The Works Progress Administration

Biography of Robert Hicks of El Monte California

Robert Hicks, successful farmer and long-time resident of El Monte, was born in the Ozark, Franklin County, Arkansas, January 12, 1856.  He is the son of Robert and Abigail Hicks, the father being a native of Kentucky and the mother from Alabama.  The parents settled in Arkansas in 1854 where they engaged in farming during their entire lifetime. Mr. Hicks was educated in the public schools of his local community, later attending White Oak Academy, near Ozark.  He remained with his parents until after reaching his majority, following which for a number of years he followed farming in his native county.  He also at intervals during his time, collected accounts for a local Jewish mercantile firm. In 1885, Mr. Hicks came to California, arriving on the first train to enter El Monte over the Southern Pacific Railway.  He immediately entered the employment of L.J. Rose, owner of the 976 acre Rosemead ranch west of El Monte.  Here he remained for ten years, working first as a general farm hand and later as foreman of the ranch. During the period while he was with Mr. Rose, Mr. Hicks acquired a thirty-three acre tract of land just west of El Monte.  This he improved by setting to walnuts and the erection of a residence, barns, etch.  In 1895, on leaving the employ of Mr. Rose, he moved onto this property and engaged in its operation for many years.  Mr. Hicks relates an interesting experiment, which he made in the year 1915, and which was a financial success.  It also resulted in his being called, “The Pumpkin King” having raised for a local cannery, a crop of over one hundred tons of fine pumpkins.  He also sent consignments of the crop for exhibitions that year at the World’s Fairs in San Francisco and San Diego.  Many of the pumpkins weighed over a hundred pounds each. About 1901, having sold his first house, he moved into another which he had erected on his ranch.  Later, Mr. Hicks acquired twelve acres of land from W.R. Dodson, situated some distance west of his original property, which a few years later he sold.  He also purchased twenty-nine acres from the E.J. Baldwin estate, which is now owned by his son Stanley. In 1891, Mr. Hicks returned to his home community in Arkansas, where he was united in marriage with Miss Serena P. Jeffers, whose mother and father were natives of Tennessee and Missouri, respectively.  Following a brief stay in Arkansas, Mr. Hicks returned with his bride to El Monte and resumed his duties as foreman on the Rosemead Ranch. Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Hicks, namely:  H.C., of Riverside; Stanely R., of El Monte, (a Los Angeles Deputy sheriff); Mildred, )Mrs Arthur Barns, whose husband is in the submarine service of the United States Navy, stationed in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu); and Raymond, the last named being deceased. In religion Mr. Hicks is a Methodist.  Politically, he is a Republican.  He has rendered valuable public service to the community, serving for five years on the Board of Trustees of the early Savannah School and later the Lexington School.  He was for eight years Constable of the El Monte township and for a like period, deputy sheriff. Strong and well, at the age of eighty, Mr. Hicks continues active in the efficient management of his properties.  He and Mrs. Hicks continue to reside in their old home west of town on Valley Boulevard.

Source: C. D. Mayon, F. Brow, L. Stoddard, and C. Mudd; El Monte from the Pioneer Days. WPA Project No. N-5740, 1936. In record 19-187072. (California Historical Landmark No. 765: El Monte). On file at the SCCIC, CSU Fullerton.

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