John Wesley Fickess (1830)was my great great grandfather. I am from a "lost" branch of family, starting with Ora Ames Fickess, (IA)1880. Someone provided my sister Frances, now deceased, with a picture of JWF and his wife. The entire family was astounded because this wife was shockingly identical in physical appearance to my aunt, Lauretta Fickess Ramirez, now living in Lodi CA.
The point of my response relates to your statement JWF altered the name to identify his line of descendants. That may well be true. The lore I have ALWAYS heard within the family was that JWF married an old maid school teacher who had grown tired of all the dirty jokes the little boys made with her name, when it was FICKAS. Her solution was a change to FICKESS.This would be the antecedent who looks exactly like my Aunt Lauretta.Whichever story is true - could be both - anytime I see the name FICKESS I know it is a comparatively close relative.Robert James Fickess, Nashville TN, 1935