangers. Well, I wrote home to B. Young stating facts as I have to you, and the answer was "The wicked fleeth when no man persueth."
O the falsehood and hipocracy my God, my God. Where has right and truth fled to, probably to those police, together with the Probate Court. Old [Elias] Smith at their head, who when I had detected and found those thieves in possession of some 5 or 6 thousand dollers worth of stolen goods, they would take the reward, my earnings and set the burglars to swear against me in order to cover their rascallity, and kept them at it 3 months. Although they did not make their point, the thieves done so well they got off with a promise of a pay something some time. Yes, you know this.
What did they try to do with me. Imprison, and I gave a hundred and eighteen thousand dollers bail. Who winked at this and would not hear a word. Well, now my daughter I am arreasted on several charges, and many think it a great crime in me that I am not willing to pack all the charges that are on me, submit and say nothing. Well, had I had the treatment that a common dog should have had, I would have done it unto death. Now suppose I had my family together, which was the best governed family in Utah, could I not in all good faith have left them, went to Mexico and let everything be laid on me. I would have taken pleasure even in death for my friends, but they say I am a traitor. Who is the traitor. When last fall I was accused of killing a desperado Spaniard who had taken my wife while I was run off by those murderers four years ago, and he the villain making his brags how he intended to seduce my daughter—your sister. The Deseret News, the main Mormon organ under the control and dictation of the leading men, says that well-known desperado has killed a Spaniard, a good man, and wounded a frenchman. He who has so often through his cunning escaped the ends of justice. They hoped he would be caught and the ends of the law fully awarded to him, and again what did they say when I was arrested, and brought here? They hooted again and pated the marshall for the good thing he had done. Do you suppose for one moment that I am able to fight the Gentiles with the Mormon aid that was on hand, and offering to help them wishing writs to arreast me etc. Thats a biger fight than I can make. I am thrown off. Have been refused an investigation [a line is missing due to a fold in the letter] . . . have had it I could have made twenty thousand dollars out of it in one year, but no I could not get it. It was left for others and the desert has no turnpike yet. If I asked a favour that there was money in that no one had any claim in, I could not get it. Well, you know how I have been treated. As regards the breaking up of my family. That good and great family have through council been scattered, some one way and some another. And when I did not stay at home to be killed, I was cut off of the Church because I fled to save my life, and Geo A. Smith sit by, who I have done so many favors, and never said a word. Well, this was one of the made up cases and thoroughly ordered all the way down. Well, upon the whole what have I got to live for. First my religion, and second my posterity and friends. I also live to help gods people and good men but Gods would be the rascals, traitors, robbers, assasins and seekers of my distruction.
I am under no obligation to let those whose lies have been believed and truth crowded out, take care of those who have believed them, and I for one want to see if God Almighty will assist and sustain a set of scoundrels and have the innocent destroyed. My prayer is, Thy will be done O father of heaven and earth and not mine. I have done nothing through fear or with the expectation of reward. The many and damnable abuses I have received has caused the charms of life not to be longer desirable, but I have faith to believe I will yet, according to the prophecies placed upon me, see Zion established and flourish and my posterity gathered to rejoice. The lord will bring it about in his own way, while all corruption will go to its own place.
The past I have scarcely lived through as for the present I know there is no honour. While you would ask mercy for certain ones they to my certain knowledge are seeking any way to destroy me even up to this day. The full ends of the future I know not, but one thing I do know, God Almighty rules and reigns, and its him I thank for all my existance. In spite of all that men can do.
I have since I came here had to make statements. I have written a rough book [Brigham’s Destroying Angel] but no more rough than true. I knew what I had to contend against, but yet although no favour would be shewn me, or if any, a mere blind to answer their own ends.
I will be merciful. I have and always had influence. I have it still in some respects. I will use it according to your request, but I must do it in my own way and if things move quietly through in a right manner I can. I will. Yes, daughter I will, but if I am compelled I have only begun to withstand a few things that have come up.
from your affectionate father
Wm. A. Hickman
[A certified copy of the above letter, dated 29 January 1872, is located in the archives of the Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. The location of the original, if it still survives, is unknown.]
