Miss Kathryn Hickson

Kathryn Hickson, 57 (?), was sister to fellow passenger Caroline Hickson Kennedy.  Kathryn worked with Caroline in Caroline's fashion business, Hickson and Company. While Caroline often went to Paris for fashion shows, Kathryn's fatal trip aboard Lusitania was to be her first trip to Europe. Both sisters perished in the sinking of the Lusitania.

Life


Kathryn and Caroline were originally from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, two of at least seven children, all girls and one boy, Richard.  Their father was a cobbler and was said to have a drinking problem.  Caroline (called Carrie), Kathryn (called Kate), and Richard went into business in women's fashion with Hickson and Co. in 1902 at 657 5th Avenue, New York City, New York, the former residence of Madame Restell, America's first millionaire abortionist.  Among the Hickson's customers included Julian Etinge, the famous female impersonator. To establish Richard in the business of women's apparel, Carrie had advanced Richard $800 to start.  Carrie joined the company with a starting salary of $2,600 a year plus expenses, which had increased to $5,000 by 1915.  Kate had a similar salary, but most of the income, $30,000 yearly, went to Richard.  Richard attributed Hickson's success to Carrie's business acumen, and the profit for Hickson and Co. by the end of 1915 was $125,587.56. Whereas Carrie as characterized as "formidable," Kate was known in the family to be the more reserved sister.  She had been born with a birth defect where one of her arms was not fully developed.  Kathryn had worked as a milliner for Hickson's, and by the time of her death, she had not been married. While Carrie made crossings on a regular basis to see the spring fashion shows, their May 1915 crossing on Lusitania was Kate's first trip to Europe, and she was going as tourist. A relative of the sisters by the family name of Hernon had seen the advertisement in the newspapers warning people not to sail on Lusitania.  She went down to the Cunard pier to beg Carrie and Kate not to embark on the trip, fearing the Germans would torpedo the ship.  To that, Carrie replied, "They wouldn't dare!" Carrie and Kate sailed on the doomed ship and neither sister survived.  Lost with them was a wardrobe and jewelry collection valued at $14,000.00. This was all the money Richard Hickson would be awarded in his civil suit after the sinking.  A body identified as Carrie's was recovered (#160) and returned to New York aboard the White Star Liner Cymric on 2 June 1915.  The badly crushed remains makes it unclear whether the body was actually Carrie's or Kate's.  The condition of the body indicates that the sisters were killed by errant lifeboat #18 that swung inboard due to the Lusitania's extreme list, crushing several people that were on deck in between the boat and the bulkhead. Richard Hickson, described by the family as a "waistral," was not able to manage Hickson and Co. without Carrie.  Richard withdrew $50,000.00 from the company to start a fashion magazine which turned out to be "a complete failure and the investment a total loss."  Without Carrie's guidance, Richard drove the business into the ground, and Hickson and Co. was gone by 1920.

Related pages


Caroline Hickson Kennedy and Kathryn Hickson at the Mixed Claims Commission
Contributors: Cynthia Engel (grandniece of Caroline Hickson Kennedy and Kathryn Hickson), USA Anthony Hickson, UK Jim Kalafus, USA Michael Poirier, USA Zachary Schwarz Judith Tavares References: Hicksons Online.  <http://www.hicksons.org/>

About the Author