The Pickett House MuseumPermalink +
Sun, Jan 25, 2015, 12:32 pm // Guest writer
The Pickett House Museum
Adventures of George Pickett in the Pacific Northwest Wilderness
By Kamalla Kaur
Captain George Pickett, Pioneer Soldier
It is over 150 years since the Battle at Gettysburg. During the Civil War my hometown of Bellingham, Washington, then called Whatcom, was wilderness, accessible only by water, far away from the conflict. Located in Washington Territory at the extreme northwest corner of our Union, only the Lummi and Nooksack Indians, a few white settlers, and a military fort existed here. Yet Fort Bellingham was built by 68 soldiers under the command of Captain George Pickett - the same George Pickett who a few years later became a famous general in the Confederate Army - the same George Pickett who on July, 3, 1863, following orders from General Robert E. Lee, made that disastrous bloody charge at Gettysburg.
In 1856, prior to the Civil War, Captain George Pickett and the men of Company D arrived by boat from Fort Steilacoom (95 nautical miles south of Bellingham Bay). Their orders were to protect white settlers and the Lummis from the raiding Northern Indians, Haida and others, who paddled from what is now British Columbia and Alaska in their massive war canoes. Pickett was also sent to Bellingham Bay to keep an eye on the British. He built Fort Bellingham and a military road to assert the United State's claim to the new territory.
On August 11, 1857, a year after Pickett arrived in Whatcom, Colonel Issac Ebey, a pioneer from Whidbey Island, (47 nautical miles south of Bellingham Bay), was shot and beheaded by Indians suspected of being Haida. The following year, in the summer of 1858, huge war canoes with fifty warriors or more per boat appeared in the San Juan Islands like sea monsters searching for prey. Massacre Bay, Haida Point, and Skull Island are clustered landmarks around Orcas Island reminding us of the attack where a hundred Lummis were slaughtered at their summer camp and many others enslaved.
Of course, the handful of white people who lived in Whatcom (Bellingham) were grateful for Pickett's leadership and protection. In an attempt to lure George Pickett – a hard drinking, hard gambling, charismatic and socially adept Southern gentleman – to live in town instead of the Fort, the settlers constructed a sturdy and appealing little house for him. It was built with eighteen-inch wide Douglas fir planks that had been sawed at one of the settlers first businesses, the Roeder/Peabody Lumber Mill. Nestled on the cliff among tall timber, it sported lots of precious window glass. The settlers poured their hearts and resources into building Pickett's small home.
Originally, Pickett's house had two main rooms, one in front and one in back, with a ladder up to a spacious second floor that was probably used for storage. There was a kitchen lean-to on the side of the house, which was later incorporated into the main building. The back door, mudroom, and tiny kitchen were added sometime after 1900. Even with additions, the present-day Pickett House is less than 1000 square feet and is stuffed with Victorian furniture donated by the last owner of the house, Hattie Strother. When Hattie, a seamstress, died in 1936 she deeded the Pickett House to the Washington State Historical Society and its contents to the Daughters of the Pioneers of Washington, Whatcom Chapter 5. In 1941 the Pickett House became a museum under the care of women whose ancestors settled here before 1871.
Pickett's Indian Wife and Their Gifted Artist Son
George Pickett lived in the little house with his second wife. There is no record of her name, but many think she was Haida, possibly the daughter of an enemy chief. One novelist named her "Morning Mist," but the settlers and Lummis simply called her Mrs. Pickett. George Pickett, his Virginia family, and the white settlers left no record of her other than that Pickett cared for her until she died a few months after the birth of their son, James Tilton Pickett, who was born on December 31, 1857.
In 1861, George Pickett left the Pacific Northwest to return to his family home in Virginia and join the Confederacy. Prior to leaving, he placed Jimmie Pickett, age 3 1/2, with a white foster family at Grand Mound, Washington Territory (near Olympia). George Pickett acknowledged Jimmie as his son and supported him financially, but never saw him again.
Jimmie Pickett graduated from Union Academy in Olympia and later attended art school in California. He became a notable Pacific Northwest painter and worked as a staff artist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Portland Oregonian newspapers. Jimmie died of typhoid and tuberculosis in a Portland boarding house on August 18, 1889; he was 31. Legend says that as he lay dying, Jimmie gazed at his father’s cavalry sword – the sword General George Pickett likely wore at the Battle of Gettysburg. LaSalle Pickett (Pickett’s third wife) sent the sword to Jimmie in 1875 after his father’s death. The sword disappeared right after Jimmie died, most likely stolen.
