Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hickman murder

February 2, 1910-- 107 years ago. This was Dr. Charles W. Hickman's last day. At this moment, I don't know how he spent those final hours, but I assume it was just a regular day. It was a Thursday. While I cannot confirm the weather for that day, when Dr. Hickman was discovered, face up, on the sidewalk with a gun shot wound through the head, his overcoat was strewn some distance from him.

It's 1910. The Wright Brothers were installing a flight school in Hometown that year. It was 1910 when the Boy Scouts became a national organization. In 1910, we are two years from the HMS Titanic meeting the wrong side of an iceberg and I am pretty sure we only had 47 states at the time. Arizona became the 48th in 1912. And the world did not know what a force Germany could become for another four years.

It's 1910 and The Village of Summerville is a separate entity from the metropolis of Augusta. Summerville had no street lights and when there was a house fire-- people had to run outside and fire a pistol to alert the neighbors. Though it lacked modern luxuries like indoor plumbing, it was still a sought after destination for the wealthy to visit in the summer and the local upper echelon to live year round in ornate homes. 

Dr. Hickman being no exception. 

Dr. Hickman, son of H.H. Hickman grew up on Telfair Street- not the Telfair downtown, rather what you know as Hickman Avenue. HH Hickman's home, 956 Hickman Ave, still stands. I would not recommend knocking on the door, but do a slow drive by and you can get an idea as to his level of wealth. 



H.H. and Sarah had four children, Mary, Fannie, Charles, and Tracy. At the age of 23, Mary was was still unmarried and could not read or write. She would eventually marry, have a daughter, learn these valuable skills and become a widow- returning to her father's house with her daughter in the quick span of about 20 years. 

Fannie married and died early on- she had two children. I don't know much about her yet. 

But the focus of all this is on Charles and Tracy.

Charles, the doctor, kept an office downtown, 761 Broad Street. Tracy was the president of a highly profitable local manufacturing company. What once produced flour and then textiles, now produces medical students and yuppies in downtown warehouse apartments. 

This is the 700 block of Broad Street from 1903 {opposite side of the street from the office}:


My buddy has a third generation optometry office at 767 Broad, Casella Eye Center. 761 Broad is gone, replaced with a 17-story "skyscraper" completed in 1918. 

So, here we are... February 2.... it's a little after 9pm and Tracy tells his brother good night for the last time. Charles tips his hat and off into the night he goes, with mere minutes left to live.

Tracy I. Hickman


As he walks by a vacant lot with an oak thicket on Milledge Ave a few blocks from his house, he is struck with a sandbag and two shots ring out in the night. A pause, and then a third shot- fatal- breaks the nighttime silence around 9:30. Dr. Hickman will be found about an hour later, face up, on the ground- with his signature hat still in place. He will later be identified not completely by his shattered face, but by the gold initials inside the brim of his hat: C.W.H.

The gun shot wound was slightly less than an inch over his left eye. It penetrated and came out of the upper back part of his head- going through a stiff hat. The hat flew off and rolled beside him while his gold rimmed glasses stayed in place on the bridge of his nose, now covered with dirt and blood.

Hounds would be called in.
Major players in hometown will be heroes and witnesses to facts proven by no more than their good word.
A blood hunt and cries for justice will ensue and Summerville will never be the same.
People will be arrested and released.
Time will pass.

And through it all, Dr. Hickman will remain in the same capacity as when he was found that night-- very, very dead.

Stay with me. I'm just getting started.



Monday, June 26, 2017

Hickman Marriage, Continued

Sorry, This is going to take some time as I am trying to compile more information about Charles' backstory and those archives are not very searchable. Is searchable a word?

I have names and dates and locations of people and places. Currently, this novice detective is trying to pinpoint his exact route that led to his demise. Today, I took the kids to the Summerville Cemetery to find the Hickman graves. His father, H.H. Hickman, has about the largest grave in practically the middle of the cemetery. He was easy to spot.

The kids were with me. The kids are always with me and I can already my sister-in-law saying, "What is it with you and graveyards?" I pulled up a picture of Dr. & Mrs. Hickman's gravestones and showed them to Birdie. Those hawk eyes looked up and said, "There it is, Mommy!" And off we ran.

