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Marlene Hickman's notes on William Albert Hickman

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  • Title Marlene Hickman's notes on William Albert Hickman 
    Short Title Marlene Hickman's WA Hickman notes 
    Author Marlene Tingley Hickman 
    Source ID S1459 
    Text Excerpt from an email from Marlene Hickman to John Howell and Allison Church Bird dated 1 April 2007

    The following are my notes about her son, William Albert Hickman...

    His father died when Wm Albert was about 1 years old.  His mother did not remarry until he was about 14 years old.  He is listed with his mother in the 1881 Census at age 3 in his maternal grandfather's household (William Wilson).  In the 1891 Census he is listed in his paternal uncle John Hickman's household with his mother.  In 1893 his mother married entrepreneur D H Purves of Pictou, NS.

    September 11, 1897 - The Spectator - "W A Hickman, [Wm Albert] son of the late A J Hickman, [Albert Jay] who has been studying zoology in the Scentific department of Harvard University during the last year is now in Dorchester visiting J H Hickman.  Mr. Hickman on account of the advanced character of the work in Pictou Academy where he was working previous to entering Harvard was allowed to enter on third year work in the university, which he has completed.  Mr Hickman has spent part of the summer with R W Gelder, the Editor of the Century at his summer home near Lexon and later has been working with Alexander Agassiz at this laboratory in Newport."

    September 25, 1897 - The Spectator- "W A Hickman of Pictou who was enroute to Cambridge where he will resume his studies in natural science at Harvard spent Friday with friends in the Shiretown."

    January 1, 1898 - The Spectator - "W A Hickman of Harvard is spending his vacation with friends in Dorchester."

    William Albert was remembered in the wills of both is paternal grandparents - Joseph left him $3000 and Ruth Hickman left him $700 for his education to be held in trust by his Aunt Ellen Douglas.

    "The Sacrifice of the Shannon"  was his only full length novel, originally  published in 1903 by Frederick A Stokes, New York.  Other works included:  (ref:
    - Handbook of New Brunswick (1900)
    - The Canadian West and Northwest (1903)
    - An Unofficial Love Story (1909)
    - Canadian Nights (1914)

    Excerpted from the introduction by Ian Johnston, in the 2001Formac Publishing  reprinted version  of  "Sacrifice of the Shannon": 
    "Hickman was educated at Pictou Academy and entered Harvard Universtiy in 1896 where he earned a BS in Marine Engineering.  A talented and, in many ways, remarkable young man, he took up sculling.  When he was in England, a few years after graduation, he was proud to report that he participated in the Diamonds Scull at Henley-on-Thames, where he was defeated by none other than Harry Blackstaffe, Olympic Champion fro Great Breton in 1908.
    This novel is dedicated to Hon Clarence Primrose, Member of the Senate of Canada - the author's relative.  Family connections were important to young men like Albert Hickman, and in 1899, aged 21 and fresh out of Harvard, he was appointed Commissioner for the Province of New Brunswick.  Stationed in London, he wrote articles and gave illustrated lectures to stimulate interest in immigration to the province, especially for the purposes of farming.  His success at this work led to a similar appointment from the federal government, which took him into parts of central and western Canada to observe the areas being opened up for farming in Manitoba and Ontario.
    Hickman's interests and lifestyle were entirely appropriate for a nineteenth-century gentleman with a twentieth-century mindset;  he was a sportsman who enjoyed hunting and fishing; he played tennis and was most likely proficient at winter sports. When travelling he stayed in the best hotels, and in Montreal, New York and London he belonged to suitable social and athletic clubs.  He had a keen interest in natural sciences - botany and zoology - and a fascination of engines.  He experimented with cutting-edge technology in marine craft, developing the Viper speedboat in 1906.  He developed cigar-shaped, high-speed motor boats and a motorized sea-sled that rode on the water using a surface, not a submerged, propeller.   In 1914 he tried to interest the British Admiralty in the sea-sled's application for carrying and discharging torpedoes.  He did not make any breakthrough until late in the war, and at the same time, the United States navy adopted the sea-sled for aircraft tenders.  In 1920 he moved to the States and established two firms for the design and construction of motorboats, and set world speed records racing sea-sleds on the Great Lakes.
      Coming from a privileged, wealthy family meant that as a young man Hickman moved around quite freely, spending time in Montreal and in the fashionable resort of St Agathe-des-Monts, returning to Pictou periodically, as well as to Saint John and Dorchester, NB.  In most of these places he visited relatives and family friends.  He took up writing as a profession during a two year-period of convalescence that began in 1903.  For subject matter he took places and people that were familar - Pictou and the ship owning and shipbuilding elite......
    In a 25th anniversary Harvard alumnus report Hickman lists his occupations as "Literature, Manufacturing."  In spite of the popularity of his novel, his literary life did not develop and grow with the same impetus from which it started.  He published short novels and magazine articles, and contributed fiction and marine sport articles to the "Century" and the "American Magazine".  Two of his stories appeared in the "Canadian Magazine" and others appeared in "Scribners".  In 1914, a single volume entitled "Canadian Nights" appeared which comprised three short novels and four short stories.  Both "An Unofficial Love Story" and "The Cockawee" illustrate Hickman's innovation in bringing technology into fiction.
    Hickman died in Massachusetts in 1957.  He was survived by his mother who was 103 years old at the time..."  His mother died shortly after Wm. Albert.