The Pickett House Museum Today
More than 150 years after the Battle of Gettysburg, the Pickett House still sits quietly, humble yet proud. Once it stood alone enjoying a great view of Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands. Now, the little house is crowded in among office buildings, houses and apartments atop Bellingham’s Peabody Hill.
On the second Sunday of every month, Whatcom Chapter 5 of the Daughters of the Pioneers of Washington opens the Pickett House to the public. It is the oldest building in town and the oldest documented wooden building still sitting on its original site in Washington State. You can also tour the Pickett House by appointment. Donations are the sole source of revenue to cover maintenance costs.
Entering through the back door, through the musty mudroom and into the little kitchen addition, I arrive to give tours. I've become a Friend of the Pickett House and a Friend of the Daughters of the Pioneers so I can help care for the oldest of all houses in Bellingham, so I can experience this time machine again and again.
Edradine Hovde, Vice President of Whatcom Chapter 5, gathers visitors onto the front porch. She explains the porch was not part of the original structure, but since enclosed, has protected the front of this historic home from the weather. A retired schoolteacher wearing a period costume, Edradine tells the story of Captain Pickett and his days in Washington Territory. She is a descendent of a local pioneer family who settled here in 1855 from New Brunswick. She effortlessly and lovingly shares stories of George Pickett’s life here with his Indian wife in the years right before the Civil War. He was among our earliest pioneers and, with his wife, had an important son right here in this small dwelling.
After Edradine's introduction, visitors enter the small rooms and tour freely. I mingle and show anyone interested my favorite exhibits: the big photo of Jimmie Pickett's Chinese chest, which came to him from his mother and is similar to ones sold by the Hudson Bay Company at the time; photos of Jimmie Pickett; and reproductions of some of his paintings.
There is a model of the Fort Bellingham Blockhouse made by a boy from the 1930s out of bits of wood he found at the old Fort Bellingham site.
"His name was Jim Rinehart. He was 12 years old," Susan Hess, president of Whatcom Chapter 5, shares with a visitor. "He was the son of one of our charter members, Cecil Stenger Rinehart, whose grandparents rented the Pickett House after George Pickett left. Cecil remembered as a young child hearing stories of the cougars that used to lie on the roof of the lean-to for warmth in the winter."
Susan is the great-great-grand niece of Phoebe Judson, the pioneer mother of nearby Lynden, Washington, who in her nineties wrote the regional classic, "A Pioneer's Search For an Ideal Home." It’s the story of Phoebe's journey west via wagon train and her life in the Pacific Northwest wilderness.
"There is nothing left of Fort Bellingham except for a road named after it," Susan continues. "But Pickett himself moved some of Fort Bellingham to San Juan Island, by barge, in 1859 to defend the settlers - the boundary dispute later called the Pig War. Both American Camp and the British Camp are preserved at San Juan National Historical Park, on San Juan Island."
"The great thing about the Pig War is that only the pig died," I say, jumping into the conversation. "It was a British pig who pillaged an American settler's garden. Captain Pickett and his 68 men successfully faced down three British warships, the HMS Tribune, HMS Satellite and HMS Plumper, and 1000 British troops. Pickett told his men, “Don't be afraid of their big guns. We'll make a Bunker Hill of it.' But, thankfully, President James Buchanan sent Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott to stop further escalation of the conflict."
I notice three children peering into the large diorama of Pickett's Charge from the Battle of Gettysburg.
"Down here at the base of the hill, is General George Pickett on his sleek black charger, his horse named Old Black." I show them. "His men, the Confederates, are wearing the gray uniforms. The Union soldiers are in blue. See how much better a position the blue side has? Almost every soldier in gray, almost all Pickett's men, died in this battle. It is one of the most famous battles in our country's history and the turning point in the Civil War, when the Union side began to win the war."
"They all died?"
"Of the soldiers fighting under General George Pickett's command at Gettysburg, 498 were killed, 643 wounded, 833 wounded and captured, and 681 captured, but unwounded."
"They died," whisper the kids, moving around the scene, looking at it from every angle. I share their fascination and horror, the same fascination and horror felt by General Robert E. Lee, President Abraham Lincoln, General George E. Pickett and the generations of citizens who have since contemplated what happened during those three bloody days at Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863.
Before turning my attention to other visitors, I suggest to the children, "Visit Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, someday and see for yourself where this battle took place. You can tell people there that you have been to The Pickett House in Bellingham, Washington!"
The Pickett House Museum is open to the public for tours every second Sunday of the month from 1p.m. - 4p.m., or by private appointment.