--Hope A. Hilton, "Wild Bill" Hickman and the Mormon Frontier, p.139-144
The first letter reproduced below was written by Bill Hickman four months before his death. It is dated April 22, 1883. He died in Lander, Wyoming on August 23, 1883. The letter is addressed to his son James Barton Hickman, son of Bill’s tenth wife, Mary Jane Hetherington Hickman. James was born in Murray, Utah, and after the family split up in 1868, brought by his mother as a child to Jacob City and Stockton, both just south of Tooele City, Tooele County, Utah Territory, where he received this letter and the one described below.
The typescript of the second letter was written by Bernetta Hickman Allen after Bill died, describing his last illness and death. Bernetta, also known as "Aunt Kitten", is the daughter of Bill by his first wife, Bernetta Burckhardt.
The originals of both of these letters belonged to Karen Hickman Eisenbrandt of Tooele, Utah, a great-great granddaughter of Bill, but after a public showing in 1995, they were lost. The letters had been stored in an old attic owned by the family of Bill’s tenth wife. [this was written by Hope Hilton]
Lander City, April 22, 83
Son James [James Barton Hickman], Stockton, U.T. [Utah Territory]
Well my boy, its, to long that I have delayed writing. I received the Tribunne of the 5th and some days after got your verry good letter but the boys had a lot of wood put up for burning coal [making charcoal]—and as I could do nohting [sic] else they had me watch the pit – it almost smoked my eyes out and has taken me 12 days to get through. I have just got so I can see enough to write – so you see my excuse – wont do so again if I can see – much oblige for the papers and thanks for your kind letter all hands red [sic] it with pleasure and great boasting an Jimmy being a trump. Nothing new since writing, winter has passed off at last, and grass getting tolerable good – not enough yet. Snows a little every day or two snowed about an inch last night went off by noon. The spring is verry backward – people has not ploughed much yet, horses look shaby, - will leave when grass git good – probaby not before June. Will come west to Hilliard and then where don’t know yet – got my wagon and harness and horses enough to hall [sic] us and a colt or two besides. Haven’t gained anything since I came here. Went down and still in a bad fix, not able to work for my shoulder – it gains a little but slowly- John [Allen, Bill’s son-in-law] and folks will move with us. I see in the Tribune you was at the white house on the 15. Old granny [Bill’s wife number one, Bernetta Burckhardt], and all send their love. I can’t write to-day cant see or use the pen worth a cent. So I quit.
Wm A. Hickman
I want you to send me 25cts. Worth of Podophylin, it won’t weigh ˝ oz/ get it at Godbees. My health is poor beside my lame shoulder and I kneed [sic] medicine, well I am asking a heap of you, but I will see you are righted after awhile.
This is the letter reporting Bill Hickman’s death:
Lander City [Wyoming Terr.] Sep 3, 1883
Dear Bro. [James Barton Hickman, actually a half brother to the writer, Bernetta "Kitten" Hickman Allen] I write to let you know all bout pas [sic] death. I would have writen sooner but it was so unexpected to us that we have been almost crazy and mother [Bill’s wife number one, Bernetta Burkhardt] is so old and feble [sic]. We was feared it would kill her. He was aiding for 3 weeks but going around all the time until the last week. We sent for a doctor and he said his case was not a serious one if he would take the medison [sic] as directed but he would only take it when he took the notion. His disese [sic] was the flux diarrhea. The doctor said it was cosed [sic, caused] from strong drink. We never thought of him dying until the evening before he died. The next morning he spoke several times while he was sick about writing to you and said if he did not get beter soon I must write for him if we had thought he was so dangeros [sic, close to death] we would have sent you and hi [Hyrum Hickman, brother of James Barton Hickman] and Geo. A telegram he had his mind to the last and seemed willing to go. He called for the children to kiss and then asked John [Allen, Kitten’s husband and Bill’s son-in-law] to take care of mother, the rest of her days and passed away as easy as if he was going to sleep. We are going to start for Utah about the tenth as mother wants to go.
Direct your answer to Coalville, Summit Co. Utah and we will get it on our way. Jimmy [James Barton Hickman] if there is any thing more you want to know you can ask when you write. Remember me kindly to your Ma [Mary Jane Hetherington Hickman, Bill’s tenth wife] and Hi [Hyrum Hickman} and anwer [sic] soon. From your sister.
Bernetta [Hickman] Allen
Pa would have been seventy years old next April.