Arthur Hickock

Arthur Hickock was a pioneer in the oil industry at the time of the automobile boom. He eventually became one of Toledo's wealthiest citizens, the president and treasurer of the Hickock Oil Company. He was born at Thompson Ledge, Ohio around the year 1874. His first business venture was a general store in Geneva. He then bought his Toledo department store in the early 1900's during a two-hour train stopover. The Hickock Daylight Store was located on Summit Street. However, Hickock's career was about to take a turn into the gasoline business.

With his store doing well, Hickock made an investment in a filling station at Detroit and Glenwood. A farmer then asked him for a loan to drill for oil on his property. Hickock agreed, but the first spot they picked was dry. Hickock by chance suggested another spot where oil was struck. Hickock then founded the Hickock Producing Company. The Daylight Store burned down in January 1915 after which Hickock concentrated his attention fully on the petroleum industry.

In the stove oil business his biggest customer was the Standard Oil Company. Son Hickock, in conjunction with a Detroit Stove dealer, was selling it straight to the consumer. With automobiles beginning to gain in popularity, he moved into the motor fuel business in 1917. Hickock had his original filling station and also the Jefferson garage. He was successful between 1917 and 1928 and the company expanded to 280 stations. His business began to expand dramatically. Between 1928 and 1935, he gained control of the marketing organizations of such companies as the Wilson & Highland Co. of Detroit and the Pocahontas Oil Co. of Cleveland. The number of his filling stations reached 1,800. Hickock's brand of gasoline was called "Hi-Speed."

All was not well, though, during these years with the nation in the Depression Hickock worked hard to hold on to his business. Hickock's office help worked two shifts and Hickock worked both . His days could run 18-20 hours. When he died in 1945, his company was worth fifteen million dollars, and he left a personal estate of five million dollars.

Upon his death, his will stated that large amounts of the estate were to go to his employees and to various charitable institutions. This generous provision was immediately challenged by the executors of the will: Captain Clarence Hickock, his son; the Toledo Trust Company; and Walter G. Kirkbride, the new president of the company. They argued that since the will was less than one year old and there were living descendants, that under Ohio law, the will was invalid.

In 1948 his employees received $40,000. The charities and the estate remained embroiled in a lengthy legal battle until 1961. It was decided that the original grounds under which the will had been challenged were legitimate in Ohio but some of the Hickock holdings were in other states and could not be bound by Ohio law. The charities finally received some of the estate. [Toledo Biographical Scrapbook (Hick-hire) Local History Room, Toledo Lucas County Public Library.]

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