WILLIAM A. BICKET, general manager of the Hiram Sibley estate in Ford and Livingston Counties, was born in Toronto, Canada, September 9, 1842, and is a son of James and Jane (Leckie) Bicket, both of whom are now deceased. Our subject's connection with the immense property of which he is now the manager began in August, 1872, when Michael L. Sullivant was proprietor, and since 1878, when Hiram Sibley succeeded to its ownership, he has been general manager. A brief description of the property in question will not be inappropriate in connection with the biography of its resident legal representative and general manager, so we give a sketch of the same on another page of this work.

The father of our subject was a native of Scotland and emigrated to Canada in his youth. The mother was born in Canada, and was of Scotch and English descent. Their family consisted of five children, as follows: Isaac B., the eldest, was a soldier of the Union army during the late war. He was poisoned by drinking from the poisoned wells of Maryland, and received his discharge on account of physical disability, but afterward re-enlisted in the seventeenth Illinois Cavalry and served until the close of the war. He married, and died in Sibley on the 27th of February, 1880, presumably from the effects of the poison which remained in his system from the time of his service. William A. is the next younger. Agnes, the only daughter, is the wife of the Rev. George Mitchell, B. A., pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church at St. Catharines, Canada. James L., the youngest, is employed as book-keeper in the Sibley estate office in Sibley, Ill. One child died in infancy.

William A. Bicket was reared and educated in Canada, attended the public schools and served a flve-years' apprenticeship to the mercantile business in Perth, Ontario. In 1860, he went to Chicago, and was employed as a clerk in a commission house for two years, when he removed to Wabasha County, Minn., where he purchased a farm and was engaged in agricultural pursuits until February, 1864. On the 25th of that month, he enlisted in Company A, Seventh Minnesota Infantry, was detailed on special duty immediately after entering the service and was stationed at Ft. Snelling, where he was in charge of receiving and forwarding recruits to the front, and continued in that line of duty until mustered out May 11, 1865.

On his return from the war, Mr. Bicket engaged in the grain commission business in Chicago until 1866, when he went to Loda, Ill., and took charge of a distillery, then one of the largest in the United States, continuing there until August, 1872, when he entered the service of Mr. Sullivant in Ford County as commissary for his mammoth farm. On the failure and assignment of his employer early in 1877, he was placed in charge of the property as manager under the assignee, in which capacity he served until October, 1878, when Mr. Sibley came into legal possession of the property. He was retained by the new proprietor in the same capacity and since the death of Mr. Sibley, on the 11th of July, 1888, he has been general manager of the estate in Ford and Livingston Counties.

In politics, Mr. Bicket is a Republican, and has been active and influential in the local campaign work of his party. He is a member of the Ford County Republican Committee, having often served as delegate to district couuty and State conventions, and has held various official positions. For fourteen years he has been Supervisor of Sullivant Township, was Coroner of Ford County for four years and has held every office at times in the village of Sibley from President of the Board of Education to President of the village. He is a Knight Templar Mason, belonging to Sibley Lodge No. 761, A. F. & A. M.; Gibson Chapter No. 183, U. A. M.; Gibson Council No. 72; and Mt. Olivet Commandery No. 38, K. T. He is also a member of Lott Post No. 70, G. A. R., of Gibson.

On the 14th of February, 1867, Mr. Bicket was united in marriage at Faribault, Minn., to Miss Ellen Pratt, who was born in Berlin, Wis., and is a daughter of Henry and Jane E. Pratt. Her father was among the pioneers of Minnesota, and was in the Government service at the Winnebago Indian Agency at an early day. Eight children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Bicket, of whom six are yet living: Mary Gertrude, wife of the Rev. Elbert H. Alford, of the Methodist Church, of Sibley, by whom she has two children, Don Bicket and Genevieve; Nellie Louise is employed in her father's office in Sibley; Effie May is a teacher in the Sibley schools; James Pratt is a student in Chaddock College, of Quincy, Ill.; William Albert died at the age of fifteen months; Harry Leckie died when twelve months old; Grace Darling and Hiram Sibley, the youngest of the family, now surviving. In their religious belief, the family are Methodists, members of the church in Sibley, of which Mr. Bicket is a Trustee.

It is now twenty years since our subject became identified with the property known as the Hiram Sibley estate and fifteen years since he had full control of the management of the entire estate in Ford and Livingston Counties. The history of the growth and development of the property is covered in a description of the estate published elsewhere in this work, which speaks volumes in praise of the sagacity, fidelity and executive ability of the manager. His just, liberal and impartial treatment of the tenants has won their regard and confidence, while his honest and judicious discharge of duty has been eminently satisfactory to those interested in the estate.

Extracted 14 Dec 2017 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Record of Ford County, Illinois, published in 1892, pages 210-212.

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