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Fayette County, Iowa  

 Biography Directory


Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa

Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of

Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County

Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago

March 1891


~Page 278~


John W. Lickiss

John W. Lickiss, who resides on section 23, Fairfield Township, is practically living a retired life, having laid aside the more arduous duties of farming and engaging now only in the culture of garden vegetables and small fruits. He was born in Leicestershire, England, October 5, 1826, at Castle Donnington, and is the first-born of nine children, whose parents are John and Maria (Webster) Lickiss. They were married in 1824, in Leicestershire, where their childhood days were spent. Her father was a tinnier and coppersmith. Mr. Lickiss, Sr., when a young man went to Hull, where he spent seven years as an apprentice to the tanner's trade. He educated himself and practiced his writing in boxes of sand. He first came to America about 1821, but returned and wedded Miss Webster. Four years later he brought his young wife and two of his children to this country, locating in Brunswick, N. J., where he worked at his trade for about six years when, in 1834, he emigrated westward and became a resident of Wayne County, in the Territory of Michigan. There he bought land and in the midst of the forest developed a farm. This work was entirely new to him, he having never had any experience as an agriculturist, but he was quick to learn, profited by the experience of others, and persevering, at length had a well-cultivated farm. He also established a tan-yard in Michigan and successfully carried on that business for some time. In 1842 he went to Ohio, but returned to Michigan, whence he came to Iowa in 1869, locating in Taylorville. He owned considerable property in this county, and here lived a retired life, the profits derived from his business in former years being sufficient to keep him in ease. He was a Democrat in politics and in early life a member of the Church of England, but afterward united with the Methodist Church. His wife died January 28, 1875, and going to Illinois he married his brother's widow. By the first union nine children were born, as follows: John W., of this sketch; George, who died at the age of nineteen; Ann, who is living in Toledo, Ohio; Elizabeth, a resident of Nebraska; Lucy, deceased; William, an engineer; Mary, who resides in Michigan; Ed, who enlisted in the regular army and served through the Modoc War and the Civil War; and Mrs. Martha Hutchison, of Brush Creek, who completes the family.

Amid the scenes of pioneer life our subject was reared to manhood and the same experiences met him in later years. He was a babe of two when the family crossed the Atlantic to this country. For seven weeks and four days they were upon the bosom of the ocean, but at length safely arrived at New York Harbor. Mr. Lickiss was six years old when they removed to Michigan. The few schools which had already been established were very inferior, and so under the direction of his father he acquired his education at home in the evenings. He learned the tanner's trade and for some years engaged in that business. He left the parental roof to make a home for himself. In 1849 he chose as a helpmate on life's journey Miss Sarah Jane Hancock, the union being celebrated February 25. The lady was born in Orleans County, N. Y., October 24, 1831, and was brought to Michigan by her parents, George and Caroline Hancock, the former a native of Massachusetts, and the latter of the Empire State, born in Washington County. Her father was a shoemaker by trade, but followed farming for many years. Leaving Michigan in 1851, he removed to Fayette County, Iowa, locating in the suburbs of Brush Creek, where he made his home until his death, which occurred in 1878, at the age of eighty-one years. His wife purchased the first yard of cloth ever retailed in Brush Creek.

Mr. and Mrs. Lickiss began their domestic life upon a farm in Michigan, but after three years became residents of Jones County, Iowa. They are the parents of the following children: George A., who is in a store in Brush Creek; Carrie M., wife of Charles Leonard, of Cherokee County, Iowa; John W., who resides in the same county; Perry P., who married Martha Peterman and is a farmer of Fairfield Township; Lorena E., wife of George Oakley of Nebraska; William A., who married Eliza Oakley and is also living in Nebraska; Fannie E., wife of George Hummel, of Clayton County; Maggie, deceased; Mary E., Robert and Percy at home; and Edwin and Lucy, who died in infancy. With the exception of the two last-named all grew to mature years and received liberal educations, thus being fitted for the practical duties of life. The two eldest have taught school successfully and George has been employed in that capacity throughout the county.


Mr. Lickiss spent about two and one-half years in Jones County, Iowa, engaged in carpentering and other pursuits, and in 1854 came to Fayette County, making his home with his wife's father south of Brush Creek for a short time. In 1855 he purchased his present farm, comprising forty acres of prairie land and ten acres of timber land. It was entirely destitute of improvements, unless we could call a log shanty by that term. The purchase price was $500, but now it could not be bought for several times that amount. In connection with general farming he engaged to a considerable extent in carpenter work. He put the finishing touches on the first dry-goods store in Brush Creek and built the first frame house at that place. As the years have passed his capital has increased, and the competence which he has now acquired enables him to lay aside the more arduous duties of farm life. However, not content to live in idleness, he has a garden and also raised small fruits. He cast his first vote for Lewis Cass in 1848 and supported the Democratic party until the elections of Lincoln and Grant when he voted with the Republican Party. He has since again voted with the Democracy and with the Greenback party and favors the principles of the latter. He remembers to have seen Gen. Jackson, when he was escorting Black Hawk over the country. For many years Mr. Lickiss has been a member of the United Brethren Church of Brush Creek. On their trip from New Jersey to Michigan at Buffalo, N. Y., they were to board a boat for Detroit. There were two boats to leave about the same time and they each wanted to arrive at Cleveland; in the flurry three of the children got aboard the boat and it pulled out, leaving the parents and three of the children standing on the wharf. One of the children on board the boat was less than a year old. There was a German lady on board who took care of the children until they were landed in Cleveland where they had to stay until the arrival of the family next day. 




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