Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dr. C.W. Hickman Laid at Rest

In an article dated February 5th, 1910:

Dr. C.W. Hickman Laid at Rest

Funeral Exercises at Church of Good Shepherd-- Touching Tribute to Beloved Dead.

The saddest funeral ever witnessed in Augusta was the yesterday afternoon of Dr. Charles W. Hickman; and never in the history of the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd was so large a crowd gathered to pay tribute to the beloved dead. Every pew in the church was filled to its full capacity; chairs were placed in the aisles and still many people were compelled to remain standing as there was no room to seat them. Even the belfry space was closely packed with sorrowing friends who wished to dignify their grief in the last and only possible manner.

Long before the appointed hour groups of quiet men and women entered the dim church and sadly took their seats; loving hands in silence brought in the beautiful flowers, placing them about the altar space. There were so many that there was scare room to place them without marring their freshness; and their beauty and sweetness intensified by contrast the atmosphere of heavy grief that lay like a palpable influence over the church.

The deep stillness was broken by the slow sound of the minister's voice as he recited the Episcopal service of the dead. The minister, the Rev. William Johnson, preceded the funeral procession up the long aisle of the church; and following him came the honorary pall-bearers, Dr. W.H. Doughty, Judge William F. Eve, Dr. W.H. Harrison, Dr. Thomas R. Wright, Dr. G.A. Wilcox, Dr. J.E. Bransford, General Alfred Cumming, Major Cumming, Major W.E. McCoy, Mr. Paul H. Langdon Sr., Mr. J.W. Dickey, and Mr. Fred Cuthbert.

As the organ sent forth the solemn notes of the funeral dirge the casket borne up the aisle by Mr. L.A. Berckmans, Mr. E.S. Johnson, Mr. George R. Sterns, Dr. L.W. Fargo, Mr. Paul Langdon Jr., and Mr. John M. Adams; and by their tender, reverent hands was placed in the midst of the fragrant flowers.

The casket was literally covered with a pall of blossoms, for white carnations, roses, sweet peas, lilies-of-the-valley, ferns and soft pink carnations drooped like a richly embroidered veil over the coffin's blackness, hiding all but the dull silver handles. To many present the magnificently beautiful covering suggested a thought of the light and flory of the life eternal into whose brightness the immortal Christian spirit had passed from the darkness of his tragic mortal death, and as the sorrowful music filled the church the tears gathered in many eyes and dropped slowly, one by one, while the minister read the prayers for the dead.

At the close of his service the choir sang, "Abide with Me," and their voices were tremendous with deep grieving that was beyond control. As the sad cortege passed from the church all remained standing until the music ceased. Then all went to the cemetery.

The long line of carriages was equalled by the two long processionals of people the passed along the street on either side; and at the cemetery everyone who had been at the church was gathered in a circle about the open grave.

The Rev. William Johnson read the burial service for the dead and at the conclusion the Rev. Ashby Jones in a low voice, that yet was distinctly audible, in the quiet City of the Dead, made a short and beautiful prayer. Then, as the last rays of the descending sun flooded the western skies with glory, a flat covering of flowers was laid over the gentle physician's last resting place, and pale-faced women began to place the innumerable offerings to the dead.

When the sorrowful work was finished the flowers lay on the winter gross for several feet on all sides of the grave. Among the many handsome pieces was a great "Gates Ajar," surrounded by a white dove with outspread wings- the offering of the Graniteville Manufacturing Company; and another was a severe wreath of dark palm leaves raised on a stand. The straight and sombre lines of the wreath were lightened by a great cluster of pink carnations caught with tulle and at the base of the stand were the words, "The Graniteville Band." Another tribute was a large sheaf of waxen calla lilies bound with tulle on which in gold letters were the words, "Our Friend." The other tributes represented every phase of the city's population, and never have such magnificent flowers been seen at any grave.

Gates Ajar floral arrangement
popular at the time, but can we just say-- CREEPY?!?

A noticeable feature at the cemetery was the large group of colored people, who stood in a cluster to one side, their faces saddened and their heads bowed.

Yesterday morning the colored nurses went in a body to the Hickman home to express their respectful grief; and their faces were lengthened by sorrow and the eyes of many were reddened.

Never were a man's characteristics, universal kindness, humane charity,and splendid standing so plainly evidenced as in the grief of the varied crowd that stood about the grave of Dr. Charles W. Hickman yesterday afternoon in Summerville Cemetery.

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