HISTORY OF PITTSBURG COUNTY
County of the OkGenWeb/USGenWeb Project
Pittsburg County, Oklahoma lies in an area that formed a boundary of sorts for those travelers moving westward toward the Great Plains. The dense vegetation was nearly impassable and reached from the Ozark Mountains in Missouri southward to the Gulf of Mexico.
In the period that predates written history, the area was occasionally inhabited by Native American tribes dating to 8000 BC that were generally nomadic in nature and described as hunter-gatherers.
Tribes that extend into modern times also ventured into the area, including the Wichitas, the Osage, and the Caddo nations. Another society that located in Eastern Oklahoma from about 1000 AD to 1450 AD has come to be called the Spiro Moundbuilders, so-called for their relatively elaborate constructions used for burials.
Modern man ventured into the area as part of the trapping industry conducted by the French, who claimed ownership. The Treaty of Fountainbleau in 1763 gave control of much of the territory west of the Mississippi to the Spanish. In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase deeded the land that encompassed present-day Oklahoma to the US.
Although a treaty in 1818 gave the land between the South Canadian River and the Red River to the Quapah Nation, the creation of Arkansas Territory on March 2, 1819 also included the land of present-day Oklahoma. Six years later the US government signed another treaty for the same land, this time with the Choctaws. The area that includes present-day Pittsburg County was part of the Choctaw Nation until Oklahoma statehood in 1907.
The Choctaw Nation extended from the present Arkansas border westward to near Ada, and extended south from the Canadian River to the Red River. The geographic area included three district designations, which were further broken down into county-level areas. The Moshulatubee District contained Gaines County, San Bois County, Skullyville County, Sugar Loaf County, and Tobucksy County. Apuckshunnubbee District contained Boktucklo, Cedar, Eagle, Nashoba, Red River, Towson, and Wade counties. Pushmataha District contained Atoka County, Blue County, Jack's Fork County, and Kiamichi County.
Pittsburg County, Oklahoma was created from portions of Atoka, Gaines, Jack's Fork and Tobucksy counties of the Choctaw Nation, and was named for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Alderson is a community on Highway 270, about six miles E of McAlester. It was named for W. C. Alderson, who was an employee of the Choctaw, Oklahoma, and Gulf Railroad. Until 1981, Alderson maintained its own school district.
Arpelar is located 12 miles W of McAlester and had a post office from Feb. 25, 1903 until June 30, 1934. It was named for Aaron Arpelar, a Chickasaw who served as County Judge of Tobucksy County, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory.
Ashland was named by the Post Office Department at the time the new Office was located there on October 1, 1902. The name of Ashland was given to the Post Office despite the local resident's request for the name "Pearl City." Ashland is located 11 miles NW of Kiowa, in SW Pittsburg County.
Bache is located 7 miles E of McAlester, and had its post office established on February 26, 1903. It was named for Franklin Bache, a local mining operator. The community was one of the stops along the interurban streetcar route between McAlester and Hartshorne.
Blanco has one of the more curious of naming stories...located in Southern Pittsburg County, 10 miles NE of Kiowa, the community was named for Ramon Blanco y Erenas, the Governor General of Cuba from 1897 to 1898. Its post office was established August 31, 1901 and supposedly, George Beams, the first postmaster there, got the name from a history book.
Blocker is located 15 miles NE of McAlester, and had its post office established April 26, 1905. In its heyday, Blocker had a hotel, a Methodist Church, three stores and a cotton gin. It was named for Eads Blocker, a coal mining operator in the area.
Bugtussle , a community about six miles NE of McAlester, was renamed Flowery Mound bya school teacher in 1910, but the name Bugtussle persists even today. Its most famous resident was also Oklahoma's highest ranking political figure -- Carl Albert -- who served as Speaker of the US House of Representatives, and was literally "a heartbeat away from the Presidency" following the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Haileyville sprang from the coal mining fields east of McAlester at the turn of the century, and was named for Dr. Daniel Morris Hailey, who obtained mineral leases from the Choctaw, Oklahoma, and Gulf Railroad. The post office was established April 20, 1901.
Hartshorne is located E of McAlester on Highway 270 and was incorporated March 1, 1900. It was named for Dr. Charles Hartshorne, a railroad official. The post office was opened March 5, 1890 with Henry Martyn as Postmaster.
Indianola is another town that "moved" due to the introduction of the railroad. The Fort Smith and Western Railroad ran its line one mile north of Indianola in 1901, and caused a shift in the settlement of the community. The post office was established in 1891, and the name is said to have been taken from either Indianola, MS or from a stove nameplate in the dry goods store of Cornelison and Bynum , two early-day entrepreneurs.
McAlester is the county seat and economic hub of the area, located at the crossings of State Highways 69 and 270. Before the highways, McAlester could be found at the crossing point of the Texas Road and the California Trail. Both were wagon roads used primarily by migrating families; the Texas Road ended in Dallas, Texas while the California Trail crossed the Southwest by way of Fort Smith, Arkansas and Albequerque, New Mexico.
J.J. McAlester was the namesake of the town. He was a merchandising frontiersman from Sebastian County, Arkansas, who set up a general store in an area now called North McAlester, or "Old Town." His marriage in 1872 to a member of the Chickasaw Nation allowed him to take up legal residence in the Choctaw Nation.
His already profitable business was further enhanced by the decision of the Katy Railroad (Missouri, Kansas, & Texas -- MKT) to develop a line from Kansas to Texas through Indian Territory. The line ran right by McAlester's store. In 1889, the Choctaw Coal and Railway Company completed a line that connected the Frisco with the MKT by way of an East-West track. A disagreement with McAlester over right-of-way permits caused the railroad to look elsewhere for land. They found it a mile and a half to the south of McAlester's store and the young community. Fritz Sittel, the son of a German immigrant who had come to the area with the Katy construction, gave the new line right-of-way through land he owned in exchange for business contracts with the railroad. The community that quickly grew up alongside the new line became known as South McAlester, and a post office was establish.
In the last paragraph it mentions that Fritz Sittel gave the new line right-of-way through land he owned in exchange for busines contracts with the railroad. Actually, it was his father, Edward Sittel who owned and ceeded the land.
The Sittel's were our immigrant's brother-in-law; as a result, our genealogical research has included the Sittel's. My editorial note and sources follows: See Pioneers Of Pittsburg County
R. Susan Tronnier email@example.com