Donations to help the Daughters of the Pioneers of Washington State, Whatcom Chapter 5 preserve and maintain the Pickett House Museum can be sent to:
DPW Whatcom Chapter 5
PO Box 5183
Bellingham. WA 98227-5183
Sun, Jan 25, 2015, 12:32 pm // Guest writerAdventures of George Pickett in the Pacific Northwest Wilderness
5 comments; last on Jan 28, 2015
Sat, Sep 28, 2013, 3:20 pm // John ServaisAs the right wing radicals seek to shut down our national government this week, we need to push back with common sense.
8 comments; last on Oct 01, 2013
Mon, Jun 10, 2013, 1:53 pm // John ServaisEdward Snowden is a very courageous patriot, in the opinion of the publisher of NWCitizen.
3 comments; last on Jun 14, 2013
Fri, May 24, 2013, 1:18 am // Guest writerMarian Beddill provides a general guide for the public, with a look at the history of water rights in Washington state.
4 comments; last on May 26, 2013
Sat, Apr 14, 2012, 4:09 pm // John ServaisThe Titanic struck the iceberg at 11:40 p.m. This post is non political - unless you want to draw a parallel with recent Port of Bellingham events.
Sat, Nov 05, 2011, 6:14 am // Riley SweeneyRemember, remember the fifth of November . . .
Wed, Feb 02, 2011, 10:22 am // John ServaisEgypt - just one citizen voicing his perspective on what is happening. Speaking freely.
4 comments; last on Feb 07, 2011
Mon, May 10, 2010, 6:44 am // Riley SweeneyRiley Sweeney asks for plot ideas for a local radio drama
Wed, Mar 31, 2010, 11:30 pm // Kamalla Rose KaurThe Creation of The Whatcom Museum and the Restoration of Bellingham's 1892 City Hall
1 comments; last on Apr 02, 2010
Thu, Dec 24, 2009, 10:21 pm // Kamalla Rose KaurHoliday Album 2009 - mixing conversations and prose, Charles Dickens quotes, with history provided by the National Museum of Women's History.
1. "I will honour Christmas in my heart,
2 comments; last on Dec 26, 2009
Sun, Dec 06, 2009, 3:04 pm // Paul deArmond(Recap for the reader in a hurry: a previous post defined realignment as a power shift in a two party system whereby a new and
17 comments; last on Dec 09, 2009
Sat, Dec 05, 2009, 9:00 am // Tip JohnsonI always hate public issues that involve decades of history and require integration of multiple points. I refer to it as 'the indignity of explanation.' Public interest advocates…
9 comments; last on Dec 09, 2009
Fri, Nov 20, 2009, 11:06 am // Paul deArmondDid you every wonder what was really going on inside the racist right?
Usually caricatured by stereotypes of bed-sheeted Klansmen and goose-stepping neo-Nazis, the racist right continu
8 comments; last on Dec 05, 2009
Wed, Nov 18, 2009, 8:59 am // Kamalla Rose KaurWhat a difficult time to be the (new to this region) president of Western Washington University. In his autumn address to faculty and staff, Bruce Shepard laments, "While…
Mon, Nov 09, 2009, 11:03 am // Paul deArmondAmerican politics and its two-party system is not a static system.
The ebb and flow of political power proceeds in fits and starts with long periods of relative…
8 comments; last on Nov 10, 2009
Sat, Oct 10, 2009, 9:00 am // Kamalla Rose KaurDr. Linda Allen takes the long way home to Bellingham once again as she tours the nooks and crannies of Washington State in 2010 with a multi-media presentation…
Mon, Sep 21, 2009, 2:32 pm // Guest writerEditor's Note: We received this Letter to the Editor in response to Kamalla Rose Kaur's earlier story, 3 comments; last on Oct 24, 2009
Mon, Sep 07, 2009, 2:17 pm // Kamalla Rose Kaur“In our different excursions, particularly those in the neighborhood of Port Discovery, the skulls, limbs, ribs, and backbones, or some other vestiges of the human body, were found…
Sat, Aug 08, 2009, 3:04 pm // Kamalla Rose KaurThe people behind Bellingham's colorful history matter - just like it matters that Pierre Charles L'Enfant designed Washington DC and that Thomas Jefferson created the University of Virginia.…
4 comments; last on Aug 10, 2009
Mon, Jul 27, 2009, 1:21 am // Kamalla Rose Kaur"In a society of free men (and women) the proper aim of education is to prepare an individual to make wise decisions. All else is but contributory."
