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John Edward Hickman (1883-1962)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1945-1948
Chief Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1948-1961

John Edward Hickman was born March 28, 1883 on a farm in Liberty Hill, Williamson County, Texas. His father died when he was a child, and he worked from an early age to help support his mother and six siblings. He attended rural schools and Liberty Hill Normal and Business College. Following his graduation in 1902 he taught at a rural school at Hog Mountain, four miles south of the community of Ding Dong and eight miles south of Killeen, in southwestern Bell County. He attended summer school at Southwestern University in Georgetown before entering The University of Texas, where he studied from 1904 to 1906. He served as principal and baseball coach at Lampasas High School before entering The University of Texas law department in 1908. He graduated in 1910 as the top-ranking member of his class and served as quizmaster for the class of 1911. He practiced law in Austin, Dublin, and Breckenridge, Texas. Hickman was married in 1910. His wife died in 1921; he married again in 1923.

In 1927, while practicing law in Breckenridge, Hickman began thirty-four years of service on the bench when he was elected associate justice of the Eleventh Court of Civil Appeals at Eastland. Gov. Daniel J. Moody appointed him chief justice of that court the following year. In 1935 Hickman was appointed by the supreme court to Section A of the court's commission of appeals. When the number of supreme court justices was increased to nine in 1945, the commissioners were designated associate justices.

Hickman served as an associate justice until 1948 when chief justice James P. Alexander died, and Gov. Beauford Jester appointed Hickman to fill the position. In the general election of that year Hickman was elected to the position. He was the first Texas jurist to serve as chairman of the National Conference of State Chief Justices, serving from 1952 to 1953. Hickman was reelected chief justice in 1954 and served until retiring in 1961. He was chief justice when the supreme court moved from the state capitol building to its new quarters in 1959. Hickman was respected and well-liked among his colleagues, and was known for his clearly written opinions, which numbered more than 400.

Hickman served on the board of trustees of Southern Methodist University for more than forty years, beginning in 1921 until his death. John Edward Hickman died in Austin on April 26, 1962 and was buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.


In Memoriam, 163 Texas reports i (1962).

A Guide to the John Edward Hickman papers, Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin (visited September 19, 2006).

Hickman, John Edward, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001).

Extended bibliography

Speer, Ocie. Texas Jurists 204, 414 (Austin, Texas: the author, 1936).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 55, page 494
Volume 60, page 19, 20

Additional information available in Texas Bar Journal as follow:
Volume 11, page 165, 210, 429
Volume 14, page 57, 495
Volume 15, page 509
Volume 16, page 248
Volume 18, page 214
Volume 23, page 410, 414, 797, 800
Volume 24, page 19
Volume 25, page 355, 943
Volume 26, page 197

Thornton , William M. Judge Hickman Appointed Chief Justice for Texas, Dallas Morning News, Jan. 6, 1948.

Chief Justice's Post Going on 1960 Ballot, Dallas Morning News, Oct. 21, 1959.

Morehead, Richard M. Hickman Lauded as Career Ends, Dallas Morning News, Dec. 22, 1960.

Services Set at Austin for John E. Hickman, Dallas Morning News, Apr. 28, 1962.

In Memoriam, 163 Texas reports i (1962).