I was born August 3, 1862 at Salem, Utah County, Utah, a small village by the foothills of Wasatch's towering peaks. At the age of three or four my parents moved to Stewart's Ranch (now Benjamin, Utah) about five or six miles northwest from Salem. I was raised there until I was 18 years of age, then I went to Montana and worked upon the railroad for about 18 months and then returned for the purpose of attending Brigham Young Academy. Up to that time my education had been woefully neglected due to lack of schools and poverty. I was a herd boy from the age of nine until I was 16 years of age. In those wild days of cowboy life, I learned to ride the wildest horses, even the outlaw horses of the desert. My life was as crude as my environment, with all my crudeness I did not profane, use tobacco or liquor.
Mother moved to Provo so her children could go to the Academy in 1881. It was a dream of my life from a boy of 13 years to go to that institution but hope seemed vain. In entering the school a new life enveloped me. I had not been there two weeks until I felt that I could sit down at the feet of those teachers and grow old and never grow weary in listening to the marvelous music of their voices. From that day until this I have been a student or a teacher. At that age I knew nothing of grammar or fractions. That year I roughly completed the 6th, 7th and 8th grades. The next year and half I completed their academic or high school work and then went out to teach. For three years I taught in the grade schools at Provo. I then went back to the Academy one more year and took some advanced work. Then I was called to go to Filmore and take charge of the Millard State Academy. I was there four years.
It was a period of my greatest advancement. I was largely my own tutor. I pushed ahead in Latin, German, English, history, geology, physiology, and astronomy. I taught my assistant teacher Latin and she taught me German. You know the results, a beautiful wife and nine wonderful children.
The spirit of education was upon me. I could hear my call of higher learning from Sinai's heights saying, "Come up hither." I resigned my position as principal of the Millard Stake Academy and went to the University of Michigan. I did work for two degrees (BL and BS) in three years by studying during the summer.
I then returned to Utah and taught in the Brigham Young College at Logan for one year and then was called to be principal of the Oneida Stake Academy at Preston, Idaho. I did so for three years, and resigned to go to the University of Chicago to do work form my Master's degree (AM). I got as far as Salt Lake with bag and baggage and the Presidency of the Church called me to go to the Brigham Young Academy to teach physics which I did for seven years. Then I got a furlough to go to Columbia University of new York City for a year. I was conferred Masters of Art in seven months time. I was called to take charge of the branch of the Brigham Young University (the Academy had been advanced to University a few years before) at Beaver. I did so for four years and resigned to go back to Columbia University to do my work for my doctor's degree (Ph.D.). I completed the work in nine months time though it nearly always takes two years for the completion of this work. My degree was never formally conferred upon me, not that my thesis was inferior or not up to standards for Dr. Cottel and Thorndyke claimed that I was critical and represented a great deal of careful research, but Dr. Cottel said that my findings had overturned their theories of the time and he hesitated to confer the degree. Drs. Woodruff and Thorndyke urged that the degree be conferred as I had proved my thesis. As dr. Cottel desired that I make a short test on forty students which would take me three or four weeks but I told him that I wasn't interested in that though, but I wanted to carry out an experiment on rats, guinea pigs, chickens and dogs which would take 3 o 5 years to complete which would take out of their hands the last excuse. He was much pleased over the though and said that when I was ready they would finance the experiment.
When I got ready to begin the work the World War was on and the University was cramped for money, so they could not back the move for it would take about $50,000. I tried to get money from other sources and the Columbia University tried to aid me in this effort but we were unsuccessful.
I was called back from Columbia in 1912 to take charge of the school of education in the Brigham Young College at Logan, Utah. So I had charge of this work for seven years, and during this time I also taught classes in education and psychology in the Agriculture College for their advanced students. At last I had such a great financial problem on my hands to educate thirteen sons and three daughters, I could not do so as a teacher. I also hoped to send most of them on missions. I was also without a home, so I decided to step out of the limelight into the shadow and push my children into the light. As a result all these sons and daughters have had college education and some are still pursuing their studies. I also have attained a beautiful home.
I commercialized my psychology and applied it in salesmanship. I have been selling insurance for twelve years. I coach agents and place them in my agency. I have earned far more in twelve years of insurance than I did in my twenty odd years of teaching. Yet few teachers had greater joy and success in teaching than I. It was my fore-ordained calling and I sorrowed to leave it. I have been very active in my church work from a youth. Since leaving the school room I have delivered sixty to eighty lectures a year in Utah, Idaho and Nevada. In the year 1927 and 1928 I spent nine months completing research work I had been working on for years on the American Indians to find wherein anthropologists differed or agreed with the Book of Mormon. Up to date my work is only in manuscript form. I hope to have it published in the future. I may say in passing I have kept a journal of my life for over forty years. I have also written thesis and articles which have been published in local and foreign magazines.
posted by Vivian Karen (Hickman) Bush, great grand-daughter of Josiah E. Hickman