James H. Hickman, Mayor of Owensboro and one of the most influential citizens of that city, son of Dr. William A. and Burnette (Barbour) Hickman, was born in Bardstown, Kentucky, March 17, 1852. He was educated in St. Joseph College at Bardstown and in the University of Illinois; and, after completing his literary course, studied medicine and attended the medical department of the University of Louisville, from which he graduated in 1875. For five years following he was associated with his father in the practice of medicine, but abandoned his profession in 1880 to engage in the tobacco business with F. J. Clarke, under the firm name of Clarke & Hickman. This partnership continued until 1883, when Dr. Hickman was elected president of the Owensboro Wagon Company—one of the most successful manufacturing enterprises in that city—a position which he still retains. He is vice president of the First National Bank and has other investments and business interests, but has given especial attention to the management of the affairs of the Wagon Company.
After serving the public for several years as trustee of the School Board and as a member of the City Council, he was elected mayor of the city in 1890, and has been twice re-elected—in 1892 and 1894.
A man of superior business ability, of unswerving integrity, of genial, courteous demeanor, he is at once the exacting man of business and the generous friend of all who have dealings or intercourse with him. Nor is his popularity confined to party lines, for while he is a Democrat when it comes to a vote or a political contest, he knows no party in the discharge of his official duty, enjoying the confidence and respect of men of all parties.
He is a member of the principal benevolent orders, including Knights Templar, Knights of Pythias, Elks, Royal Arcanum and Knights of the Ancient Essenic Order, and is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Dr. Hickman was married October 1, 1877, to Adele PI. Jackson, daughter of James S. and Sue (Hawes) Jackson. She was a native of Masonville, Daviess County, Kentucky. She died leaving three children, Virginia, Christopher and William.
Dr. William A. Hickman (father) was born in Shelbyville, Kentucky, October 26, 1816. He removed with his father to Sangamon County, Illinois, in 1833, where he remained four years, when he returned to Shelbyville and began the study of medicine.
In 1840 he entered the medical department of the University of Louisville, from which he graduated in 1842, and began the practice of medicine in Shelbyville. Finding, however, that his practice would probably conflict with his old friend and preceptor. Dr. G. W. Nuckols, he removed to Bardstown in 1840, where he was a leading physician for twenty-five years, when he turned over his lucrative practice to his brother, Dr. J. F. Hickman, and removed to Owensboro in 1865 and practiced medicine in that city and vicinity for another quarter of a century, when he went to Springfield, Illinois, to reside with his daughter, Mrs. James P. Radcliff. He practiced medicine there for a few years and then engaged in the drug business, in which he continued until his death, December 20, 1894.
Dr. Hickman was actively engaged in the practice of his profession for more than fifty years, and was a conspicuous figure in the communities in which he lived, a man of superior intellect, kind hearted and benevolent, with a good word for everyone, and his reputation as a physician was of the highest character.
He was the leading spirit in establishing the first railroad at Owensboro, and was the first president of the road. He was an active member of the Methodist Church for over sixty years, during which time he was an exemplary Christian gentleman.
Dr. W. A. Hickman was married (first) in 1844 at Bardstown to Burnette Barbour, daughter of William and Jane Barbour. She was born in Virginia in 1827, and died in Bardstown in 1853. Her parents having died when she was quite young, she made her home with her uncle, Ben Hardin of Bardstown. She was educated in Dr. Atkinson’s school in Bardstown, and was a very highly accomplished member of the distinguished Barbour and Hardin families. Ben Hardin married Betsy Barbour, a sister of William Barbour.
William Hickman (grandfather) was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1790; removed to Sangamon County, Illinois, in 1833; then went to Springfield, Illinois, where he died in 1874. He married Mary E. Cardwell at Shelbyville, Kentucky, in 1813, and she’ died in Springfield, Illinois, in 1833. William Hickman was a merchant in Springfield and several times a member of the legislature. His father was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, and was present at the siege of Yorktown, and was one of the guards appointed by General Washington to take Cornwallis to Richmond.
Source: Biographical Cyclopedia of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. John M. Gresham Company, Chicago, Philadelphia, 1896.