    Other references to his Sea Sled are found at <>

    Scientific American September 26, 1914: "Invented the Hickman Sea Sled - A new type of vessel, which promises to revolutionize water craft and which takes the same place on the water that the automobile does on land."

    Excerpted from Saint Mary's University online Archive info (The records were transferred form the Saint Mary's History Department to the St Mary's University Archives in 2001.  They are divided into the following series:  Series 1: Personal Correspondence; Series 2: New Brunswick Government Commissioner Records; Series 3: Speedboats - textual records; Series 4: Photographs of boats; Series 5: Business Correspondence; Series 6:  W. A. Hickman - general records; Series 7: Photographs; Series 8: Purves Family records):
    After his mother married David H Purves the family relocated to his home in Pictou.  WA attended the Pictou Academy from 1893 to 1896 after which he attended the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard University in Cambridge Mass. As a student he spent his summers working at the Alexander Agassic Institute in Newport.  A sculler for the Harvard crew team, he would also later row with the Diamond Skulls at Henely-on Thames in England.  Upon graduating from Harvard with a S.B cum laude in June of 1899, WA obtained the position of "Agent General for New Brunswick" or "New Brunswick Government Commissioner" and was stationed in London, England.  In 1903, Hickman had finished working for the New Brunswick government and undertook work for the Dominion of Canada in presenting lectures on New Brunswick throughout Great Britain.  After delivering approximately seventy-five lectures, WA returned to Pictou and conducted extensive research into people and landscapes of western Canada.  This research was published in the form of a paper, entitled The Canadian West and Northwest and was published by the Royal Canadian Institute in January of 1903.  Hickman's novel, The Sacrifice of the Shannon, published by the Frederick A Stokes Company of New York in 1903, told the story of a sea rescue in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  While living in Pictou, Hickman established his "Viper Company Limited" and patented designs for speedboats.

    An excerpt from an e-mail from Paul Foss, grandson of Dorothy Foss - W. A. Hickman married Esther Foss, daughter of ex-Governor Foss of Massachusetts on the 10 October 1914.  (See notes on Marriage to Dorothy Chapman Foss...)