Chas, his wife- Blanche, and spinster daughter- Gladys are buried on a slightly smaller plot than his father's- northwest from H.H; directly west/adjacent of Chas' plot is the plot of his brother, Tracy.

Tracy, his wife and also spinster daughter are buried there with a different style but equally as extravagant gravestone.

What does the burial have to do with the marriage? Not a lot, honestly. BUT- I think it speaks to the camaraderie between the brothers; that they wanted to be neighbors in both life and death. I don't read anything into the brothers not being buried on their father's large plot. There were other people buried on H.H.'s plot that weren't Hickman by name- probably Hickman by blood, though.

I started writing this blog to show the marriage certificate between the Blanche and Charles:


Check. Marriage certificate shown.

Edwin Weed was the rector and makes me wonder if Weed Street, over on the other side of town is named after this guy. But, no, I'm not jumping down that rabbit hole. Let me know what you find out. I've got my own rabbit hole over here.


Speaking of holes...



These are the graves on H.H. Hickman's plot:

There are Harpers, Waltons, Whatleys, Morris, and- of course- Hickmans. I don't know who these people are or if they are even consequential in this moment.






Close up of grave above. This is the daughter of HH and Sarah, dying ... I think at about 5 years old.
Hard to tell.





And these are the graves on Tracy I. Hickman's plot:

Anna, wife of Tracy
Ellen, daughter of Tracy
Tracy... self.




And these are the graves on Dr. Charles W Hickman's plot:




In all this, I thought I would feel sorry for Gladys, Chas' daughter. I can't imagine what it would be like to have your father ripped from you so suddenly. But, isn't death always sudden? As I dig, the less sympathetic I feel towards Gladys- not like a loathing- but, children are supposed to bury their parents, not the other way around. No, the one I really hurt for is Blanche. She lived until she was in her 80s, burying both her husband and then her daughter. Her existence as a widow extended for 34 years, 7 of those surviving after she buried her daughter. Not to mention, that she buried her brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and niece ... all before she buried herself.

Now, here's something both creepy and interesting. Probably more creepy than interesting. Check this out. Don't worry, no dead bodies. BUT, it could absolutely lead to some accidental crypt removals. 

"The location of the record book is unknown or if it even exists..." At some point, the perpetual care money disappeared and, along with it, the sexton records for the cemetery. One of the finest things my crazy, corrupt city did was take over the care of this cemetery years ago.

What's a sexton record? Excellent question:

All the plots that are sold, available, empty, unmarked, paid for, etc are part of the sexton record. Let that sink in for a minute. Every time they open a grave, they are making a HUGE assumption that it is, well, empty. Otherwise, they're picking up someone's Great Great Dead Aunt Irene accidentally. 

"Sorry Aunt Irene, Let me... just... yeah, ok. Tuck you back in there, where'd your hand go? There it is..... GUYS! We're gonna need another plot!"







Saturday, June 24, 2017

Hickman Marriage

Dr Charles W Hickman and Miss Blanche G. Walton were married on a Wednesday afternoon at the Church of the Good Shepherd-- allow me to quote:

....The scene of a beautiful ceremony in which the society of that elegant suburb was considerably interested and which furnished a pleasing episode to the midsummer record. At six o'clock that beautiful churched commenced to fill with white dresses and black coats and to brighten with expectation, while the suggestive sweep of vehicles around the carriage walk anticipated the happy tendency of the evening's service. The church lamps burned low in the twilight and sweet music stole softly through the aisles, wound among the flowers and seemed to form wavelets about the marriage bell. At half past six the bridal party entered the church....

The ushers and bridesmaids have names I see again and again in the newspaper: Mr. Willet, Mr. Berckmans, Mr. Gibson, and Mr. Stovall; Miss Turpin, Miss Walton, Miss Cuthbert, Miss Walton, Miss Adams, and Miss Connelly.

