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.

1 comment:

Dorothy Kernaghan-Baez said...

Oh Em Gee. I would say this was a page turner, but it's a blog and I'm reading it on my phone....this is fascinating!