Hickinbotham Brothers, a supplier of steel, industrial supplies, and hardware is one of Stockton, California's, oldest and
most venerable businesses. The Hickinbotham Brothers Collection includes a sample of published advertising material, a history,
catalogs, and lists of products that afford glimpses not only into the company's operations, but also into the kinds of products
it purchased for retail and sold throughout much of the twentieth century.
Hickinbotham Brothers traces its origins to California’s Gold Rush Era and the westward movement of two brothers native to
New York: Edwin Hickinbotham (1831-1891) and John Tunnicliff Hickinbotham (1829-1893). The Hickinbotham brothers had been
trained as carriage makers in Richfield Springs, New York, and they sensed a need for blacksmiths, wagon makers, and harness
makers soon after they arrived in California. In 1852, they settled in Stockton, formed a partnership, and became “importers
and dealers in all kinds of wagon and carriage lumber.” The partnership ended in 1855 with the withdrawal of Edwin due to
sickness, but the company continued under the leadership of John and other family members. Gradually, it shifted its focus
from wood materials to heavy hardware. In 1931, three descendents, John Cyrus Hickinbotham (1894-1945), Leland French Hickinbotham
(1897-1949), and Ralph West Hickinbotham (1897-1951), incorporated the company as Hickinbotham Brothers, Limited. During the
Second World War, Hickinbotham Brothers Construction Division built landing barges, floating cranes, steel tugs and supply
vessels for the U.S. government. The corporation continued to operate under family leadership until the mid-1990s, when it
merged with Ferro Union, Incorporated.