Chalcraft-Pickering Family Papers, 1821-1954

Overview of the Collection

Chalcraft, Edwin L., 1855-1943
Chalcraft-Pickering Family Papers
1821-1954 (inclusive)
2 Linear feet of shelf space, (3 Boxes)
Collection Number
Cage 560 (collection)
The Chalcraft-Pickering Family Papers are comprised chiefly of the diaries of Edwin Chalcraft, long-time Indian Service employee, and documents, chiefly letters, associated with his father-in-law William Pickering, Territorial Governor of Washington in the 1860s.
Washington State University Libraries' Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC)
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Terrell Library Suite 12
Pullman, WA
Telephone: 509-335-6691
Access Restrictions

This collection is open and available for research use.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Edwin L. Chalcraft was born on November 13, 1855, on his father's farm near Albion, Illinois, where he lived until his marriage to Alice Pickering on October 13, 1880. The following summer, Edwin, a teacher in the Albion Public School and a county surveyor, and Alice also a school teacher, accepted the invitation of her brother William to visit him in "Squak Valley" (now Issaquah), thirteen miles east of Seattle.

Originally they had planned to stay only for a short visit; but in the spring of 1883 Edwin met Mr. Charles M. Anderson, a. recent graduate of the engineering department of the Territorial University. Anderson and Chalcraft subsequently formed a partnership and opened an office in civil engineering. Meanwhile in Squak Valley the residents learned that Alice had taught school and persuaded her to instruct the very first "Squak Valley" school.

In the summer of 1886, however, the city of Tacoma succeeded in securing the rail terminal for the Northern Pacific Railroad. The ensuing depression in Seattle caused the Anderson-Chalcraft firm to suffer along with other businesses. Then Chalcraft learned of an opportunity to enter the Government Service as Superintendent of the Chehalis Indian Reservation and Boarding School, seventy-five miles southwest of Seattle. Chalcraft had agreed to stay at Chehalis for one year, but worked there until 1889; when he became superintendent of the Puyallup Agency near Tacoma. At Puyallup Chalcraft battled to protect the Indians from the greedy designs of white land grabbers and from the less savory temptations of white civilization.

In 1894 the Agency sent Chalcraft and Alice to superintend the Indian Training school at Chemawa, near Salem, Oregon. Edwin and Alice found Chemawa to be a most congenial place to live and work; but when the Democrats swept into office Chalcraft found through personal experience that political sympathies often outweighed considerations of merit in placing and replacing people in federal jobs. In 1895 the Indian Agency dismissed Chalcraft, without apparent reason other than his Republican political affiliation. Thus Edwin and Alice returned to Seattle, where Edwin resumed his surveying activities. During the years between 1895 and 1900 Edwin surveyed, managed a grocery store and a shingle mill at Mt. Vernon. But in 1900 Republicans under the leadership of William B. McKinley- returned to office and among the people they brought with them were the Chalcrafts. The Agency reinstated Chalcraft then sent him to the Shoshone Reservation in Wyoming. Within a few months the Commissioner appointed Chalcraft to be Supervisor of Indian Schools. In this capacity Edwin was responsible for inspecting the operations of the Indian Schools in their entirety and for evaluating and if necessary correcting any charges of maladministration or wrongdoing.

In 1904, after having traveled throughout the country in discharging his responsibilities, Chalcraft requested and received reassignment to the Salem Indian Training School at Chemawa, Oregon, the place he and Alice liked so well and from which he had been so rudely removed in 1895. Edwin and Alice and their two children lived and worked happily at Chemawa until 1911, when an assistant managed to persuade the Indian Commissioner to remove Chalcraft on the basis of several charges that Edwin was able to prove groundless. Though Chalcraft was able to exonerate himself of these charges, the Agency Commissioner nevertheless transferred him to the James Male Academy in Oklahoma. Chalcraft spent two rather hot and unpleasant years at James Male Academy, but nevertheless admired the abilities of the Indian students there.

