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William L. Pittman. Of the various county superintendents of schools in Oklahoma there is none who has brought to the discharge of his official duties broader, more systematic and more practical policies than Mr. Pittman, who is county superintendent of the public schools of Woodward County and whose distinctive executive ability has been coupled with his pedagogic efficiency to bring the schools of the county up to their present high standard. He is an enthusiast in his work, places true valuation upon systematic education and his appreciation has, perhaps, been quickened and vitalized through his having depended upon his own resources and exertions in acquiring the liberal education which stands to his credit. Superintendent Pittman came to Woodward County in 1901 and has resided within its borders during the intervening period. Becoming a land owner at the time of his arrival in the county, he has aided in the industrial development and progress of this section of the state, in addition to having been specially prominent and influential in the advancing of educational interests and the best civic ideals and conditions.
The only son in a family of seven children, Mr. Pittman was born on a farm in Clark County, Missouri, and the date of his nativity was December 8, 1874. That the conditions that surrounded him when he was thus ushered into the world were of somewhat primitive order may be inferred when it is stated that the home in which he was born was a log house of the type more commonly found in an early pioneer period. He is a son of Frederick and Sarah Jane (Stone) Pittman, and of their seven children the subject of this review was the fourth in order of birth.
Frederick Pittman was born in the Principality of Waldeck, Germany, on the 15th of October, 1838, and thus was a lad of about fourteen years when, in 1852, he accompanied his parents on their immigration to the United States, the family home being established in Adams County, Illinois, where his father obtained land and engaged in farming, both of his parents passing the remainder of their lives in that state. In Illinois Frederick Pittman was reared to adult years, and there he supplemented the rudimentary education received in his native land, by attending the district schools for some time, this discipline enabling him to acquire more effective knowledge of the English language. In 1865 he removed from Illinois to Clark County, Missouri, where he continued his successful activities as a farmer and stock raiser until about forty years later he came to Oklahoma, in 1905, the remainder of his life having been passed in Woodward County, where he died on the 19th of February, 1908. He was an active member of the Methodist Protestant Church for thirty years prior to his death-.
On the 15th of August, 1866, was solemnized the marriage of Frederick Pittman to Miss Sarah Jane Stone, who was born near Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois, where her parents, William and Elizabeth (Gilham) Stone, established their residence in the pioneer days, upon their removal from their native state, Kentucky. Mrs. Pittman survived her husband and still maintains her home in Woodward County, all of their children having been born on the old homestead farm in Clark County, Missouri. Mrs. Pittman, like her honored husband, has long been a devoted adherent of the Methodist Protestant Church.
Reared to the sturdy discipline of the home farm, William L. Pittman early became inured to strenuous physical labor and effectually learned the lessons of practical industry. In the meanwhile his ambition was spurred by the somewhat limited educational advantages which he received in the rural schools of his native county, and the training thus gained he supplemented by special courses in high schools at various places, after he had become dependent upon his own resources. Through well ordered private study he rounded out a really liberal education, for the "leading out," which the very term education implies, may thus be effected in the intellectual field if the aspirant has the requisite determination and ambition. Through existent and self-induced advantages that thus came to him, Mr. Pittman, at the age of twenty years, proved himself eligible for pedagogic honors and was granted a teacher’s certificate–in the year 1894. For the ensuing five years he was a successful and popular teacher in Clark County, Missouri, and as that represents his “ native heath,” he thus set at naught the application of the scriptural aphorism that “a prophet is not without honor save in his own country.” In 1900 Mr. Pittman held for a few months, under the civil service system, a position in connection with the city postal service in Chicago, but impaired health soon compelled him to resign his position,–a contingency that he has had no cause to regret, since he was incidentally led to establish a home soon afterward in Oklahoma, which territory was then looking forward with high hopes to being admitted to statehood.
In December, 1901, Mr. Pittman came to Oklahoma Territory and purchased a tract of land in Detroit Township, Woodward County, and in connection with the improving and developing of this homestead he found ready demand for his services as a teacher in the schools of the county, so that he pendulated between agricultural and pedagogic activities until 1909, when he left the farm and assumed the position of superintendent of the village schools of Mooreland, this county, an office of which he continued the incumbent two years.
In 1910 Mr. Pittman was elected county superintendent of schools for Woodward County, and the one most effective evidence of the efficiency of his administration and the high popular estimate placed upon the same is that afforded in his continuous retention of this important office, to which he was re-elected in 1912, and again in 1914. In every sense Mr. Pittman is to be considered one of the progressive educators in the State of Oklahoma, and he bends his energies specially to thoroughness of work in all departments of the schools under his supervision, the while he insistently urges the prompt and regular attendance of pupils. His success in his present office has been unqualified and noteworthy, and the citizens of Woodward County owe to him a debt of perpetual gratitude and honor for the admirable work he has accomplished for the schools. He has made the school system of Woodward County a veritable model and further than this he has made a valuable contribution to educational annals in the state by preparing a most interesting and valuable history of the schools of the county. As author of this work he effected its publication in attractive form. Superintendent Pittman is alert and vigorous in adopting methods and systems of educational work that meet the approval of his judgment, and his ambition and loyalty are such that he does not fear to stray outside the beaten path when he considers such deflection beneficial for the cause. Thus it may be noted that among his innovations is the custom of personally conducting each year the teachers’ institute for Woodward County, and other county superintendents have not only warmly commended the plan, justified by definite results achieved, but also have in a number of instances adopted the same. He was the first also to introduce spelling and cyphering contests in the schools of his county, and students from this county have, within his regime as superintendent, won one first and one second prize in the state spelling contests now held annually in Oklahoma in connection with the general work of the public schools.
Mr. Pittman takes a lively interest in all that concerns the civic and material welfare and advancement of his home county and state and is a leader in popular sentiment and action in Woodward County, He is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and he and his wife hold membership in the Baptist Church.
On the 4th of March, 1900, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Pittman to Miss Florence L. Black, who was born in Clark County, Missouri, on the 26th day of October, 1872, a daughter of William and Jennie (Butts) Black. Mr. and Mrs. Pittman became the parents of three children, whose names and respective dates of birth are here noted: Roland L., October 15, 1904 (died March 11, 1905) : William H. E., October 15, 1908; and Frederick E., April 24, 1912.