    "WAH's first contact with the Foss Family was as a result fo seeing an advertisement for the Sturtevant Aeroplan Company while attending a boat show in New York.  He subsequently meet Noble Foss, then President of SAC, a subsidiary of the B F Sturtevant Company of Hyde Park, MA.  The two met later in New London to attempt to install a SAC aeroplane engine in one of WAH's boats.  Evidently the experiment didn't work.  However WAH was introduced to the Foss famly and eventually married Esther (1914), Noble's sister.  Both Noble and brother Ben attended Harvard - 1908 & 1910.  (Ben completed a Masters degree in Economics in 1909 but Noble dropped out of Harvard after his first year to travel the SW and around the world.  During this time he discovered airplane R&D taking place in France). Noble who was a capable entrepreneur must have seen the possiblity of adding air power to speed boats and the possibility of an expanded market for SAC engines or even a speedboat product line.  WAH no doubt saw the advantages of an alliance with owner-managers of the BF Sturtevant Company, a major regional diversified manufacturing line with strong political connections in the Northeast and in Washington."

    WAH divorced Esther and  married Dorothy Chapman of California on the 18 March 1922.  Their were no children from their marriage.  As a result of the divorce Dorothy lost custody of her four young children - Eugene, Benjamin, Dora and Barbara, ages 2-9 approx. WAH and Dorothy were married only 9 years when Dorothy,age 42, died in 1931, of an embolism following minor surgery.  From Dora Foss Mann's email - "He disappeared after my mother's death and we never received any of her possessions and jewelry."

    There is no record that William remarried or had any children.  His mother, age 103, died shortly after WAH in 1957.  Dorothy and William were both  buried in Lot 8 Section 9 Grove Street Cemetery in New London, Conn.

    And the following is the information I have about Ellen's first husband Albert J.-

    February 1866 Albert J wrote a fond letter to his brother Thomas aboard the Barque Fanny Atkinson c/o Nevers & Sons, New York.  Although he would have been only 17 years old at the time the letter was written, his passion for politics was clear in the long paragraphs he devoted to that subject, describing the political atmosphere in both Dorchester and the rest of the country during that  pre-confederation era.  He also described social life in Dorchester, including his cousin Sara Jane's wedding and the Temperance movement in Dorchester:  "Dorchester has been very gay this winter - Bridges, this Wedding Party and supper, there have been parties at Chandler's, Dr Wilson's, Palmer's, Aunt Julia's to all of which Annie and I attended.  But to speak of the Templars, we have a lodge here of that Temperance Organization to which all hands of us belong.  It serves a very good cloke and we can even drink as much as we please.  Wilson belongs and he never stopped drinking a minute; however I will tell you all about this - the jolly good times we have had this winter when you get home. .......I have been to Sackville some two or three times this winter and enjoyed myself first rate each time.  In fact I don't believe I remember having had a much better time than I have this winter and I have often wished that you were here to enjoy it. "

    Chignecto Post June 22, 1871 - "A J Hickman Esq was enrolled as a Barrister at Fredericton on the 15th.  We congratulate him and hope with renewed health he will be enabled to fulfill the high hopes entertained of him in his profession." 

    Joseph A. Harris, son of late M S Harris, received his education at Mount Allison Academy, Sackville, and Liverpool College Institute, England.  In 1872 he began the study of law as a student with the late Albert J Hickman, in Dorchester and shortly afterwards entered the office of Hon John Fraser, QC. - Daily Sun - 3 Sept 1892

    Chignecto  Post - August 10, 1876 - "Albert J Hickman and Joseph Howe Dickson of Westmorland Co have been appointed Notaries Public."

    November 8, 1877 - Chignecto Post
    An ad placed in this issue:  "Hickman & Emmerson & C,  Attorneys at Law, Dorchester NB.  A J Hickman   H R Emmerson."

    Daily Telegraph - 14 March 1879 - d Dorchester 13th ins Albert J Hickman, Barrister, 31st yr. Funeral Sat 4 o'clock. (#1873)

    Chignecto Post  - 20 March 1879 - The funeral of Mr. Hickman took place at Dorchester on Saturday.  Over twenty barristers with the Judge and Clerk of the County preceeded the procession to the grave.  Burial Services read by Rev Simonds.  (#1307)

    Grave stone in Dorchester Cemetery reads:
    "Albert J Hickman died March 13, 1879, age 30 yrs"
    Linked to William Albert Hickman