Mr Lewis Hickman was born in Fritham, Hampshire, England in 1879, and worked in a munitions factory at Fritham.
After his marriage he decided to seek his fortune in Canada. His younger brother Leonard had emigrated to Neepawa, Manitoba, in 1908, and had done well for himself working at nearby Eden as a farmhand for a wealthy mixed-grain farmer, Harold Honeyman.
Leonard went home to Fritham for Christmas in 1911 and persuaded the entire Hickman family of eleven to emigrate to Canada. Because of the coal strike, alternative passage was found for only three of the bothers - Leonard, Lewis and Stanley. They travelled with four companions from Fritham, Percy Deacon, Ambrose Hood, Charlie Davies and William Dibden on a single ticket (ticket number S.O.C. 14879, £73 10s).
No doubt they were were delighted to learn that because of the inconvenience they all had been upgraded from Third Class on another ship to Second Class on Titanic.
As the Titanic was sinking, Lewis grabbed his brother Leonard's coat before he went up on deck. Lewis' body was the 256th recovered from the Atlantic, but it was identified as that of Leonard because Leonard's membership card in the Foresters Lodge was found in a pocket.
NO. 256. - MALE. - ESTIMATED AGE, 40. - HAIR, FAIR; AND MOUSTACHE.
CLOTHING - Grey overcoat; fancy Vest; dark suit.
EFFECTS-Keys; razors; scissors; silver watch and chain; amber cigarette holder; cigarette case; £14 10s. in gold; 7s.
NAME - LEONARD HICKMAN.
On Friday 3rd May, the Neepawa Press reported,
"Amongst the bodies of the Titanic victims found was that of Leonard Hickman of Eden who went home last December and was returning with two brothers and several other young men to accept positions with farmers in the neighbourhood. Private correspondence from Fritham tells of the terrible affliction of two families there as a result of the Titanic disaster. Parents of Mssrs. Leonard, Stanley and Lewis Hickman are so prostrated that there are fears for their recovery, and a Mrs Davies, whose son was also on the lost vessel en route to Eden is believed to be hopelessly unnerved."
Normally, because the body recovered was of a second class passenger, it would have been buried in Halifax, However, when Leonard's lodge members in Neepawa learned that the corpse of one of their brothers had been found, they paid to have it shipped to Simpson, Undertakers, Neepawa, for burial. Harold Honeyman had a tombstone prepared with Leonard's name on it. The body left Halifax by train on May 4. It arrived an hour before the funeral was to begin on May 10, When the casket was opened, Honeyman was shocked to discover he could not identify the body as anyone he knew. Leonard was dark and clean shaven; the body that arrived was that of a older man, fair-haired and sporting a moustache. The church was crowded with people waiting for the funeral to begin, so Honeyman decided to have the casket sealed and let the funeral go ahead, the congregation none the wiser. "To have said it was not Leonard was going to create awful confusion," Honeyman said later. The Neepawa Press explained that mourners were not allowed to view the body because "it was in the water for two weeks, and more than one week en route from the scene of death." Still, the newspaper assured readers, "the body was remarkably well preserved and the features were readily recognized by acquaintances who were permitted to view the remains.
"Thus was laid to rest the remains of Leonard Hickman, an efficient English farm labourer. Had he been a state dignitary or a millionaire, there might have been more pomp, but there could not have been more genuine sorrow and respect manifested. All honour to Neepawa, the farthest west resting place (in Canada) of a Titanic hero."
The body was interred in Riverside Cemetery, one of the prettiest and well kept rural cemeteries in all of Canada. Only after the personal effects were returned to the Hickman family in England did Lewis' wife, Marie, suspect that it was her husband and not Leonard who was buried in Neepawa. She identified the silver watch and chain and an amber cigarette holder as belonging to her husband. When confronted with the evidence, Honeyman confirmed her suspicions. "I suppose you know by this time that it was not Leonard's body that was forwarded to us here," Honeyman wrote to Albert Hickman on May 20, 1912, "I do not know how the mistake occurred, but I am satisfied it was your bother, Lewis."Later, the inscription of the tombstone, which had been erected by the citizens of Neepawa and district was changed. It now reads:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
There are also memorials to the Hickman brothers in Fritham, Free Church, New Forest Hampshire, and on a stone at St. Peter's Church, Bramshaw, New Forest, Hampshire.
Record of Bodies and Effects: Passengers and Crew, S.S. Titanic (Public Archives of Nova Scotia) (#256)
The Neepawa Press, May 3, 1912, May 7, 1912, May 13, 1912 Sept 2, 1987.
The Winnipeg Sun, 12 April 1998
Alan Hustak (1999) Titanic: The Canadian Story. Vehicule Press, ISBN 1-55065-113-7
Cecil Pittman, Neepawa
Hermann Söldner, Germany
Alan Hustak, Canada
Gerry Leacock, Canada