Willie Hickson: Fell From a Cherry Tree

Memory of
Willie E.
Son of 
R.L. & M. Hickson
June 10, 1867.
Nov. 18, 1883.
Our Willie
Willie Hickson most certainly had a bright future ahead of him. He was one of the children of Canadian-born Danville merchant Richard Hickson and his wife  Sue M. Tyack Hickson. The couple had the means to send Willie, and possibly some of his brothers, to the now-defunct Bethel Military Academy in Warrenton, Virginia. There he would receive the education and make the connections that would give him a head-start in life that wasn’t available to everyone in his hometown.
For the date of Willie’s death in November 1883, the page is missing from Green Hill’s Mortuary Reports, so I don’t know what his “official” cause of death was. Luckily there were two newspaper articles addressing the circumstances that led to his untimely death at age 16. 
The Times Dispatch 14 July 1883

 Willie had fallen from a cherry tree while at school sometime before July 1883, possibly while hanging out with friends, enjoying a break from the strict routines of military cadet life. The accident happened during “the latter part of last session” and I’m not sure what that suggests about a time frame. It could have been during the late spring, before a summer break.

The Times Dispatch 20 Nov. 1883

Willie had been paralyzed in his lower extremities as a result of that fall and while the doctor seemed to want the Hicksons to remain optimistic for a recovery, his condition didn’t seem to be improving. Willie was brought back to Danville, where he lingered until his death in November.

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