...Two dainty little ladies of honor, Miss Margie Wood and Miss Sarah Harper who held open the floral gates while Mr. Thomas C. Walton escorted the bride, his sister, Miss Blanche G. Walton to the altar. There they were met by the groom, Dr. C.W. Hickman, who was with his brother, Mr. Tracy I. Hickman, was standing ready to receive them...

...The picture of the fair young girls kneeling about the altar where the path of the maiden had merged into the life of the wife was touching and suggestive....

Hold the phone. I am quoting excerpts from the newspaper announcement of their wedding and they have used the word "suggestive" twice. TWICE! Once in regards to fair young girls kneeling-- seriously?! I digress...

A reception was held at her parent's house, near Summerville.

... The daughter of Mr. Robert Walton, and is a charming and accomplished representative of one of the oldest an best families of the State. She is the favorite of her relatives and friends, and unites many graces of person and disposition to bright qualities of mind and heart. Few young ladies in our midst have as many friends...

Yo. Whoever wrote this really like Blanche.

...Dr. Hickman is a useful and particularly gifted member of the medical profession in Augusta. He is a graduate of one of the best medical schools of Germany, and is an acknowledged authority upon the specialities of his practice in which he has been so singularly successful in Augusta. He is a genial, popular gentleman and deserves the success and happiness which his position and recent good fortune will command for him...

Two thoughts: (1) the person writing this has no idea what kind of doctor Dr. Hickman is. (2) The author likes Blanche more than Charles.

Maybe three thoughts:

(3) Has anyone else ever read old wedding announcements? They crack me up. Sometimes, I wonder what was written about the really mean people that get married. Of course not every person who married way back when was "gracious" or "lovely," some of those women had to be just plain brats. Who did Mama bribe to say "congenial" or that they were "the most popular of the social youth."

My other thought about old wedding announcements: What was said of those that, ahem, had to get married due to a dalliance. "Mary and John met at the Officer's Club about eight weeks ago and it was love at first sight... literally. Mary wore a loose fitting gauzy white A-line off-shoulder and carried her flowers low..."

Wrapping up:

...The bridal party left last evening for Old Point, Virginia, and other resorts of the old Dominion, where they will spend the summer.

Chas and "Honey" as her friends called her were married July 18, 1883. Pause: Can we take a moment and talk about how HOT that church would have been come about 7pm? Average highs in July crest 90+. Unpause.

These two crazy kids were not kids by the standards of 1883; she was practically a spinster with her 26 years of life under her belt. Chas was 31. I am allowed to say things like "spinster" because I, too, was 26 years into my life when Husband and I were married. A year later, their only child that would see adulthood would be conceived on their anniversary and born the 18th of April, 1885.

.......

I started to write more about the Hickman couple, but am digging too deep in their past right now and don't want to be hurried and leave things out.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Playing Clue

For Birdie's birthday, a friend gave her the travel size game of "Clue." She loves to play it at night with Bennie and the 'rents. Of course, a parent has to help Bennie who is pretty much clueless {pun not intended}, but she enjoys participating and Fuzzy loves running in circles around the coffee table and making quite a mess of things. Husband and I lose patience with Fuzzy but try to be active participants in the game without cheating. Ya know, like looking at those cards the kids have flipped up or the ones they show us when they are asking questions about Colonel Mustard and if his favorite condiment is ketchup.

It's not, we have decided. He likes honey mustard.

In addition to playing Clue, I have been listening to Unsolved Murders, a podcast about, well.... unsolved murders. Let's combine this podcast and Clue playing with my research loving historically inclined self.

A few days ago I was digging through the archives of the hometown newspaper. This is one of my favorite pastimes and I enjoy seeing how things evolve. As I gather an understanding of people from long ago, it becomes clearer why I see their names on buildings and land parcels that they donated to the city. It's hard to be in Hometown and not hear the meaningless names of the Waltons, the Hickmans, Berckmans, Stearns, Reynolds, and the Phinizys; to realize that these were people. These were families- boys and girls who became men and women and had children of their own.

Many of these prominent families remain within the city limits five generations later.

I digress.

So, a few days ago- I was digging through the archives looking for.... something... I can't remember now. And, BOY- did I get sidetracked. We were watching TV and I told Husband, "Be right back, I just need to print this off..." an hour and a half later, Husband comes around the corner, "Ya mad at me?"

