|Birth: ||Mar. 15, 1818|
New Hampshire, USA
|Death: ||Nov. 12, 1877|
John Edmunds Pickernell was born in Wendall, New Hampshire, on September 5, 1818, coming to Oregon in 1837 as a young man employed by the Hudson Bay Company. When the company pulled out, John remained behind with his wife and family.
In Yamhill county he married Emmeline Redhead in 1838 and had four children. For many years he acted as pilot on the lower Columbia, operating tow and passenger boats through that dangerous channel. Many serious wrecks had taken place at the mouth of the river, and often boats would anchor and wait for weeks before daring to venture across the bar. For several years he was one of only three white men living in what is now Pacific county, Washington, on the north shore of the Columbia.
Pickernell enlisted in the Oregon Rangers, March 9, 1844, the first military organization. In an attempt to maintain law and order in 1845, Pickernell, or Edmunds as he was then known, was sworn in as deputy to arrest one Joe' Turnham who had made a vicious and unprovoked attack upon Webley Hauxhurst. The attempted arrest resulted in a regular pitched battle, and finally, to save his own life, Edmunds was obliged to fire upon his assailant, killing him. Edmunds was exonerated and no charge brought against him.
Judge Thornton in his Oregon and California, published in 1849, narrates in diary form a thrilling incident on the start of his journey to Washington as a delegate from Oregon. He states, under date of October 30, 1847, that "Mr. Edmunds (Pickernell), a worthy and enterprising man, came alongside our vessel in a whale-boat with a seaman, Mr. Reeves, while we were anchored above Tongue Point. They came aboard and left shortly and hoisted sail although a violent gale was blowing at the time. We thought they were acting imprudently in doing so, but saw them at length take it in. In a few minutes they were again seen to hoist their sail." The weather was cold and rainy and a severe gale was blowing. It transpired that battling with the storm the boat capsized, but the men with difficulty succeeded in climbing on it. There they "made every demonstration in their power" to call attention to their plight, but in vain. Although there were three vessels within sight, none saw the helpless seamen, and they were abandoned to their fate. Reeves after five hours of exposure slipped into the water and was drowned. Edmunds was able to cling on, and all through the night he was buffeted by the waves at the mercy of the stormy sea. A little before daylight the boat was washed ashore and Edmunds, chilled nearly to death after forty-eight hours in the icy waters, was just able to make his way to a house a short distance above Astoria.
The next year Pickernell, undaunted by past hazards, set forth to the gold fields of California, where, no doubt, he shared in new adventures unknown to us. He died near Ilwaco, Washington, November 12, 1877. A Record of the Lives of the Pioneers Who Founded the Oregon Government, by Caroline C. Dobbs
John Pickernell drowned in the Meriweather shipwreck.
Emmaline Redhead Pickernell (1820 - 1872)
Harriet Pickernell Sweeney (1841 - 1899)*
Note: This is the original burial site for him. He was removed and reinterred in the Ilwaco Cemetery.
Created by: Steve & Nancy Stout
Record added: Nov 29, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 101489672