William Adams Hickman.
1857 Mormon War 1858
From the Hickman web-site by Steve Richardson
Letters of Capt. Jesse A. Gove, 10th Infantry, U.S.A.,
Our whole train is 9 miles long. It takes about 6 companies to guard it. I wish you could see the train as it moves along. Two Mormon spies were taken in camp yesterday by the 5th Inf. They are two brothers Hickman, brothers to the celebrated Bill Hickman who is hovering around our rear with a large party. We are in constant expectation of an attack, mostly in the night with a view of stampeding our animals. Dandy is blanketed and in front of my tent. We sleep on our arms, ready at any moment to fall in to receive our Mormon friends. It snowed yesterday morning and also last night. It goes off readily; all this is excellent for us as it wets the grass so they cannot burn it. It is a Godsend for us.
On this night we (our wagon train) were riding along leisurely, not realizing how rapidly the army was moving on a forced march, so that when we passed through the train on the divide, about midnight, we were fully four miles behind the regiment. Then a force of Mormon cavalry under Bill Hickman descended upon us and set fire to the wagons and all their contents. Hickman soon afterward told me in Salt Lake City that his force stood in a cedar forest half a mile south of the road when the regiment and its wagon trains passed, and that he started to fire the train when he heard horses' hoofs coming up from Green River, when he turned back under cover and waited until a small squad of mounted men (which was myself and my eight companions) passed. The same night or early the next morning the Hickman's and other Mormon cavalry burned up the two large supply trains at Green river and Big Sandy--thus depriving the army of about 500,000 pounds of provisions intended for its maintenance during the long and severe winter then setting in. . . .
Tomorrow I am detailed for the advance, and I hope that I may meet some of the murderers. I do think from all I can learn from the mountain men, who know them well, that they are the greatest set of villains on earth. They say that this Bill Hickman, who is one of the 70 destroying angels, has murdered more than a hundred men in this country with his own hand. We hope to meet him ere long. Our grass is much better than we expected to find. We made today 10 ½ miles over a rough road.
With the loss of all their wagons, food and tens of thousands of animals the Army could no longer march into the Salt Lake Valley and fight their war. Instead they had to camp in Wyoming and endure the many hardships that Wyoming snows, wind and blizzards could give them. In the meantime, there was lots of footwork by a truly heroic figure, Thomas Leiper Kane of Pennsylvania, who managed to work compromises from both sides that allowed the Army to enter Utah without bloodshed and Governor Alfred Cumming to take over the civil leadership of the Territory of Utah. Col. Albert Sidney Johnston, was to lead the troops into Utah the following summer.
William Adams ("Wild Bill") Hickman was one of the most notorious outlaws of the nineteenth-century American frontier. As a bodyguard and spy for Mormon Church presidents Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, he was popularly known as a "destroying angel." However, a matter of disagreement among historians is whether he acted more often in his church's interest or independently as a true renegade.
Hickman obeyed the Mormon teaching of polygamy and was husband to ten wives and father to thirty-five children. During the Utah War of 1857-58, he rallied with his fellow Mormons and was one of the most effective guerillas in the hit-and-run attacks that wore down the attacking U.S. Army. When he was later arrested and jailed for murdering a government arms dealer during the war, his troubles multiplied when he implicated Brigham Young. Young returned the favor by excommunicating him and never speaking to him again.
When he died in Wyoming in 1883, his reputation in three states forced many of his relatives to change their name to escape the social stigma of family ties, while the residents of the small town in which he died refused to bury him in the city cemetery. Still, whatever one thinks of his motives or degree of loyalty, Hickman left an indelible impact on the history and myth of the West as a rough, undisciplined frontiersman who nevertheless helped to establish the Rocky Mountain kingdom of Mormons.
I, William A. Hickman, was born in Warren County, Kentucky, on the 16th of April, 1815. My parents moved from Missouri when I was a boy three years old. My grandfather told me I had twenty-one blood relations in the Revolutionary War. I went to school as a boy. I fell in love with a pretty, black-eyed girl, Miss Burchardt and married her at the age of seventeen years. My father tried to get me not to marry so young, but failed. The first six months after I taught school. I had seventy-five students. My employers said it was worth more than all the schools they had before. I investigated every religion I ever heard of, even Mormonism and I continued to investigate it for two years. I lived on the road the Mormons traveled from Kirtland, Ohio, to Western Missouri. I had almost a daily chance to talk to them.
Being thoroughly convinced they were right, I joined them the spring before they left Missouri. I had good standing in society. The Mormons were very disliked by the Missourians and there was much sorrow expressed by my friends and relations for my joining them, but I told them I was honest in my convictions, which was true. Nothing but salvation could have induced me to do so. My opinion was then and is yet that the Mormons were greatly wronged and abused. I sold my farm for a low figure and left for Illinois. I saw much suffering and distress among those who were leaving Missouri, women and children barefooted and hungry, but these things were soon remedied. Our people were helped in Illinois, got work to do and could get things they needed for it. I gave away as long as I had a dollar to those sufferers.