2 comments; last on Aug 02, 2009
Sun, Jul 12, 2009, 4:37 pm // Kamalla Rose Kaur"Our friend had found two acres at the foot of Sehome Hill, one a little fir-clad knoll, the other a level acre of meadow and garden. If we…
7 comments; last on Oct 23, 2009
Sat, Jul 04, 2009, 4:06 pm // John Servais
Salute to the 4th of July and our celebration of Independence from foreign governance, invasion or control. May we some day have the wisdom to grant the same…
2 comments; last on Jul 05, 2009
Wed, Jul 01, 2009, 7:39 pm // Kamalla Rose KaurInterim Editor's Note: Hi. John Servais, the esteemed publisher, will be back from vacation soon and I had very little to do while appointed interim editor of Northwest…
9 comments; last on Jul 11, 2009
Wed, Apr 02, 2008, 7:36 pm // John ServaisIn April, 1908, the farmers just northeast of Bellingham - along and north of the current Mt. Baker Highway - organized their own Grange. The highway was not…
Tue, Jan 08, 2008, 8:18 pm // John ServaisOK, we are running on the new server. And the design and programming are going well. I have cautious hope the transformed site will be running by early…
Sun, Aug 26, 2007, 4:41 am // Site ManagementNew city of Bellingham website? (link disabled Mon morn) Sure looks like it. Check it out. I wouldn't want to lie.
-- Late Sun night. Does the city read…
Wed, Jul 04, 2007, 6:33 pm // Site ManagementHappy Independence Day. To all people residing in the United States, may you have a fun day and may you benefit from the principles of freedom, justice and…
Fri, Feb 23, 2007, 5:38 pm // Site ManagementEllen Murphy's court date has been changed. Her jury trial will be on Tuesday, March 20 ( not Feb 27 as posted below last week). It was changed…
Thu, Jan 25, 2007, 6:18 pm // John ServaisToday's Bellingham Herald editorial invites an answer. The editorial is good in that it reflects on past bad practices, like allowing GP to dump mercury into Bellingham Bay,…
Sun, Nov 19, 2006, 4:17 pm // Tip JohnsonMilton Friedman died at 94 years of age last week. Friedman was the maverick economist who implemented monetarist policies beginning with the administrations of Ronald Reagan and Margaret…
Sat, Oct 28, 2006, 5:26 pm // John ServaisDid Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad shoot and wound Margot in Bellingham back in 2002? NwCitizen raised this question in October 2002 and Bellingham Police Chief…
Mon, Sep 11, 2006, 7:51 pm // Site ManagementWhat NWCitizen posted on Sept 11, 2001 seems to have stood the test of time. The cautions and concerns about democracy and hate were relevant considering the hate…
Mon, Mar 13, 2006, 3:10 pm // Site Managementof course. Today American baseball umpire Bob Davidson nicely reversed a call in the new Baseball Classic which gave the American team a win over the Japanese -…
Sat, Nov 12, 2005, 3:55 pm // Site ManagementGW Bush says we critics of his war are rewriting history. He says no one knew the intelligence was false in the spring of 2003 and going to…
Mon, Jul 04, 2005, 5:15 pm // Site ManagementHappy Fourth. In his speech today, Bush is comparing his criminal war in Iraq to our fight for Independence two hundred years ago. Well, here is a more…
Sun, Jun 12, 2005, 5:35 pm // Site ManagementChuckanut Ridge is a controversy now - and it is deja vu of 1996. On October '96, NwCitizen broke new information and posted three reports that helped to…
Mon, Oct 18, 2004, 9:37 pm // Site ManagementThe beauty of a website is you don't force yourself on others. I got an email today from TL - and he graciously gave me the email addresses…
Fri, Aug 27, 2004, 5:42 pm // John ServaisHow did Bush get in the National Guard and avoid Vietnam?
Let the truth prevail. What is wrong with the Swift Boat ads that trash Kerry's Vietnam record? Is…
Sun, Aug 22, 2004, 6:13 pm // John ServaisThe Bush campaign machine's smear of Kerry's service record is beginning to backfire. Soon, when attention is turned to Bush's record, watch the Republicans scream foul. None screamed…
Mon, Aug 02, 2004, 6:33 pm // John ServaisThe Mercury Study by the U.S. Geological Survey has been released. It is available as a PDF file download at:
Mon, Jul 12, 2004, 6:42 pm // John ServaisWell, no surprise. And not even close to the extreme measures the weird people behind Bush will go to in order to avoid being thrown out of office.…
Thu, Jun 10, 2004, 7:10 pm // John Servaisand we will suffer for it. Reagan did not win the Cold War. Communism was systemically fatal - just as all the conservatives kept saying. Reagan did do…
Wed, May 12, 2004, 8:01 pm // John ServaisIt is to cause extreme physical or mental pain for punishment or to extract a confession or information. Our government officials are now saying we do not torture…
Thu, Feb 19, 2004, 8:35 pm // John ServaisDean link is moved down as his website will continue to push for change in this country. Kucinich link is at top as he needs to be heard…
Thu, Jan 08, 2004, 10:18 pm // John ServaisWe read that 35 US soldiers were "hit" in Iraq yesterday. When our Bellingham Herald does print war casualties on the front page, the choice of words seeks…
Sun, Dec 14, 2003, 4:17 pm // John Servaisis the end of one chapter and the beginning of another for Iraq and also for the United States.
