Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

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Pitchlynn-Sittel
Submitted by: Nowassa Schofield

Sorry it’s taken so long to get all the records on my grandparents and on Mother and Dad. Mothers father was Fritz Sittel a white man and her mother was Melvina Pitchlynn Sittel. There were eight living children from this marriage. I found grandmothers roll no and all the children’s. Uncle Edwards, Uncle Williams, My mothers, Aunt Lottie’s, Aunt Josie’s, Uncle Fritz Jr, Uncle Farish’s and Uncle Melvin’s. My Great grandfather William B. Pitchlynn according to a court case in the Chickasaw records SKN #3 William B. Pitchlynn married Elsie the daughter of She-Mo-Ti-Ci-Cha and they had three children. William B. Pitchlynn was politically active in the tribe and a lot of history is in his family. This William B. Pitchlynn and Elsie were the parents of my grandmother Melvina Pitchlynn Sittel.

There is a file I believe at the University Western History Library on Sitter’s. In some way Sittel and William B Pitchlynn were involved in founding the town of McAlester and one of their oldest residents, Peter P. Pitchlynn was my great grandfathers uncle and served as Chief of the Choctaw from 1864 to 1866. He moved to Eagletown in 1834 and opened a large plantation on the east bank of the Mountain Fork River near his brother-in-law. Calvin Howell. He was active in Choctaw government and had a part in creating all the Choctaw constitutions. He was the major author of the Choctaw National Educational Act of 1842, which established a national school system. Peter P. Pitchlynn represented the Choctaws in Washington for almost a quarter of a century. He died there and is buried in the Congressional Cemetery. I’m sorry I can’t remember or find more information. Mother didn’t always write things down, and she and dad have been dead a long time and I can’t remember as good as I used to. For the life of me I can’t find my brothers or any roll no. Any place..

I remember mother saying she had to take time to get my brother Farish registered before they stop enrolling the children. My parents had seven children. Six boys and me. James my older brother I cant remember the year he was born it seems he was 2 years older than I, is deceased. My birthday is March 13 1919. Farish born 1921 now deceased. Estul born 1924 now deceased. Thomas born 1928 lives in Van Buren Ark. Omer born 1932 now deceased. Leonard born 1934 lived in Los Angeles. I worked for Bank of America for 40 years. Retired in 1985. My husband Jim and I belong to the First Methodist Church in El Centro. I sang in the choir nearly 40 years. I’m active in club work. I have been in Eastern Star nearly 50 years. Was Worthy Matron in 1970. In 1989 was the Deputy Grand Matron of California. In 1992 was the Grand Page to the Worthy Grand Matron of California Order of the Eastern Star. I am a past Worthy High Priestess of the Order of the white Shrine of Jerusalem. I’m still active in both clubs, and hold the office of Chaplain in both Star and Shrine. So I would say I have had a good and full life. Since I was mother’s only girl, mother taught me to keep house, cook, sew and as she loved gardening I learned to enjoy gardening as she did. Mother did the sewing in our family and as I got older, I made my own cloths with her help. Mother did beautiful needlework and she taught me how. We canned together made pies, cakes, cookies, etc.

You mentioned time back then wand now. When I started to work at the bank back then, my salary was 75.00 a month. While still at home growing up sometimes mother would have me buy a loaf of bread as a treat she would say. Then a loaf of bread was 10 cents. Mother always made our bread so I guess she thought we would enjoy a change. As another treat she had me buy a gallon of buttermilk on Sundays fur us to drink. A gallon then was 15 cents. Now when I buy a qt. Its 1.50. I remember dad bought a new car back then and he had a fit because he had to pay 350.00 dollars. My brothers and I went to school in Holtville. This is the first town you come to after crossing the sand dunes from Yuma Arizona. I went to Business College and started to work for the bank. I married Robert E, Hollingsworth a Captain in the Sheriff’s Office. We had two children. Marsha Ann Hollingsworth Clark, born Dec. 29 1946 and Roger Eugene Hollingsworth born Oct. 24, 1948, who also followed in his father’s line of business. Their father passed away in 1966 and in 1969 I married Jim Schofield a businessman in El Centro who owned Schofield Photography Studio.

My daughter has one child. A girl Renee Cherie Clark. She’s 27 years old and is going to college in Champaign University, In Illinois and is working ion her doctor’s degree in music. I know this doesn’t sound like much information, wish I could give more. As I look back I used to say to mother, you should sit down and just write whatever comes to your mind, when you were young mother. I’ll help you, but we never took the time and that is sad. This part is something I think you might enjoy. When my father decided to move to California, his brother uncle Clarence said he would like to come. So he and aunt Florence started packing for the big move. Dad went to town and bought a Model T Ford to drive o the trip. He had never driven a car before, so mother wouldn’t ride with him nor let my brother or me. We three rode: in the covered wagon uncle Clarence drove. We had a horse and a couple of cows tied to the back of the wagon. Mother said we must have made 9 or 10 miles a day. They would stop off along the way before dark, and mother and aunt Florence would fix dinner then we settled down for the night. Finally we came to Yuma and crossed the river into California. For centuries there had been no sign of life or trail across the huge sand hills of the Imperial Valley desert, except occasionally an animal tract, sometimes a footprint or the bone of an escapee from the Yuma Prison. All signs covered by sand at the first breeze of the desert wind. Theses sand hills were skirted by travelers all fearing the thirst of the desert land, dreading the burden of crossing the drifting sand. This desert route was for many years known as the Road of the Devil.

For years these sand hills swayed the engineers deciding a route to be used to bring water to the Valley. Then in 1912 Mr. Boyd a supervisor from Holtville convinced the other supervisors that a brush road across the dunes would be feasible and the first attempt at conquering the isolated desert begun. The brush road was soon covered and lost, a victim of the moving sand. In 1913 the supervisors at Boyd’s request asked the state Highway commission to include a road from El Centro to Yuma in the state’s system. They accepted. This first road was made of 2” x 12’ planks nailed to crossties making a track 25 inches wide for wheel. The single car road was seven miles long with turnouts or double sections placed at 1000-foot intervals to permit cars to pass.

In 1915 the planks had all been laid and the plank road was ready. In 1917 the road was replanked and lasted till 1926. In 1926 it was replaced again by a two lane paved road. Now the freeways follow the same route. Over fifty years the sand dunes of Imperial Valley were discussed with awe and a trip across was a matter of flirting with death. But today? Today the sand dunes anyone in Imperial Valley will stop and talk about beauty of the sand dunes. The road today as of old has frequent turnouts but for motorist to pull off the busy traveled road and marvel at the beauty all around. Sections of the old plank road are still there. Twisted and torn mute evidences of a way of travel past, and gone. This old twisted and torn plank road is the road we came over when my parents came from Oklahoma to California.

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