Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Prisoner's Farewell, by Irl Hicks

With several other military artifacts at the Follett House Museum is found the book entitled The Prisoner's Farewell to Johnson's Island; or Valedictory Address to the Young Men's Christian Association of Johnson's Island Ohio. The work is a lengthy poem penned by Irl Hicks. The full text of this book is accessible through Google Books.

According to an article in the Confederate Veteran magazine, Irl Roger Hicks was born on December 18, 1844 in Bristol, Tennessee. In December of 1861, at age 17, Irl enlisted in First Cavalry Regiment of the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Irl Hicks was engaged in several battles during the war, including Perryville and Chickamauga. At Chickamauga Irl R. Hicks was taken prisoner and sent to the prison camp at Johnson’s Island. While there, he was made distributor of the mail. As the prisoners were ready to be released to go home, on May 19, 1865, the last meeting of the Y.M.C.A. was held at the prison. Irl Hicks was selected to give the address, which was in the form of a poem, and was well received.

After returning home, Irl R. Hicks entered college at Andrews College in Trenton, Tennessee. He took courses in literature, meteorology, philosophy, and theology. Irl R. Hicks was ordained into the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1871. Soon he was assigned to a church in St. Louis, Missouri. Later he joined with the Congregational Church. In 1887 Rev. Hicks turned his time and talents to publishing. He became president of the Word and Works Publishing Co. One of Rev. Hicks’ favorite publications was his Almanac, in which he made monthly forecasts of the weather.
In 1900, the Rev. Irl R. Hicks Almanac sold for twenty five cents an issue, or seventy five cents per  year. A newspaper article accessed via Chronicling America reported about Rev. Hicks, “Few men have labored more faithfully for the public good or found a warmer place in the hearts of the people.”

Rev. Irl R. Hicks died from pneumonia on October 13, 1916 in Wellston, Missouri. He was 71 years of age at the time of his death, and it is said that he had amassed a fortune through the publication of his almanac.

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