These documents all pertain to public lands in the central San Joaquin Valley. Virtually
all of them represent holdings in eastern Stanislaus and Merced counties. Most date from
the 1860s---the period of wheat cultivation and railroad expansion in that region. With
few exceptions they represent the acquisitions of two men: Lewis M. Hickman and John W.
A native of Delaware, L. M. Hickman spent much of his life in Stockton. Hickman's name
first appears in the Stockton Directory (1856), where he is listed as operating a
hardware store with H.D. Saunders. This firm, which was located on Main Street between
Hunter and El Dorado, sold cutlery, tin, copper, sheet iron, stoves and miners' tools and
performed "all kinds of job work done at shortest notice." During the 1850s Hickman was a
member of the Protection Hook & Ladder #1 volunteer fire fighters. In 1857 he was a
founding member of the Stockton Episcopal Church.