Saturday, April 26, 2014

#14 - Hicks family: Isaac Hicks' Business and Helping Elias Hicks, Post 3

Isaac Hicks Makes $ & Helps Elias Hicks
5th Great Grandfather:  Isaac Hicks and Sarah Doughty
Isaac's father and mother were Samuel Hicks and Phebe Seaman (m.1765) and he had 4 sibilings: Elizabeth, Samuel, Valentine and Phebe.  Isaac Hicks, born 19 Apr 1767 and he died 10 Jan 1820.

Isaac was the eldest son and he trained to be a tailor which was his father’s trade. At the same time,  Isaac supplemented his work by teaching at the Westbury School where he got a stipend of 12 dollars per month (which probably wasn't bad). Isaac wanted a raise, but when he requested it, his request was turned down. 
Westbury Friends School photo 1800s

Yellow area-location of Westbury Friends Meeting & School
In post-revolutionary war era, he decided to take his proximity to New York City. After all, in 1785 New York had become the new nation’s capital: In 1789 George Washington was inaugurated, the first United States Congress and the Supreme Court of the United States each assembled for the first time, and the United States Bill of Rights was drafted in NYC. By 1790 New York was the largest city in the United States. Shipping and commerce was booming.

Taking his savings and borrowing money from family he left Westbury for New York City. In 1789 Isaac Hicks purchased a store on Water Street. He presented the New York (Friends) Meeting with a certificate from Gideon Seaman, the Clerk at the Westbury Friends Meeting. A bit later two of his brothers joined him in this venture. His store sold spices, hardware and dry goods. With the support of local (NYC) Quakers, the business prospered.

Soon after his move Isaac married Sarah Doughty (a local Quaker) on 12 May 12 1790. Sarah Doughty was also a distant relation as she was the daughter of John and Abigail (Hicks) Doughty of Brooklyn. She was born 27 Mar 1768 and she died 3 Aug 1847.  After they wed they moved into a house on Everitt Street in Brooklyn and sold the store.

Isaac worked hard and became a prominent shipper of New York. One of his ships was the first carried the newly adopted flag of the U.S.A. to the Black Sea in Russia. His partners and business associates were mostly other Friends: many such as Willet Seaman, were also Westbury kinfolk. His shipping and commission business was secured by the mutual trust of Quakers in cities such as Liverpool and (London-)Derry, Philadelphia, Savannah, and Nantucket.

Isaac Hicks rarely owned a ship of his own, and sought out Nantucket whalers to become their agents to sell whale oil. He found cargoes for their ships when whaling languished and chartered ships for his own venture cargoes of American products to France, Ireland, and Russia. In an era before banks and fixed currency exchanges made it easy to finance international trade, Hicks spent many of his business hours negotiating bills of exchange with London, Philadelphia and New York firms. 

Biography by Robert A Davison
At the age of 38 he left most of his business affairs in the hands of his brothers and partners and retired to a house he had built for the family in Old Westbury.  At this point he increased his other activities.

In 1813 he volunteered to be his cousin Elias Hicks' companion and "armour-bearer" on the first of four visits together in ministry to Quaker meetings throughout the Eastern states. (Quakers are just normal people and were unable to avoid a schism in their body: Isaac Hick's cousin, Elias Hicks, is considered the main antagonist-or hero-of this separation). Isaac read mainly Quaker books and had sent his ships unarmed to a Europe at war; he had always been active in his local meeting and was Clerk until his death. 
Elias Hicks, cousin & friend
Isaac was one of the original members of the Manumission Society in New York City whose chief aim was to work to help the enslaved escape to safety; it supplied money to help escaping slaves and campaigned against slavery in New York State.  
He tried to help stop “blackbirding” (the kidnapping of escaped or freed slaves who would be re-sold elsewhere).

I'm quite sure he took advantage of the Quaker connections he had made in business in order to raise funds for the African Free School in New York City. In his retirement he increased his efforts with the New York Manumission Society and the African Free School in NY.  In the latter part of the 1700s New York was an important port, trafficking slaves to Savannah. Many of the Quakers-and others-joined in in freeing their own slaves, and in efforts to stop slavery or aid escaped slaves. (More on that in another post).

New York African Free School, New York City
Isaac died young-and his relative and friend, Elias Hicks was present when Isaac died of a heart attack at home. 

Sarah Doughty Hicks, his widow, never remarried, but she lived in the home that is still on Old Westbury Road in Old Westbury. Their eldest son, my 4th great grandfather, John Doughty Hicks (who also married a woman named Sarah) lived in the old house which is now on the Phipps estate.

They had six children, including John Doughty Hicks, my 4th great grandfather:
1 John Doughty Hicks (my 4th great grandfather) -1791-1829.
2 Robert Hicks
3 Benjamin D Hicks
4 Isaac Hicks
5 Elizabeth Hicks
6 Mary Hicks

Next post: John Doughty Hicks / Marianna Hicks / William E Hawxhurst / etc..

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