NO! Why?

You've been in here... for a while.

I look up and realize that, yes.... yes I have.

Y'all. I am down the deep end of Turbo Nerd. There was a murder in 1910 and I am fascinated about it. 

It's getting to be an obsession and kinda embarrassing. My friend, Katie, asks me all the time-- How do you have time to research a, ahem, murder from 1910?"

I give the kids iPads and close the door, duh.

Kidding. It's nap time and I adore nap time.

As I have a lull in my home record research, I continue to fall down the rabbit hole, looking for clues in the newspapers and wondering where I can garner more information about this case? this story? this murder? this.... whatever this is, because- to me... this is fascinating.

Heads up, spoiler alert: early in my research, I don't think he did it.

"Who did WHAT?" you're probably asking.

Before I say that, I need to disclaimer something: Negro is not a word in my repertoire. There are other words out there that I don't say that start with "N" and I put both of these words in the same derogatory category that should go the way of spoken Latin- seen and known, but not said. They are just... mean. I say that to say this: I am going to tell the story of Dr. Hickman as I learn it and am going to share quotes from the archives. There are many words used back in 1910 that people in polite society don't say today, thankyaJesus.

Disclaimer aside:

I don't think the {negro} [sic] killed the prominent and illustrious Dr. Charles W. Hickman as he walked down the sidewalk of Sand Hills/Summerville back in February 1910.

PSHEW. I said it. Who knows, maybe I'll eat my words and learn that my initial reaction was wrong and the man did kill Dr. Hickman. We shall see.

The header that caught my attention:

DR. CHARLES W. HICKMAN MUDERED AND ROBBED IN SUMMERVILLE LAST NIGHT

One of the Most Prominent Physicians and Most Beloved of Augustans Victim of Bullet of Ambushed Assassin.

It kinda grips you, right? Who is this guy? What makes him so prominent? Clearly, this is who Hickman Park is named after.

Truth Moment: The park is older than the man. Mental note: find out more about Hickman Park when I finish this.

see that "est. c. 1859"... that means it was established 51 years before Dr. Hickman died


The names that occur in the story are family members of kids I grew up with. The locations are places I went and played at or in when we were kids. Maybe that is part of why it is a story I found and I find interesting. Hang tight with this history nerd for a few more blogs. If it gets boring [to me], I'll stop.

Give me insight and places to dig!

Put a pin in this. Got some kids starting to wake up.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Aces

These past few days {read: weeks} I feel like motherhood isn't my strong suit. I get mad at a lot of things that normally shouldn't bother me. Or, I look around and see my children chasing each other in the grocery store and want those little ducklings lined up behind Mama Duck and be good. Not because the running bothers me, rather- they look like they are being bad. I was rubbing my temples while the chasing was going on and the butcher said, "Hey! .... Hey! .... HEY! You!"

I turn around.

"Take two aspirin and call me in the morning. I see you rubbing your temples."

I didn't know if he was trying to be funny or to tell me that I needed two aspirin. The kids kept running and I collared the first one as she made the next lap around the bread island. I asked the baker for three children's cookies. He looked over my shoulder, "It looks like you need three children's cookies."

What's my deal today? Is he being funny or telling me that the cookies will shut my kids up for five minutes?

Rewind an hour and we are at Chick-Fil-A. Shocking, I know. I look into the playroom and Bennie has another four year old by the collar of his shirt, holding him down. The other four year old has fifteen pounds and four inches on her... and she was pinning him down while he screamed.

"BUT MAH-MEE, He took Birdie's Fidget Spinnnnnner!"

"I don't care what he did, you don't do that!"

The sweet little boy pipes up to his mother, "They told me they aren't my friends," and then Fuzzy whacks him over the head. I kid you not, as if on cue- whacked the kid twice his size over the head. And he, rightfully, cried.

Friendly Friends Have Friends. Friendly Friends Have Friends. How many times can I say this before they get it?

The mother and I introduced ourselves and discovered that our kids are on the same swim team and members of the same pool. Awesome, she'll get to see my imps again soon.

