[Rewrite. I got about three paragraphs into it.]
James “Jimmie” Tilton Pickett was born on December 31, 1857, at the Pickett House in Bellingham, WA. He was the first son of General George Pickett and his Native Haida wife, Mrs. Pickett.
When George Pickett resigned his commission to fight with the Confederacy, he left Jimmie behind with a white pioneer couple, William and Catherine Collins. George left Jimmie with the family bible (signed “May the memory of your mother always remain dear. Your father George E. Pickett”) and a few other items, and provided some money to the Collins family for the support of Jimmie until the boy "reached an age when he could merit his own room and board with work on the farm.” Jimmie would never see his father again.
Because of his mixed-race status, young Jimmie Picket did not have many friends. He did however display a strong talent for art at a young age, so much so that he attended the Union Academy in Olympia when he was 19, where he excelled in painting.
Captain George Pickett died in Virginia in 1875. His family was aware of Jimmie but kept him at arm's length. Jimmie met his half-brother, George E Pickett Jr., in San Francisco but the latter spurned him. Jimmie had a correspondence with his father's widow, Sallie Pickett, for a time. When Sallie wrote about her late husband, but then a hero of Confederate Lost Cause mythology, she made up a lie to explain away her husband's eldest son. Captain Pickett, she explained "made the local Indians his friends, learned their languages, built schools for them and taught them…. One of the old chiefs insisted upon making him a present of one of his children."
Jimmie became an illustrator for the San Francisco Times, and later the Seattle Post Intelligencer and the Portland Oregonian. Upon Captain Pickett's death, he and Sallie became embroiled in a legal dispute over the inheritance of some land that Captain Pickett had owned near Fort Bellingham. Sallie eventually surrendered the land to Jimmie for a token payment of $5, perhaps to keep his existence quiet.
Jimmie died in Portland in 1889, of typhoid fever. His obituary in Portland Oregonian lauded him as "a man of far more than ordinary talent." His life, it said, was like "a picture of magnificent conception, laid away half-finished." He was 31 years old.