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The veteran soldier who risked his life in defense of the flag, all things else being equal, takes high rank as a citizen. This may be partly because of the quality of the patriotism of the American public, but there is another reason for the preeminence of the veteran. The man who has the form of character to rise to distinction as a soldier possesses the resourceful perseverance so necessary to success in other fields. Captain R. Pickering, who has been a prominent resident of Genesee from its earliest history, was born in Belmont County, Ohio, May 3, 1842, and comes of a very old and honorable English family. The progenitor of the American branch was Joseph Pickering, who settled in New England in 171 1, and he and his posterity were conspicuous in colonial history and in the struggle for American independence.
John Pickering, grandfather of R. Pickering, was born in Virginia, was a successful farmer in that state and removed to Ohio, where he was a pioneer. There his son, Elisha Pickering, father of R. Pickering, was born, and there he married Miss Mary Berry. He removed later in life to Iowa, and thence to Nebraska, where he died in 1801, aged eighty-six years. His wife died two years previously. This worthy couple were of Quaker stock and were strict adherents to the faith of their forefathers. R. Pickering, their only son, had the advantages of excellent moral training and was educated in the common schools of Ohio. He had not yet celebrated his nineteenth birthday, when, in 1861, President Lincoln issued his first call for seventy-five thousand volunteers, for three months, to suppress in the south an insurrectionary movement whose vitality and longevity had been terribly miscalculated. The next call was for a large number of men to serve for three years or during the war. In response to this call, now that war was upon the country and there was little prospects of soon dispelling it, young Pickering offered himself for his country’s service, and September 23, 1861, enlisted in Company K, Fifteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served in the Army of the Cumberland. His first engagement, at Stone River, turned out somewhat disastrously for him. He was slightly wounded and pretty thoroughly stunned, and when he got his senses back he and others were prisoners in the hands of the “Johnny Rebs” and booked for Castle Thunder and Libby prison. He was paroled at the end of six weeks’ memorable experience. After he returned to the regiment he was in the fighting at Liberty Gap, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge and in the Atlanta campaign, a month of almost continuous battling, which ceased only when Atlanta fell. He was also in the engagement at Franklin and Nashville, Tennessee. In January 1864, he reenlisted and was commissioned captain of Company I, of the same regiment, which he commanded until the close of the war, when he was mustered out of the service, at San Antonio, Tex., November 26, 1865.
After the war was over Captain Pickering returned to Ohio and for two years was engaged in merchandising. He then removed to Iowa and farmed there with success during the ensuing ten years. Selling out his interest in Iowa, Captain Pickering removed to Nebraska, where he received the appointment of clerk of the United States Indian agency and was later given charge of the agency. When the Indians were transferred to the Indian Territory he accompanied them and remained in charge of them until he was given charge of the Pawnee agency. In 1889 he took up his residence in eastern Oregon, and a few months later removed to Genesee, where he engaged in the loan and insurance business, which he has continued successfully to the present time. He represents a list of strong fire and life insurance companies, and as underwriter has always been exceedingly popular and given the most complete satisfaction to his patrons. He has invested quite heavily in real estate and owns and occupies one of the best residences in the city. He has, for a number of years, served the public well and faithfully as justice of the peace and notary public.
Captain Pickering was married February 21, 1867, to Miss Sarah E. Mead, a daughter of Filo Mead, and a native of his own county in Ohio. Captain and Mrs. Pickering have had seven children: Fred L.; Mary M., who is Mrs. George Ingraham; Maud A., who died in her eighteenth year; Anna, who married Charles Power; J. L.; Edna B., and A. F.
Captain Pickering was made a Mason in 1868 has filled every important office and is past master of Unity Lodge, No. 32, of Genesee. He identified himself with the Grand Army of the Republic at the organization, has always worked ardently to advance its interests, is commander of Lyon Post, No. 24, and has been a member of the staff of the commander of the Idaho state department. As a businessman, citizen, public officer and veteran soldier, Captain Pickering takes high rank. He is a man of pleasing personality, genial, sympathetic and helpful, and his friends are many and steadfast.