James Pickett, born December 31, 1857. He was the first born son of George E Picket from Pickett’s second marriage to Sâkis Tiigang, her name translated means (Mist lying down) Sâkis Tiigang was allegedly from the Kaigani Haidas that lived in Semiahmoo. Unfortunately Sâkis Tiigang developed complications during childbirth in which she never recovered, she died several weeks after the birth of James. It is claimed that George Pickett was inconsolable with grief, for four years George looked after young James but there were times when he had to take a number of postings because he was on active duty, on those occasions he would send his son to stay with his Indian grandmother.
The fall of fort Sumter was a turning point in the life of both James and for George it meant that George was faced with a dilemma, he could remain where he was and raise his son or he could return home to Virginia, moving James to Virginia was deemed by George not to be an option because James was of mixed race. George eventually made the decision to send James to live with Catherine and William Collins, his upbringing would be overseen by Major James Tilton ‘James was given Major Tilton’s surname as his middle name’.
Pickett was satisfied that James would be well taken care of, he had made arrangements for money to be sent to James via Major Tilton and with the welfare of James assured George headed back to Virginia, sadly he was never to see James again.
So, what became of James.
It is said that James was a painfully shy child who shunned social occasions, it’s said that he had few friends and that he could best be described as a loner. There was one area that James excelled in and that was art. From a very young age James enjoyed drawing, paper and pencils were in short supply but he would use lumps of charcoal from log fires and he would use any plain wooden surface to draw his pictures. James became so proficient in his drawings that the Collins family decided that he should be sent to the Union academy in Olympia Washington, James attended the academy in 1876 when he was 19 years old. His talent for art was quickly noticed, he specialised in paintings of mountains, seascapes,ships and birds.
After spending three years at the Olympia academy he went on to attend further training at an art school in California and this is where he met his half brother George E Pickett Jr. it is alleged that Pickett Jr May have shown some contempt towards James because of his mixed race, the two brothers had a falling out and never spoke to each other again. It’s rumoured that James was offered money to stay away from the Pickett family especially during Pickett family gatherings.
As time progressed James became highly aware of his mixed race heritage so much so that he never married and never had children, his own experiences of being mixed race was something that he did not want any child to experience. He was isolated from the Pickett family and despite the attempt made by Picketts third wife (LaSalle) who offered to pay for him to attend formal art training James declined, when James became seriously ill, LaSalle again offered to help, she wanted to bring him South for medical treatment but again he declined.
As an adult, James managed to provide for himself, as an accomplished artist he took jobs with various newspapers where he worked as a reporter and artist, one of his paintings was used on the cover of an art magazine.
Following the death of his father in 1875, James was given his fathers cavalry sabre as a keepsake, James Tilton Pickett died at home age 32, beside his bed was a painting of a shipwreck that he’d recently completed and his fathers cavalry sabre, those two objects were placed at his bedside by his own request.