Of the Kansans who attended the officers training school at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, Lee J. Hicks was the only one who would be commissioned a captain — all the others were 1st or 2nd lieutenants.  Of 626 commissions given, only 104 were for captains.

Attending the training school required either being a college graduate or a non-commissioned officer.  In Hicks case, he was a graduate of the now defunct Western University at Quindaro.  From there he went to Tuskegee University, where he reportedly was the secretary to the brother of Booker T. Washington.

Hicks was born in Kansas — apparently in Ottawa, where he was raised — on September 13, 1893.  His war service was as a captain in the 317th Ammunition Train of the 92nd Division.

After the war he was the financial secretary at the Industrial & Education Institute in Topeka, which as the newspapers described it, was “for colored people.”  He married in 1921 to Castella V. Reed.  By the 1930 Census, he was in Los Angeles working as a clerk in the post office.

Hicks died in Los Angeles on August 3, 1972.  I believe there is a possibility that his descendants in the Los Angeles area might see this, and if they do, I invite and encourage you to tell us more about your ancestor–with our thanks!

Continuing the recognition of African Americans from Kansas who attended the officers’ training school at Fort Des Moines, Iowa:  https://www.kansasww1.org/the-african-american-soldier-kansans-at-fort-des-moines/

Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.