The Time: April, 1927
The Place: Pigeon Point Lighthouse, California
It was common in the early days of California lighthouse history, that a lighthouse would have several cats around at all times. The obvious duty of these felines was to be good mousers. They were looked upon as work critters, rather than pets, as we know them today. Occasionally, a kitten would come along that would be elevated in stature due to some unusual trait of action, or appearance. Jiggs was that one in a million that caught the eye of his owner and became the darling of the family. As such, he was allowed to eat with the family, and sleep in similar manner.
At the time Jiggs arrived on the scene Tom Henderson, and the Henderson family were keepers of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. George Henderson the son of the Tom, was a youngster 6 years of age. Young George took notice that one kitten in the current litter advanced more quickly than his brothers and sisters. He also noticed that this kitten was the most unusual color, having several black splotches imprinted in a white background. This strange coloring and the early antics of this kitten easily gained the admiration of George. No one is quite sure how the name Jiggs was chosen, but the name seemed a natural for him and was there to stay.
George was constantly tending to Jiggs’ perceived needs. One day George found an abandoned doll cradle, which he repaired, painted and made into a bed for Jiggs. He then placed it next to the potbellied stove in the living room which was the warmest spot in the lighthouse.
As Jiggs matured, and began to prowl, he received some quick attention from the elder Henderson. Tom followed the custom of that day by placing Jiggs head first in a boot and deftly removing two small articles from the vicinity of Jiggs’ behind. I don’t think Jiggs had any idea that he had been emasculated, but they say from that day forward there was a certain amount of distrust in their relationship.
For facts we do know that Jiggs was born on April 22, 1927, at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. The Hendersons moved to Point Sur lighthouse about 1930, with of course, Jiggs their cat. Unfortunately Jiggs survived only until December 20, 1936. At age nine, Jiggs decided he had seen enough of this world and moved on. His physical remains were placed in a crypt at the Point Sur Lighthouse. This was to be only a temporary stop as the Hendersons soon moved to Point Pinos Lighthouse, further up the coast. Jiggs finally found his permanent resting place at Point Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove, California. The headstone and crypt are exactly as the Hendersons left it and can be viewed to this very day. The lighthouse docents are well known for telling tales about Jiggs. Stories that have been passed down through the years and have become somewhat embellished to be sure.
Good Venturing, Murray Smith