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Charles G. Hickox

pages 229-232

ONE of the leading business men and best known citizens of Cleveland, Ohio, of a past generation, was the late Charles G. Hickox, who, for many years, ranked as one of the State's foremost captains of industry, as did also his honored father. He is remembered, by those who knew him well, as a man of strong personality, but he never forced his convictions upon any one, and he was notably undemonstrative. His energy, perseverance, and application enabled him to accomplish much more than the average man of business. His high sense of honor restrained him from directing his activities toward any but worthy objects. He was a man of fine presence and pleasant address, and his appearance denoted the intellectual, forceful, manly man. He had in him the elements that make men successful in the highest degree. Permanent among his qualities was that sound judgment which is ordinarily called common sense. He had the ability to grasp facts and infer their practical significance with almost unerring certainty. Few men, in the circles in which he moved, were more sought for counsel than Mr. Hickox by those admitted to his favor, and the correctness of his opinions in practical matters was almost proverbial. His good judgment extended to men as well as measures, for he had a keen insight into human nature, whether of men singly or in masses. For these reasons he was a thoroughly practical man, self-reliant, firm, resolute. To this was added the one thing necessary for the ideal business man—a scrupulous honesty in all his relations with his fellowmen.
Mr. Hickox was born in Cleveland, January 14, 1846, and here he spent his life, being thus identified with the city's growth for over a half-century, seeing it develop from a small, insignificant town to one of the principal lake ports, with half a million souls, and in tbi-, wonderful transformation he played an important part. He was a son of Charles and Laura (Freeman) Hickox. Owing to the prominence of the father, the biographer deems it advisable here to give his personal history at length.
Charles Hickox was born in Washington, Litchfield County, Connecticut, in 1810, being the youngest of four brothers. His parents were natives of Connecticut, in which State they resided until 1815, when they removed to Canfield, Mahoning County, Ohio, where Charles Hickox resided until he was seventeen years of age, then joined two of his brothers at Rochester, New York. He came to Cleveland in 1837, the town at that time numbering only five thousand inhabitants. He made his debut in the Forest City in the year of its greatest depression. For two years he engaged as clerk and served his employers faithfully, then, gaining confidence and seeing an opening he struck out boldly for himself, setting up, as was usual in those days, in the commission and produce business. The constantly growing commerce of the place increased his business and made it lucrative. With far-seeing enterprise he pushed his operations so that his trade rapidly increased and his consignments steadily grew in number and quality. To accommodate it he purchased interests in shipping on the lake and eventually became a large ship owner.
Subsequently Mr. Hickox turned his attention to milling and commercial operations along other lines. He purchased a large flouring mill in Akron, Ohio, which he soon made known to the commercial world by the excellence and reliability of its brand. To this was in time added the water mill on the canal in Cleveland near the weigh lock, which he sold after operating it five years, then purchased the Cleveland Steam Mills on Merwin Street, with a capacity of about three hundred and fifty barrels per day, and in 1867 he added the National Steam Mills, with a capacity of nearly six hundred barrels per day. A large capital was necessarily involved in these mills, and a large number of men were constantly employed in the mills proper and in the manufacture of barrels and sacks. A very large proportion of the flour was sold in sacks. Although the products of these mills was very large, nearly the entire amount was sold in local markets, indicating the superior quality of the flour, in fact, there was a demand for it that could scarcely be met.
In 1872, Mr. Hickox turned his attention to other lines of investment other than the flouring-mill business, among them iron ore mines of Lake Superior and coal lands of central Ohio. By the sale of these later to the Hocking Valley and the Toledo and Ohio Central Railroad companies, he became identified with those companies, being active in the general management of both corporations. He was also one of the founders of the Society for Savings, was a member of the Board of Sinking Fund Commissioners; he was also president of the Republic Iron Company, and a director in a number of other important corporations. At various periods he owned considerable real estate in Cleveland, and at the time of his death he was constructing the substantial Hickox Building at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Ninth Street, Cleveland. He took a deep interest in the city's railroads, and he was for some time a director of the Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati Railroad Company. He made his influence felt in all departments of business, in which he became interested, up to the last. He never tired of work. It was in 1848 that the Cleveland Board of Trade was organized and he was one of the best-known early members of the