In 1914, however, Chalcraft succeeded in getting a transfer to the Siletz Agency in western Oregon. At Siletz Chalcraft pursued the normal duties of Superintendent, teaching, organizing fairs and bands, basketball, baseball and football teams, combatting the evil influence of liquor and generally endeavoring to impart to the Indian students the practical abilities with which to integrate themselves with white society. In 1925, as the time for his retirement approached, Chalcraft recommended to the Indian Commissioner that the Siletz Agency be abolished and its remaining functions integrated with the Chemawa, Agency. In Chalcraft's view, the Agency at Siletz had accomplished its purpose of giving the Indians the practical skills to cope with the white world. The Indian Commissioner complied with Chalcraft's request, and on his birthday, November 13, 1925, Chalcraft and his wife Alice, who had come to Chehalis to stay for a year, retired after forty-one years of service. He and his wife returned to live at their home at 923 Cherry Street in Seattle. Their son, a newspaperman, and their daughter also lived in Seattle.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

William Pickering, Governor of Washington Territory from 1862 to 1866, was the grandfather of Alice Chalcraft. He was born March 15, 1797, in a small village in Yorkshire, in the North of England. He immigrated to North America in the 1820s, finally acquiring property and involving himself in various businesses in the area of Albion, Illinois, by the late 1820s. In the 1840s he was elected to the Illinois State Legislature, and in the later 1850s he attached himself to the political cause of Abraham Lincoln, who eventually was to appoint Pickering as Governor of Washington Territory. Known as the "wartime governor" of Washington, Pickering has reputation of an effective administrator and politician, although the affairs of the Territory were of a quite modest scale at the time. Pickering lived with his son Richard at Albion in later years. He died at Albion in 1873.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Chalcraft-Pickering Family Papers are comprised chiefly of the diaries of Edwin Chalcraft, long-time Indian Service employee, and documents, chiefly letters, associated with his father-in-law William Pickering, Territorial Governor of Washington in the 1860s. The Chalcraft diaries record many Indian Service matters, as well as personal observations and concerns. The majority of the William Pickering documents are from the 1820s and 1830s, chiefly correspondence to his family in England short after his emigration to North America. Some miscellaneous business papers of Richard Pickering are also included.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Preferred Citation

[Item description]

Chalcraft-Pickering Family Papers, 1821-1954 (Cage 560)

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


The materials are seperated into Chalcraft Family and Pickering Family series. Within those series, correspondence and diaries are arranged chronologically, other materials are arranged by topic.

Acquisition Information

The Chalcraft-Pickering Family Papers, including the photographs, were acquired by the Washington State University Libraries in 1986 (MS86-54) from Florian Shasky, a dealer in out-of-print books and manuscript materials.

Separated Materials

Photographs recieved as part of this collection were seperated out to make the Chalcraft-Pickering Photographs, 1862-1941 (PC 82)

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series 1: Chalcraft Family PapersReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
Address Book and Postcards
5 items.
1 2
Alaska Transportation and Fishing Company Stock
7 items.
1 3
Maps and drawings (Chehalis & Puyallup Reservations; area in Seattle)
5 items.
1 4
Chalcraft Correspondence
8 items.
1 5
E.P Chalcraft (Son of Edwin L.)'s Press Cards (and other identity cards). Includes small dictionary
32 items.
1947-1959, undated
1 6
Family Tree and History of the Richard Chalcraft and Richard Pickering Families
1 7
"Memory's Storehouse", by Edwin L. Chalcraft. A personal memoir of Edwin and Alice Chalcraft and their families' experiences
1 8
Oriole Gold Mining Company Stock
26 items.
1 9
Regulations of the Indian Department, with annotations by Chalcraft. Note: Trasferred to book collections, June, 2004.
Diaries of Edwin Chalcraft
Box Folder
2 10
4 volumes.
2 11
3 volumes.
2 12
3 volumes.
2 13
3 volumes.
2 14
3 volumes.
2 15
3 volumes.
2 16
3 volumes.

Series 2: Pickering Family PapersReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
3 17
William Pickering diary
1 volume.
3 18
Richard Pickering business papers
43 items.
Box Folder
3 19
circa 1820-1829
5 items.
3 20
7 items.
3 21
21 items.
3 22
6 items.
3 23
10 items.
3 24
20 items.
3 25
13 items.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Chehalis Indians -- Education -- History -- Sources
  • Indians of North America -- Education -- History -- Sources

Personal Names

  • Chalcraft, Alice, 1858-1938 -- Archives
  • Chalcraft, Edwin L., 1855-1943 -- Archives
  • Pickering, William T., 1798-1873 -- Archives

Family Names

  • Chalcraft family
  • Pickering family

Geographical Names

  • Washington (State) -- History

Other Creators

  • Personal Names
    • Chalcraft, Alice, 1858-1938 (creator)
    • Pickering, William T., 1798-1873 (creator)