Jacob Bickler, teacher and school administrator, son of Peter and Katherine (Schöffling) Bickler, was born in Sobernheim, now in the Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, on November 20, 1849. At the age of fourteen, he went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to live with his father and stepmother. There he attended public school and Markham's Milwaukee Academy. He received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin in 1870 and an M.A. in 1871. In 1871–72 he was principal of the La Crosse, Wisconsin, public school.
Bickler moved to Austin in 1872 and was associated with his uncle, Philip Bickler, as a teacher in Bickler German-English Academy until April 1, 1873, when he was appointed assistant draftsman and calculator in the General Land Office of Texas. There he met Martha Lungkwitz, eldest daughter of artist Hermann Lungkwitz. They were married on January 24, 1874, in Austin, and eventually became the parents of nine children. In 1877 in Austin Bickler founded the Texas German and English Academy, a boys' school, which he successfully operated for ten years. He accepted the superintendency of Galveston public schools in 1887, returned to Austin in 1892, and founded Bickler Academy, a coeducational school, which flourished until his death. The curricula of his schools included many languages as well as music and liberal arts courses.
Bickler was fluent in six languages, his lectures were erudite and animated, and he was known as an outstanding teacher in preparing students for college work. Many graduates of his schools became leaders in professions and business. A school in Austin was named for him. He was a member of the National Teachers Association and the Texas State Teachers Association, of which he was president in 1887. He wrote and presented a resolution at the 1891 association meeting calling upon the board of regents of the University of Texas in Austin to establish a chair of pedagogy (later the School of Education) at the university, and this was accomplished within a few months. Bickler was a member of the summer faculty at the University of Texas. He also conducted summer classes at Fredericksburg and Mason. He died in Austin on April 30, 1902, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.