same. Mr. Hickox was married in 1843 to Laura A. Freeman, a daughter of Judge Francis Freeman and wife, a prominent old family of Warren, Ohio. To this union four children were born, namely, Frank F., Charles G., Ralph W., and Mrs. Harvey H. Brown. They all established their homes in Cleveland and became well known here. Politically Charles Hickox was a Republican but he never sought office or political leadership; but he had the interest of his city at heart, and never spared either time or money in promoting whatever he deemed would make for the general welfare of the same, as well as for the State and Nation. He traveled extensively and was a well-read and well-informed man, keeping up with the times in every respect. He was called to his reward April 17, 1890, after a most commendable career, one fraught with great good to the people of Ohio. The death of his wife occurred April 3, 1893.
Charles G. Hickox, the immediate subject of this sketch, grew to manhood in his native city, and he received his early education in the schools of Cleveland, later taking a full course in the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he made an excellent record and from which institution he was graduated with the class of 1867. Upon his return home from college, he began his strenuous and successful business career, his father having started his sons, Charles G. and Frank F. Hickox, in the flouring-mill business, known as the Cleveland Milling Company, of which our subject was secretary and treasurer. This venture was a great success, owing principally to the fine business ability and close application of our subject. The products of their mills were in great demand over a vast territory. Having accumulated a competency, the younger Hickox had retired from the active affairs of life some'vears before his father's death in 1890, but was compelled to take up the extensive railroad and other interests left bim by his father. This he did in a manner that reflected much credit upon himself and to the satisfaction of all concerned, displaying an executive genius and fortitude, courage and business acumen that even surpassed similar attributes of his father. He kept all lines of the affairs entrusted to him going successfully, gradually building them up as the times and general conditions demanded, and increased several fold their earning powers. He remained actively engaged in his extensive interests until about the year 1910, when he again retired to private life and spent his last years as quietly as possible in his attractive and well-appointed home in Cleveland; this was necessary owing to the fact that he was in failing health several years before his death.
Charles G. Hickox was a director of the Columbus, Hocking Valley, and Toledo Railroad, was also a director of the Toledo and Ohio Central Railroad, also was vice president of the latter road. He was second officer of the Adams-Bagnall Electric Company, also of the Lakeview Cemetery Association, and the Gordon Electric Drill and Machinery Company; also a director in the Kanawha and Michigan Railway Company, the Cleveland and Mahoning Railway Company, and the National Acme Company. He was interested in the Litchfield Company which operates the Hickox Building in Cleveland, built by our subject's father, as stated in a preceding paragraph. The elder Hickox and Judge Stevenson Burke owned large coal fields in Ohio and West Virginia, and thus they became leading spirits in the Hocking Valley Railroad and the Toledo and Ohio Central Railroads. These and other extensive holdings were inherited by the Hickox children upon the father's death. Only one of the children now survives, Frank F. Hickox.
Charles G. Hickox was married on December 16, 1902, to Alice M. Chrystal, a daughter of Peter and Hannah (Clinton) Chrystal. Her father was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, of a sterling, old New England family. He grew up and was educated in his native State, but in early life crossed the continent to the Pacific coast, being one of the pioneers of California, where he located in the early fifties, in the gold-fever days, and there became successful in business and prominent. The mother of Mrs. Hickox was a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and was the possessor of that inimitable Southern charm of manner which made her a favorite everywhere. These parents have long since passed to their rest. To them ten children were born, only two of whom were born in this country. Mr. and Mrs. Chrystal lived a number of years abroad, where the children were educated. The -children now surviving are James B., Eugenie, Alice Al., and Cecelia. Mrs. Hickox was born in Paris, France, and enjoyed the advantages of an excellent education. She is a lady of culture and has long been a social favorite in Cleveland, where she continues to make her home.
Politically Charles G. Hickox was a Republican and was ever loyal in his support of the party. He was a close personal friend of Senator Mark Hanna. He was a member of the Union, Country, and Roadside clubs, also the Sigma Phi fraternity of his college—the University of Michigan. He was a worthy member and liberal supporter of the Euclid Avenue Presbyterian Church, of which his parents were also members.
Mr. Hickox was summoned to his eternal rest on April 23, 1912, leaving behind him a record of which his city and family may well be proud—a record after which any young man, starting out on his career, might well pattern.


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