Thomas Hickling was an energetic businessman from Boston who moved to the Azores in 1770. He left in Massachusetts a wife and two children to start a new life in the Atlantic.
Not long after arriving in the archipelago, Hickling left a legacy that can still be visited today, including a rock with his name carved into it and the date "1770" near one of the hot volcanic pools in the spa town of Furnas, Yankee Hall, and the former Hotel Sao Pedro in Ponta Delgada.
He is also responsible for starting what is now the Botanical Garden at what would become the Terra Nostra Hotel, in Furnas. Enchanted by the beauty of the surroundings, he decided to build his summerhouse there, which became known as "Yankee Hall.” Almost 200 years after it became the genesis of the now well-known Terra Nostra Park. An English oak planted by Hickling can still be seen there today in the enchanting park..
While spending his life in the Portuguese islands he was a pioneer in the thriving orange trade between the Azores, England and Russia becoming one of the wealthiest men of the time in the Azores.
In 1795 when he was appointed Honorary Consul in São Miguel, President George Washington also appointed John Street as the first official U.S. Consul to the Azores. Ever since there has been a U.S. representative in Ponta Delgada, the oldest continuously operating U.S. Consulate in the world.
Hickling sent a letter to George Washington in 1790 requesting to be considered as a future Consul (it can be read here.) One of the arguments was his knowledge of Portuguese language as well as local laws and customs.
Thomas Hickling later married again with Sara Falder, an American from Philadelphia who washed up in the Azores after a shipwreck. They had 14 children in São Miguel.