Caroline Hickson Kennedy, 53, was sister to fellow passenger Kathryn Hickson. Caroline and Kathryn were two of at least seven children, all girls and one boy, Richard. Their father was a cobbler and was said to have a drinking problem. Caroline, called Carrie, Kathryn, called Kate, and Richard went into business in women's fashion with Hickson and Co. in 1902 at 657 5th Avenue, New York City, New York. 657 Fifth Avenue was the former residence of Madame Restell, America's first millionaire abortionist. The Hicksons' customers included Julian Etinge, the famous female impersonator.
To establish Richard in the business of women's apparel, Carrie had advanced Richard $800 to start. Carrie joined the company with a starting salary of $2,600 a year plus expenses, which had increased to $5,000 by 1915. Kate had a similar salary, but most of the income, $30,000 yearly, went to Richard. Richard attributed Hickson's success to Carrie's business acumen, and the profit for Hickson and Co. by the end of 1915 was $125,587.56.
Carrie was a rather formidable woman and may have been widowed by the time of the Lusitania disaster. Carrie was a hat designer and made Atlantic crossings on a regular basis. She was on her way to Paris for the spring shows and new designs, and brought Kate along for her first trip to Europe. They were in cabin B 26 for which they paid $360.
Whereas Carrie was characterized as "formidable," Kate was known in the family to be the more reserved sister. She had been born with a birth defect where one of her arms was not fully developed. Kathryn had worked as a milliner for Hickson's, and by the time of her death, she had not been married.
On the day of the Lusitania's last departure, a Hernon cousin of the Hickson sisters went down to the ship and begged Kate and Carrie not to go. The Germans had put a notice in the newspapers saying that the Lusitania was a hostile ship and the Germans could torpedo it. Carrie's famous reply was, "They wouldn't dare!"
Lost with them was a wardrobe and jewelry collection valued at $14,000.00. This was all the money Richard Hickson would be awarded in his civil suit after the sinking. A body identified as Carrie's was recovered (#160) and returned to New York aboard the Cymric on 2 June 1915. The badly crushed remains makes it unclear whether the body was actually Carrie's or Kate's. The condition of the body indicates that the sisters were killed by an errant lifeboat that had swung inboard due to the Lusitania's extreme list, crushing several people that were on deck in between the boat and the lounge bulkhead.
Richard Hickson, described by the family as a "waistral," was not able to manage Hickson and Co. without Carrie. Richard withdrew $50 000.00 from the company to start a fashion magazine which turned out to be "a complete failure and the investment a total loss." Without Carrie's guidance, Richard drove the business into the ground, and Hickson and Co. was gone by 1920