Minutes later, another mother is in the playground area and she looks a little... distressed. I walk in and I hear her talking to her almost two year old. Turns out, my imps drug her son into the depths of playground hell- the car six feet off the ground that no mother can reach. Granted, he wasn't crying- but, this first time mother did not like the fact that my three Sirens sung him into no-man's-land.

Another kid cries, Fuzzy whacked him, too.

ALL CAGLE KIDS GET SHOES. IT IS TIME TO GO. NOW!

The First Time Child and First Time Mother were left to their own devices as my flying monkeys made their way to the shoe cubbies.

Rewind another hour and Fuzzy is in my bed, eating a granola bar. Unbeknownst to me, the chocolate of the granola bar has melted and he has smeared it all over my white sheets. It's chocolate. I checked.

When did I start falling apart in regards to my children? When did I stop being able to handle three? Where did my ducklings go that stayed in a straight line behind me?

What is going on?

Patience: shot. Humor: toast. Aggravation: through the roof.

It is summer, after all. Better still, we are first time swim-team-ers. Swim team,  I have learned, is not for second rate parents or parents of more than one child. Swim team is parental hazing and deserves a blog in and of itself. Suffice it to say, the only reason we are doing it is because Birdie enjoys it and I want her to be as strong of a swimmer as she can be. Kids need to know how to swim. Teenagers need to know how to drive a five speed. Adults need to know when to call a cab. These are basics in life.

We had a swim meet last night. My mom has to keep the little two for a swim meet because (a) they last a very long time- going until almost 11pm (b) it's a pool they can't swim in (c) it's crowded (d) someone will surely die from thirst or hunger or whining about thirst and hunger. It's the saving grace of the swim meet-- mom keeping the little two. I will save all my antics for a funnier blog on a funnier day when I am feeling.... funnier.

Currently, I am listening to Birdie and Bennie talking about "cock-roa-CHES!"

"Fuzzy can eat a cockroach."
"YEAH! Fuzzy likes to eat cockroaches."
"Do you think that cockroach is alive?"
"Fuhhhhh-zeee..... come hereeeee."

Where's that emoji of the big-eyed-yellowed-face when you need it?

My very polished friend who wears kid gloves and hats to teas with engraved calling cards once told me, "There is nothing more appropriate than a well placed "EFF" bomb."

It must be like a sterling serving piece- if it isn't perfect, then it isn't worth it.

Unlike Children- they keep us humble.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

A little for the History Fanatics.

Something that has fascinated me of recent is the history of our new home. A few weeks ago, someone bought a house up the street that needs a "hug" as my neighbor calls it. It doesn't just need a hug, it needs CPR. As we were speculating who bought the house before it went on the market, I started researching the life-support home to see what I could find out.


You know what I found out?

House Be Haunted.

It has to be. Okay, so it doesn't have to be- but I have two words for you: Indian Graveyard.

Right, right, right... political correctness and all: Native American Place of Eternal Rest.

I am exaggerating. At least, I think I am.

sidenote: the people buying the house are going to do an awesome job restoring it and I cannot wait to see what will happen when they breath life into the walls. 

When I was a kid, there were two homes next to each other in my old neighborhood that my dad swore were built on a Indian Native American Place of Eternal Rest. In the span of about 15 years, there was a murder, a burglary, a freak chemical fire that pillaged the whole house, a murder-suicide, and plenty of dead grass to make the neighbors shake their heads in shame. Let's throw in some black cats for good measure. We didn't ride our bikes on that street and said Hail Mary's when we drove by them. Forget Halloween.

Native. American. Place. Of. Eternal. Rest.

I digress.

So, I started doing research on what will be the jewel of the street and realized that I could do the same thing for my house.

Heyyyyy, New Hobby! I love hobbies!

Heads up-- my street has been spelled four different ways that I can find so far. Oh, and I had to actually write down what a "grantor" and "grantee" are-- I kept getting them mixed up.


I have been down to the courthouse and rummaged through deeds, loan paperwork, plats, and old boxes that have yet to be organized. I've been glued to the newspaper archives and am constantly jumping down a new rabbit hole to see what I can uncover about this place we call home.

