Hicks - Preston - Montgomery InGenWeb Project

Go to content

Hicks - Preston

Source: Zach, Karen Bazzani.    "Preston Hicks: Successful in Business, Education and a Whole Lot More. Montgomery Magazine July 1991 p 5.

According to a public notice, a meeting of the legal voters of School House 7, Clark Twp was held in 1876 on Fri the 25th of Aug at 1 o'clock for "the purpose of selecting a teacher to teach the public school for the ensuing fall and winter term"  The teacher chosen remains a mystery, but a great deal is known about Preston Hicks, the director of the school, father of some of its pupils and writer of the public notice.

Preston was born just inside Montgomery County, near the Putnam County line on Jan 28, 1830. He was the son of Thomas "Jefferson" Hicks (born June 11, 1810 Jessamine Co, Ky. married in Montgomery County Oct 15, 1827) to Lucinda Ragsdale. Preston's early life was deeply saddened at the loss of his father at an early age (his father had just turned 26, Preston, 6). Preston had one brother, Sam and one sister, Eliza.  Lucinda Ragsdale Hicks raised her young children, outliving her husband by 50 years (born May 1, 1811 died Oct 10, 1886) living all that time on the old homestead.

Preston grew up on this farm, doing a man's job at a young age. He married a Clark Twp girl, Martha Utterback, daughter of Martin and Eliz. McDowell Utterback. (see his notes) Martin's daughter and our subject led a reasonably happy life, although four times death crossed the door of their pleasant home when two of their twelve children died a t a very young age and two as teens, Jesse age 14 and Mary Etta at 19. Their other children, Melissa married Harrison Britton and lived on a farm close to her parents. She too died reasonably young being born in 1859 and dying in 1885. The other Hicks' children were: Wm., Sam, Martin, Henry, Tom, Robert and Charles.

Preston's first real start for himself was the purchase of 40 acres of land which he bought from Silas Davidson in Sec 25, Clark Twp. Through hard work and excellent mgmt, he eventually owned 1500 acres of land....... I received a personal view of Preston as well as eyeing his business tactics in his march 1876 day book he was much into bartering, selling Isaac Carmen 252 pounds of beef at 6 cents a pound to be paid in sawing lumber at 50 cents a hundred.

Other interesting entries included buying a pair of shoes at Kyles for $1.85, renting a house to Decatur Ellis for $3 a month and seven yards of shirting and tobacco bought at Kyles for $1.85. He also listed those who dug a public ditch and their types of horse teams; D. Branch (l, 8-team for 1/2 day); Wm. Harris 2, 8-team for 1/2 day; G.S. Davidson 2 bays 1/2 day each; P Penington worked 1/2 day; H. Cook worked 1/2 day; James Harris two days; G. Davenport used horse and scraper 1/2 day; Lemac Robins and Jacob worked 1 1/2 days; john Duncan horse and scrapper; Wm. Bymaster worked 1/2 day; and Wm. Davison horse and scraper.  Preston himself worked on the ditch for 6 1/2 days in Montgomery and 17 days in "Hendrix).

Preston also turned out 39 head of steer onto James Daugherty's pasture for $1 a head per month and let Judson Hovermale turn two horses onto his own pasture at $1.50 each per month. But, Preston's life wasn't just spent "down on the farm." He was also a strong supporter of the Democratic party and active in the local Christian Church (*likely the same one his in- laws attended).

Of course, his high regard for education can be viewed many times over in his donating the land for the Hicks' school and serving for many years as its director.  The original teacher for Preston's school is not known but the Crawfordsville library has the school records for 1918-21. My suspicious is that 1921 was the last year the school existed.  As early as April 1919, teacher Mary Daily had this comment: "To be abandoned!" as an answer to the question,  "In your judgement what does the school need as a whole?"

In that year, beginning Sept 9, 1918 and ending April 4, 1919, there were 11 pupils: Mable Ellis and Virgil Owen, grade 6; Evaline Ellis, Lois Harshbarger, Wayne Knoy, Ruby Hedge 4th graders; Marion Ellis and Marion Martz second grade boys and first graders, Elmer and Jesse Trent and Frank Eldridge. Frank was promoted to 3rd grade, having received all A's on his report card for the year. The fall term, 1920 was held with JL Davis as teacher with only grades 1,3,6 and 8 having only 3 girls Mable Ellis, grade 8, Faris Brown and Stella Clark grade 6. The boys attending were Wayne Knoy and Ruby Hedge grade 6; Marion Ellis, Hubert Huckstep and Marion Martz, grade 3 and first graders Ralph Martz, Holton and Hubert Brown and Clarence Clark.

There was a 91.7 percent attendance for the year and they went to school 63 days. The 1919-20 year saw rise in pupils 15, having two first graders, two second, two third, one fourth, five fifth and three seventh graders.
Teacher VH Clark's daily program consisted of: 8:30 - Opening Exercises 8:45 reading 1 9-writing 3 9:15 - history 7 9:30 -history 4 9:45 - Arithmetic 5 10- arithmetic 4 10:15 - Arithmetic 7 10:30 Recess. 10:45 - Reading 1 11-Reading 3:11:15 - History and Geo 5 11:25 - Reading 4 11:45 - Grammar 5 Noon. 1:00 - Reading 7 and 1 1:15 - Reading 5 1:30 - Grammar 4 1:45 - Grammar 7 2:00 Numbers 1 1:15 - Grammar 3 2:30 - recess 2:45 - Reading 1 300 - Spelling 3 3:10 - Phys and Spelling 5 3:20 - Phys and Spelling 7 3:30 - Phys and Spelling 4 3:45 - Agri 7 3:55 - Dom Sci 4:00 - adjourn. The Jan - Apr 1921 term had 12 in the school and is the last recorded. Teacher JL Davis said, "More pupils" were needed. The teacher must have been exceptionally good or the students exceptionally smart as there were no D's and F's recorded and very few C's. The students were also ranked and Mabel Ellis in Grade 89 was the "1" and only.
The students not only received grades in their subjects but also in deportment, studentship, health (listing good, fair or poor) and tardiness. Being a librarian, it was interesting to note that there were 16 books in their library. At any rate, both Preston Hicks and his wife died before they saw the demise of Preston's little school and I can only wonder what this highly intelligent, motivated and respected man would feel about that progress??

References: Hicks' School Records. Bowen History Personal papers of Preston owned by his grandson,Harlan 1860-80 census 1874 People's Guide and MCM.

Source: Montgomery County, Indiana History. H. W. Beckwith. Chicago: HH Hill, 1881 p. 460

Preston Hicks, farmer, Ladoga, was born Jan 28, 1830 near Russellville, and is the son of Jefferson and Lucinda (RAGSDALE) Hicks. His father was born in Ky, June 11, 1810 while his mother was b. in the same state May 1, 1811. His father came here in 1831 and settled where his son Samuel now lives. April 9, 1854, Mr. Hicks was married to Martha A. UTTERBACK, daughter of Martin and Elizabeth Utterback, by the Rev. Mr. BALDWIN. They have become the parents 12 children: William Samuel Melissa J Martin Marietta Henry Allen Thomas J Robert F Jesse O. and Charlie. His first farm contained 40 acres, but now he is the owner of 900 acres, and is considered one of the wealthiest men of the township.

Back to content