If your reaction to reading those words is "dahhh" then…
Tue, Dec 02, 2003, 4:32 pm // John ServaisI urge you to visit the independent websites that report on events in Iraq. Independent being those not owned by US corporate media, such as CNN, Fox, MSNbc,…
Wed, Nov 05, 2003, 6:13 pm // John ServaisThose not sure just vote for the person in office, preferring a sure thing to an unknown. I give my respect to those who took the challenge and…
Thu, Oct 16, 2003, 7:13 pm // John ServaisTip Johnson has written the best analysis of the mayor Mark's record that will appear anywhere. Tip, a hero to local environmentalists and liberals, takes an honest and…
Sun, Oct 05, 2003, 8:12 pm // John ServaisWe need one to follow Asmundson during the next three weeks - and to nudge the Herald to do minimal checking of facts before publishing. I'm referring to…
Fri, Sep 26, 2003, 3:17 pm // John ServaisAll week I'm hearing from political pros how Mark will still beat Brett for mayor. Mark is too smooth, they say. Mark knows what to say in every…
Tue, Sep 16, 2003, 4:17 pm // John ServaisThe Auditor will post election results in almost-real time this evening. First post should be about 8:15, and because of the very few races the evening count may…
Fri, Aug 29, 2003, 4:54 pm // John ServaisYou would think the Port of Bellingham getting a windfall of $17 million would be news. But since posting that here - and scooping the paid news media…
Tue, Jul 29, 2003, 5:39 pm // John ServaisThey are proposing a future's market on terrorism, assassinations, atrocities and war. These guys figure out a way to make money on most anything. So this is their…
Wed, Apr 09, 2003, 7:58 pm // John ServaisI can write for myself.
We have liberated Iraq. Now we should work to allow them to rule themselves. We should turn their country over to them quickly. We…
Sun, Apr 06, 2003, 4:18 pm // John Servaisbetween local and national. Today, Local is down a bit.
Huge battle for Baghdad airport raging right now - yet our American "news" media are not reporting it. Our…
Thu, Apr 03, 2003, 8:38 pm // John ServaisWar. The rescue of Jessica was a very slick operation. Now we learn that she fought as a true soldier before her capture. This highly technical operation is…
Election InfoCounty Candidate Filings
State Elections Website
Whatcom County Elections
Coal, Oil & TrainsCoal Stop
Community Wise Bham
Powder River Basin R. C.
Local Blogs & NewsBellingham Herald
Bham Business Journal
Bham Politics & Econ
Bhm Herald Politics Blog
Friends of Whatcom
Get Whatcom Planning
League of Women Voters
Western Front - WWU
Local CausesChuckanut C. Forest
City Club of Bellingham
Futurewise - Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
N. Cascades Audubon
NW Holocaust Center
Salish Sea Org.
Save the Granary
WA Conservation Voters
Whatcom Peace & Justice
Port of Bellingham
State Elections Website
US - The White House
WA State Access
WA State Elections
WA State Legislature
Weather & ClimateCliff Mass Weather Blog
Nat Hurricane Center
Two day forecast
Watts Up With That?
Edge of Sports
Famous Internet Skiers
Good Web SitesAl-Jazeera online
Change The Mascot
Foreign Policy in Focus
Julia Ioffe/New Republic
Middle East Times
New American Century
Personal bio info
Portland Indy Media
Project Vote Smart
Stand for the Troops
Talking Points Memo
The Crisis Papers
War and Piece
NWCitizen 1995-2007Early Northwest Citizen
Quiet, Offline or DeadBellingham Register
Citizens of Bellingham
Cordata & Meridian
Facebook Port Reform
Intrnational Herald Tribune
N. Sound Conservancy
No Leaky Buckets
Protect Bellingham Parks
The American Telegraph