John Hicks (1811-1884) was born at Westcote, Gloucestershire, in 1811, the third of four children of William Hicks, a labourer, and his wife, Mary. He was baptised at Westcote on 5th January 1812. In all the Westcote records, the surname appears as HICKS but, in later records, the surname often appears as HEEKS.
On 17th October 1839, John Hicks married Mary Hartwell of Badsey. The marriage certificate was signed with a cross by both parties as neither could read nor write. John was a labourer and he gave his address as Badsey. It is likely that John moved to Badsey because his eldest sister, Elizabeth, was married to Badsey-born, John Edginton and had settled in the village.
John and Mary had two sons and one daughter, all baptised at Badsey: Thomas (1841-1841), Mary Ann (1842-1904) and William (1845-1845). With the baptism of Thomas in 1841, the surname appeared as HEEKS for the first time, although he was buried as HICKS. Both boys died as babies and were buried in the churchyard of St James.
At the time of the 1851 census, the family lived at Sharps Row (a terrace of cottages demolished in the 1930s). Several of their neighbours at Sharps Row were also to emigrate to America in the 1870s: William and Eliza Edgington, William and Elizabeth Knight, John Knight, Edwin Knight and John Wheatley.
Mary Hicks died in April 1854 and was buried as HEEKS. John and his daughter had left the village by 1861; though Mary Ann reappeared in November 1861 when she married John Sears. In 1872 they emigrated to America.
John’s whereabouts at the time of the 1861 and 1871 census are unknown, either with the surname HICKS or HEEKS or variants. At some stage he married again to a woman named Anne (born August 1814).
In 1875, John and Anne decided to join Mary Ann and her husband, John Sears, in America. At the time of the 1880 Federal Census, they were living in Auburn Township, Geauga, Ohio, with them, where John had taken up farming. Just nine houses away lived another Vale of Evesham family: Oliver and Ruth Rogers, who had emigrated in 1873, plus Oliver’s parents, John and Ann Rogers. John Heeks’ first wife, Mary Hartwell, was the sister of Ann Rogers.
John died at Auburn on 2nd March 1884 and was buried at Shadyside Cemetery. At the time of the 1900 census, Anne was living with her step-daughter and son-in-law in Auburn. Anne’s date of death is unknown.