On the occasion of the opening of the Ten South Main Building, it gives us pause to remember the history of the firm of Hickam and Hickam which has now existed for over one hundred thirteen years in this same location in Spencer, Indiana.
In 1878, James S. “Pappy” Meek and his wife, Mary Ann, sold the former building located at 10 South Main Street to their son-in-law, Willis Hickam, Sr., who then began his practice of law. As a matter of interest, James S. Meek had been the retiring Clerk of the Owen Circuit Court, and by tradition, all outgoing clerks of the Owen Circuit Court were automatically admitted into the practice of law. Although he never practiced law, his notoriety as Clerk of the Owen Circuit Court is well documented in many abstracts of title to real estate transactions in Owen County, Indiana.
Captain David E. Beem, who achieved his rank during the Civil War, became an associate with Willis Hickam, Sr., until approximately 1880. The practice of law was at that time conducted principally upstairs at 10-1/2 South Main Street, with the first floor being variously occupied as a grocery, shoe store, jewelry store, dry cleaning store and used furniture store. Thereafter, one by one the Hickam family began to join the practice of law at the same address. Hubert Hickam joined the firm in 1913, and Willis Hickam, Jr. (Elliott’s father) in 1916. Thus, for a brief period all three Hickams were in the same law firm and it probably was the largest law firm in the County at that time. It would not return to three practicing lawyers in the firm until 1985. Hubert served in the State Legislature shortly thereafter, and in 1919 moved to Indianapolis to join with James W. Noel in the practice of law, and their association ultimately grew to the rather prestigious partnership of Barnes, Hickam, Pantzer and Boyd (now Barnes and Thornburg), formally established in 1939. Hubert practiced until his death in 1979.
Meanwhile, in Spencer, Indiana, in approximately 1924, Willis Hickam, Jr., due to illness, had to reduce his practice to his home. James E. Rodenbeck was taken in as an associate during this time. He left in the late 1920’s and another associate, Freal McIntosh, came into the office. Mr. McIntosh was an All-American football player from Michigan, and was extremely well received in this community. He died an unfortunate and tragic death very early in their association, about 1930.
A new drug appeared in the marketplace in the late 1928 to 1929 time period, and resulted in a miracle cure for Willis allowing him to reopen the office again in 1929. Lee W. Kirkpatrick also associated himself with the firm by sharing space. He was well known and highly respected. He later practiced by himself until his untimely death in 1954. Elliott Hickam joined the firm in 1948 after serving a tour of duty in the Army Air Corps in New Guinea during World War II.
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