Location: Oklahoma Territory
Surname/tag: Indian Territory, Worceter, Hicks, Hitchcock
Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 19, No. 4
NOTES ON THE LIFE OF MRS. HANNAH WORCESTER HICKS HITCHCOCK AND THE PARK HILL PRESS
By Muriel H. Wright Page 348
In January, 1852, Hannah Worcester married Abijah Hicks, a young Cherokee who had come west during the main emigration of his people from Georgia. His Cherokee name "Cornplanter" was significant of his success as a progressive farmer and cattleman. The young couple established their first home at the foot of old Park Hill where they built a two-story frame house with fireplaces at both ends upstairs and down. Here Abijah cultivated a good farm and raised a large stock of cattle.
Some years afterward, Doctor Worcester was severely injured in an accident when a ladder broke with him as he was going down to clean out a well. He was an invalid for a long period during which Hannah and Abijah lived at the Mission to help care for him. Abijah opened up a store on the Mission grounds at this time.
After the death of Doctor Worcester in 1859, the American Board sent Reverend Charles Torrey to take charge and continue the work at the Park Hill Mission and Publishing House. Threats of war between the States over a year later brought the work to a close. When the Mission buildings and property, including the printing press, were offered for sale a short time later, Abijah and Hannah bought them and established their permanent home at the mission.
They were the parents of five children with the birth of their son, Herbert Worcester Hicks, in May, 1861, before they moved their home from their first residence to the mission. Though they were a prosperous and happy family with farms, live stock, merchandise, and money saved up for emergency, war in the South and the Cherokee Nation a year later brought tragedy for Hannah and her children.
Abijah set out for Van Buren, Arkansas, to purchase goods for his store, on July 4, 1862. The same day, he was waylaid on the road, by a company of "bushwhackers" who threatened to kill him if he did not join them. He refused their demand and said that they would find him at his home if they looked for him again. As he drove on down the road, he was shot in the back and died instantly.
The following extracts are quoted from Hannah's Diary for 1862:
"Oh! what a year to remember, will this year ever be to me, and to us all. We thought we had some trouble last year, but how happy was that compared with this. On the 4th of July, my beloved husband was murdered, killed away from home, and I could not even see him; so far from it— he had been buried twenty-four hours, before I even heard of it; buried without a coffin, all alone, forty miles from home.
"My house has been burned down, my horses taken, but I think nothing of that. How gladly would I have given up everything if only they had spared my husband. Oh! for an end to this War. May God in his mercy, speedily bring Peace. Today (19th) the soldiers went to the house where Mrs. Vann's things were and turned them up at a great rate; took what they could, and promised to come back for more.
"Five Cherokees were condemned for desertion and shot at Tahlequah. James Pritchett has been killed. Captain Benge was wounded last Sabbath.
"I begin to hear now that my poor husband was killed by the 'Pins' but through a mistake—they intended to kill another man—if it was a mistake, 'twas a terrible one for me. It is strange very strange anyway.
"This is the ninth Sabbath that I have been a widow; two sad weary months. How many times in days past have I wondered what my future would be; but Oh! I could not think it would be as it is: left a widow at twenty-eight, with five children growing up around me, and Oh! most dreadful of all, my dear husband murdered. God be mercyful to us and help us! He loved his children so: never a father better loved his children.
"This weary weary time of War! will the time of suspense never end? I know not what is to become of us: famine and pestilence seem to await us! On the morning of August First our house was burned down; that was the first great trial that my husband was not here to share with me but truly, I hardly felt it a trial, so very little did it seem when compared with what I suffered in losing him, in such a terrible way. I believe my heart is almost dead within me."
After a return trip to Fort Gibson, Mrs. Hicks again wrote in her Diary:
"Today (Sept. 10th, 1862) I went to the Printing Office. I did not know before, how completely it had been cleaned out: the Press, types, papers &c. all carried off or destroyed....We hear today that the 'Pins' are committing outrages on Hungry Mountain and in Flint, robbing, destroying property and killing. Last week some...men went and robbed the Ross place, up at the Mill, completely ruined them: alas, alas for this miserable people; destroying each other, as fast as they can: my heart cries out, O Lord, how long? Oh our God, send deliverance; make haste to help us, Oh God of our salvation.
"The Troops have mostly left Tahlequah for Maysville and Grand Saline: we have now only to wait as calmly as we may, to see what will happen next. Sabbath once more: I have worried through the day with my children, trying to keep them from evil, and to teach them some good; but oh how poorly do I succeed!
"Mr. James Ward has been murdered, and Mr. Bishop taken and carried off.  William Spears was killed some weeks ago: his wife has been searching for him until yesterday she succeeded in finding a part of his bones and remanents of his clothing. It is said that they told him to Pray and that he did so, and was kneeling in prayer a second time when he was shot. "We heard today that the Osages had taken six prisoners (Federal) and that they escaped last night, handcuffed. The Federal prisoners that escaped were five Texas deserters and one Pin; they have not been retaken.