I even found old fire insurance maps to see how the buildings were on the property at different points in time.

I've learned a few things about my home and about my town. First things first, while some parts of the courthouse keep awesome records and are incredibly organized.... other parts do NOT. For instance, I went to the building permits department and have been informed by two parties there that they have no records prior to 1999 as they were destroyed in a flood.

Really?

Why does this make me think that someone doesn't want to start organizing those nasty boxes that have bugs crawling through them? (said the girl that screamed today when she saw a worm)

While we are not the fifth family to live in this house, we are the fifth owners. This house was built on a 1/6 of "Block D." Sometime after Mary Biggar Andrews purchased the grounds, she cut the large lot in half, splitting the other half into thirds- selling those pieces with homes being built around 1931.


Her husband, William Andrews, died in September 1930. His death certificate has him living on Walton Way at "Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe" which he opened about a year prior. Ye Curiosity Shoppe is long gone, replaced with the parking lot of a bakery.... that has since been torn down.

In doing research on a home, you have to do research on the families that lived here. Mr. and Mrs. Andrews were married in January, 1910- the location of the wedding moved from St. Paul's church downtown to the home of her mother due to a death in the groom's family. The bride looked striking in a taffeta suit and the home was beautifully decorated with ferns. Ferns? Taffeta? Oiye.


Mrs. Andrews bought the property in her own name on April 5, 1915. Today, it is nothing for a wife to buy a home in her own name.... but 102 years ago? Different story. Why'd she buy the house and not her husband? Speaking of different stories, she bought the property for $2,000.

Nerd Alert: $2,000 in 1915 is equal to $48,420 in 2017. That's a 2,321.0% inflation rate.

Construction must have started promptly because I find an advertisement in August, 1915 that says:



What the who? The home is not even finished and he is trying to rent it out. I wonder about this fella'. 

--  I feel compelled to pronounce it "ad-vertis-ment" and not "ad-ver-ties-ment"-- the "ad-vertis-ment"

I don't know what happened between August, 1915 and June, 1920- but I can tell you what happened in June 1920. His dad died. How do I know?


In case you can't read it, how about I give you the gist? 

(1) Dad was visiting his son. 
(2) His passing was a shock. 
(3) He had not seemed ill. Before retiring to bed, he spoke of not feeling well.
(4) "The sound of difficult breathing waked a member of the family who went to him at once and saw that he was unconscious."  
(4a) ummmm..... creepy.
(5) The doctor was summoned.
(6) Upon examination: life was declared extinct.

"Mr. Andrews was a Christian gentleman of the old school, a life long and devoted...[lots of words] ....seven sons and four daughters...."

Can you imagine what "old school" must have meant in 1920?!

Looking up and down the street, I find Mrs. Andrews mother and sisters living a few doors down, sharing a home. Her sister, Roberta, worked in various capacities at the Tuttle-Newton Home before spending 29 years as superintendent. Tuttle-Newton was an orphanage way back when. Roberta was said to be a pioneer of welfare and charity work. Cool fact about Roberta: though never married, she adopted a daughter, Margaret Elizabeth.



Throughout the years, I see the home described as:

- An attractive home, living, dining, pantry, kitchen, three bedrooms, bath, sleeping porch upstairs, garage, nice large lot

- 8 rooms, 2 baths

- The William Andrews Home -- it was called "The William Andrews Home" I know this because there was a blurb in the social column that Mr and Mrs  John R Palmer have leased the William Andrews Home in January 1930. We can fast forward 18 months and see that the Palmers are gone and Mrs. Andrews has returned to the home.

- 7 rooms, bath, garage, servant's house and toilet in yard {Mental note: let's not go digging around in the backyard}

... The garage is long since gone. In its place is an oak hydrangea and the fort that Husband built the kids on Mother's Day. The servant's house is still there. It's a shed now. No word on the toilet in the yard, but I will say-- there is a patch of yard in the back right corner where nothing dies and it stays green year round.

Enough for now, there's plenty more to say, but that's another day.