Born a slave, Charles Page was born on a plantation in Johnson County, Georgia, in 1838.
In 1860 his first master, a brutal man, sold him to a retired U.S. Army major, James H. Hicks Sr. In accordance with the custom of those days, Charles Page took the last name of his new master and became Charles Hicks.
In 1861, Charles went off to war as a servant with the master's son, Lt. James H. Hicks Jr., a lieutenant in the Confederate Army. Their unit, Company T, of the 14th Georgia Infantry Regiment, was in Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and fought in many of the war's bloodiest battles, including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness and Cold Harbor. Lt. Hicks was wounded in 1864, and he and Charles returned to Georgia. Lt. Hicks recovered and returned to Virginia, leaving Charles behind.
Charles then left the plantation — it's unknown whether he was running away or trying to rejoin Lt. Hicks in Virginia — but he soon ran into Gen. William T. Sherman's army, cutting through Georgia in its March to the Sea. On Dec. 1, 1864, on the bank of the Ogeechee River in Jefferson County, Charles enlisted in the Union Army. His enlistment is recorded as voluntary, but his 1941 newspaper obituary said he was forced to join the Northern army and serve as a cook.
Charles' unit, the 110th U.S. Colored Volunteer Infantry, served with Sherman during the federal occupation of Savannah. He was released from federal service in 1866 and returned to Johnson County, living close to his master, James H. Hicks Sr.
Charles Hicks moved to a farm near Lyons, Georgia in the 1890s where he met Polly Ann Banks and they were married on June 15, 1900 in Montgomery County, Georgia.
In 1912, Charles was granted a federal pension for his service as a soldier — $16 a month from 1912 through 1916, $20 a month from 1916 through 1921 and $24 a month from 1921 until his death.
Charles attended Confederate and Union veterans reunions. He was believed to be the only person in Georgia to serve in both Armies.
In 1913, Charles traveled to Gettysburg for the 50th anniversary of that famed battle as an honorary member of the United Confederate Veterans. Charles went back to Gettysburg again in 1938 for the 75th anniversary of the battle.
For many years he gave a barbecue on the 4th of July to which his family and white friends were invited."
In 1998, when the African American Civil War Memorial was unveiled in Washington, D.C., Charles’ name was on it. His daughter, Lillie B. Jones was in attendance. Local Vidalia, GA historians, Martha Price Thompson and her son Andrew “Andy” Thompson completed the necessary paperwork to ensure his name was included.
Displayed below are newspaper articles depicting stories of Charles Hicks’ service.
Polly Ann became a prominent mid-wife and delivered babies for many years. She delivered both colored babies and white babies and was well known, loved and remembered by each of them.
Many of the babies she delivered, grew up and attended Hicks family events until they became elderly and passed away. She too is buried in the Jordan Stream church cemetery.
On October 11, 1932, Charles and Polly Ann purchased a sizable parcel of land and designated a portion for the purpose of building a church, establishing a cemetery and providing classroom space for the very first school to educate colored children in the local Toombs county area.
When Charles died, on May 26, 1941, his obituary notice said Charles, age 103, "was a substantial landowner and operated his farm until after he was a hundred years old when his sons gave him such assistance as he needed.”
Charles was actually 102 when he passed away and he was interred in the Jordan Stream church cemetery.
Polly Ann held on to the family farm until her death in 1974. She too was interred in the church cemetery.
After Polly Ann's death and lengthy court proceedings, all of the land, except the church and cemetery, was divided into six parcels and awarded to her six surviving children. Each child received approximately 8.3 acres of land. The church and cemetery was apportioned approximately 2.0 acres.
In 1975, William Hicks, Georgia Mae Dixon and James A. Hicks, Sr. sold their parcels. Allean Mason, Alberta Hicks and Lillie B. Jones kept their land. The Hicks children unanimously agreed to Quitclaim Deed the church and cemetery property to the Jordan Stream church.