In April following, I saw the Prophet Joseph Smith for the first time and had a long talk with him and liked him very well. I spent a year in Hancock County and then went to Nauvoo and stayed another year, then moved back to the country and stayed until the spring of 1844. Going to Nauvoo frequently, I heard Joseph Smith several times. I considered his preaching Bible doctrine. I heard him speak of the United States Government several times, which he always did in the highest terms. I heard him say once to a public audience that the Constitution of the United States was part of his religion and a good part, too. He said that he was satisfied there would be war in which the United States would be engaged, but he did not expect to live to see it. "No," said he, "Brethren and friends if any of you have anything against me, come and tell me, and I will make it right. Do not be backward. Come publicly or privately and see if I do not satisfy you, or anyone that has anything against me."
I went to bid Brigham Young good-bye when he crossed the Missouri River and he asked me to stay back to help protect the Saints. 1 arrived in Utah in the fall of 1849. 1 received the appointment of Deputy United States Marshal under Joseph L. Heywood, he having been appointed by President Z. Taylor, which office I held until 1858, about four years. I was licensed to practice law. That winter a new county was granted by the legislature, taking in Green River Ferry. W. J. Appleby was appointed probate judge with power to organize said county and to appoint all necessary officers to hold offices until next election. We went on to supply Fort Green River, where the county was organized by Judge Appleby. I was loaded down with offices.
William Adam Hickman was one of the 52 men who started commercial mining in Utah. The company was organized Sept. 17, 1863, under the name of Jordan Silver Mining In Salt Lake County.
William Hickman lived with his ten wives in what is known as HICKMAN'S Fort. This was located by the Jordan River near 59th South and one mile East of Redwood Road. The Fort was built on a slope facing East. In the Fort each wife had a front and a back room with a door in front. They were built together making one long house. The house had a dirt floor and a dirt roof, with a high wall around the house with holes with lookouts around the top. The Fort was later used for a blacksmith shop.
His later life is somewhat obscured in confusing stories as to the reason for his disfellowship and ex-communication from the L.D.S. Church. No record of his official ex-communication can be located in the Church Archives, other than the local ward record of the West Jordan Ward under direction of Bishop Archibald Gardner. It is certain that he left all but his first wife in Utah when he returned to Missouri
William Hickman was born April 16, 1815 in Warren County Kentucky, and died August 21, 1883 at Lander, Sweetwater, Wyoming. He was the son of Edwin and Elizabeth Adams Hickman. His mother was a cousin of john Quincy Adams. The following notes record one phase of the life of Bill Hickman, while his son's story tells of his character as a father, neighbor and defender of his church and friends.
April 22, 1859. It was rumored that five marshals started for Camp Floyd yesterday sworn to arrest Bill Hickman or kill him on the spot. A young man, a friend of Hickman's rode across the mountains from the camp to Hickman's ranch and told him; he rode so fast that his horse died an hour afterward. The young man then crossed the river to Mayo's brewery and met the marshals, who were very solicitous to know his business; he told them he was going to the city to buy liquor.
Wm. A. Hickman was elected by the people to be a member of the first legislature of Utah, which met at Fillmore. I have been told by Church members that he was called by Brigham Young to go to Fort Bridger, Green River, and he performed a great mission while there. He had his ferry so the saints could cross and come on to Utah. I have always been led to believe that my father, William A. Hickman was to Utah what Daniel Boone was to Kentucky; a great Indian fighter in early days and a dealer in fine horses. My mother has often told me how in early days he protected and guarded Brigham Young laid, his hands on his head and blessed him, that he might be able to protect the Saints from Wild savage Indians and outlaws.
General Connor and Seth M. Blair, the first prosecuting attorney of Utah spoke well of my father. I could name more who gave spoken well of him to me all of which led me to believe that he did a great deal of good for Utah and her people.
He had ten wives, whose names are as follows: Bernetta Berckhart, Sarah Luce, Minerva Wade,
Sarah Meacham, (our GGGrandma), Eliza Johnson, Martha Howland, Hannah Hor, Mary Hor, Margaret Hetherington and Jan Hethington. He was the father of thirty-five children.
J.H. Beadle, who wrote my fathers history, had only one object in view, and that was to slander the Mormons. (And he slandered Wild Bill) He admits that he changed the original manuscript in some respects, and I may say many. His corroborative evidences, as he calls them, in the appendix, proves that. He never spoke of Brigham as being governor and executive officer who wanted law and order or that the Mormons had been driven from their homes and had endured great suffering. My oldest sister, Katherine, was the manuscript and she said it was changed to a novel form, much to her and to my father's sorrow. Father told his brother, Dr. G.W. Hickman, that there are many things in that book Beadle had written unauthorized and that were entirely untrue. Beadle got his data, then went East and wrote the book and published it without my father ever seeing the manuscript. Beadle might in justice have said that Utah, like all other states in her early days, had outlawry and Indian troubles, and that Hickman, as an officer, tried to protect the people from such conditions.
I review some of these events for two reasons. One is because they portray me father as I knew him, for to me he was an embodiment of generosity and gentleness. The other is because in those early days of rough pioneer life men became bold and daring, and often did things which today, with milder civilization, would refrain from doing. For these reasons, my father like Porter Rockwell and others, often did things that brought criticism upon themselves, but what would the country have done without such daring men? They were willing to give their lives to save and protect the people and vouchsafe to coming generations a country free from the savage Indian and murderous enemies of the pioneers--
Warren W. Hickman. Copy L.D.S. Office. Historian’s