"Rev. Stephen Foreman and family left their house and home, last Monday Sept. 15th, intending to go to North Fork, Creek Nation.
"Nov. 17th. Today we have had experience in being robbed. As soon as it was light they came and began: They took many valuable things and overhauled every closet, trunk, box and drawer they could find. The most valuable things are gone for good and all. So many things the robbers took that I would regret so much if I felt that the loss of anything short of life itself, was worth regretting now. They took about three barrels of sugar, all my blankets, most of my quilts, sheets, pillow cases, towels, table cloths, my teaspoons, all but one, and oh, that large pretty white bed spread that Mrs. Ross had given me; so many little things that I most highly prized; ribbons, sewing silk, pins, needles, thread, buttons, boxes of letters, my mantilla, calicoes, woolen stuffs, white cloth that I was saving to
make up, part of my underclothes and stockings, with the childrens new shoes, their little shawls, &c.; from Mother they took some blankets, one shawl, her shears, mine also, her best shoes and all, some other things, the linen sheet and table cloth of my mother's weaving [Mrs. Ann Orr Worcester]. If the officers had not made them return some things, I and my children would have been left utterly destitute, for they bundled up all our clothing of every kind; (my knives, forks and large spoons were returned) they opened and overhauled the letter box which was under my bed, took some letters and some little things of Mrs. Vann's that I had put in to save. They tore the trimming off Susie's bonnett, broke open a chest which was locked, and took what they pleased. They drove off nearly all our cattle, but most of them got away and came back; one of the oxen was gone a week.
"Hauling wheat and bolting flour this week; that wheat that Sarah, Nancy and I hauled from Mrs. Hoyt's in the hot sun was all taken out of the cribs by Marmaduke's men. Mr. Hoyt died last July.
"I went today to get a load of wood, which makes me remember my husband with renewed sadness as I think I know he would never consent, while he lived, that I should do such work. Oh! the sad sad changes that this year's course has brought to me and mine."
Members of the Worcester family were scattered in the midst of the War to different parts of the United States. Mrs. Hicks took her family of five small children to Fort Gibson for better protection, bereft as she was of husband and near relatives and having lost her home by fire and every vestige of property and live stock at the hands of plunderers. The Cherokee Nation was the border country during the War, scouting parties and detachments of regular troops of both the Union and the Confederate armies sweeping back and forth through the region during the four years of warfare. Further devastation of farm homes and livestock by bushwhackers and other guerilla bands literally wiped out former thriving communities in the Cherokee Nation. During this time the terms "Pins" and "Stand Watie's Men" were maledictions used by harassed citizens according to each one's sympathies in the War. There was no neutral ground, for the Cherokees themselves were hopelessly divided into two bitterly opposing lines. Thus, "Pins" applied to Union Cherokees and "Stand Watie's Men" to the Confederates became the two mysterious forces of evil in the legend of the war.
Mrs. Hicks was married at Fort Gibson, after the War, to Doctor D. D. Hitchcock, physician and surgeon in the United
States Army. They were the parents of one daughter. During an epidemic of cholera that swept Fort Gibson in 1867, Doctor Hitchcock worked day and night attending every case possible throughout the neighboring country. He himself was finally stricken with the disease and died in less than twenty-four hours. The infant daughter died later in the year.
Hannah W. (Hicks) Hitchcock lived to see her grandson, Homer Wilton Hicks, enlist in the Army for service in France during the World War. She died in 1917 and was buried by the side of her second husband and their daughter. Her grave is within the Officers' Circle in the old cemetery at Fort Gibson. Her son, Mr. Herbert W. Hicks, says that he thinks this one of the highest honors accorded a member of the Worcester family.
- ↑ For the story of James Ward and a brief history of the Moravian missions among the Cherokees, see Springplace, Moravian Mission, Cherokee Nation by Muriel H. Wright (Co-Operative Publishing Company, Guthrie, Oklahoma, 1940).
- ↑ Minta Ross Foreman, "Reverend Stephen Foreman," The Chronicles of Oklahoma, (September, 1940), XVIII, No. 1.
- ↑ The "Pins" or "Pin Indians" were Federal scouts, mostly fullblood Cherokees, members of the Cherokee secret society called "Keetoowha." They were called "Pins" from the fact that each member wore a badge consisting of two pins crossed on the lapel of his coat.
Stand Watie was well known as the leader of the anti-Ross faction in the Cherokee Nation. Sympathetic with, the cause of the Southern States, he was early aligned with the Confederacy and personally organized the first Confederate troops in the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokees of his command were noted during the War for their effective service as Confederate scouting parties. Stand Watie had the distinction of being the only Indian in the Confederate Army to attain the rank of brigadier-general.