LOOKING BACK: The people behind one of Vicksburg’s iconic homes

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, June 28, 2023

By Nancy Bell | Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation

The Hicks-Steigleman House is a Greek Revival house on the northeast corner of Main and Cherry streets.

It was built most likely between 1844 and 1847 by Martha M. and Dr. Benjamin Iverson Hicks. Dr. Hicks was in practice with a number of physicians including Dr. Nailer and Dr. Lightcap, and was a city councilman and chairman of the committee on health for the city.

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Martha and Benjamin had four children: John R., William A., Joseph T. and Benjamin I. On Oct. 15, 1848, Dr. Hicks died of Yellow Fever at the age of 37.

An obituary in the Vicksburg Daily Whig stated that “Dr. Hicks will not soon be forgotten by those who knew him. He had been endowed with a vigorous mind, ready in perception, prompt in decision and sound in judgment. His disposition was most amiable. He was kind to all men, generous to an extreme, mild, placid, never irritable, never suffering his passions to overleap his good sense. His whole deportment seemed to be controlled by that genuine politeness which respects the feelings of others, and constantly seeks to give pleasure to all within its sphere of action.”

Martha was named the executrix of her husband’s estate and auctioned his medicines, medical equipment and his horse in 1849 and then auctioned a piece of property further east on Main Street. She and the children continued to live in the house until it was sold to the Magdelin and Frederick Steigleman in 1859 for $5,800.

Martha outlived her nine brothers and sisters and her four children, passing away on May 27, 1906. Two of her children, William and Joseph, died during the Civil War. Dr. John Hicks died in 1878 at the age of 38 and Benjamin died in 1891.

Martha left behind four living grandchildren: Dr. G.Y. Hicks, Dr. B.I. Hicks, Ida Hodge and Lily Henry. She also left behind four great-grandchildren.

Frederick Steigleman appears in Vicksburg as early as 1839 as the proprietor of the Union Hotel. In 1840, he advertised the hotel for rent as “large and well-fitted for tavern and boarding house with stables and cistern.”

In 1841, he sold dry ash wood and Pittsburg coal from his company, Steigleman and Company. In 1843, he advertised his livery stable, Buchanan and Steigleman’s Livery, at the waterfront. Steigleman was elected a city councilman in 1847.

In July 1850, he opened a new stable at Mississippi Springs, “a popular resort,” according to the Vicksburg Tri-Weekly Sentinel. The ad stated that they furnished “carriages, barouches, buggies and saddlehorses.”

In August of the same year his stables at the waterfront burned and the “Gem Exchange” appears to have been built in the location, selling leather and other goods. Steigleman and a partner, Guthrie, reopened “a popular and well-known Auguste Corner Restaurant” in November 1855.

Frederick died in 1864, but members of his family continued to live in the house at least through 1929. In 1935, there are a number of nurses living here. The Raphael Franco family lived here in the 1970s. The house was hit by the 1953 tornado and lost its end chimneys, but it retains its historic presence on Main Street today.