Percy Dittemore Celebrates 90th Birthday - Ada, Oklahoma



Sunday, January 6, 1991 - Sunday Edition Ada News

Inserts added by Renee Pierce Smelley


Percy Dittemore, a long time resident of Ada, Ok, was born on January 8, 1901, in Oklahoma Indian Territory near the town of Eddy (Kay County).  When the Cherokee Outlet was opened in 1883, Percy’s father, Joseph, rode horseback to stake out the 160 acre claim on which Percy was born.  After filling his claim, Joseph returned to Kansas to bring his wife, Martha, and daughter, Beulah, to the homestead by covered wagon.  In order to “prove” the claim, certain improvements had to be made to the land within 5 years.  In compliance to this requirement, Joseph planted Bois D’Arc (Ossage Orange) trees on the entire border of his claim.  These trees were multipurpose.  In addition to meeting the requirements of the claim, the trees would serve as excellent fencepost and wind breakers.  Many of the trees planted by Joseph Dittemore are still standing.

The family’s first residence was a dug out sod house in which Percy’s sister, Ruby, brother, Richard and Percy were born.  The barn was the second structure to be completed before the construction of a house.  Immediately prior to the completion of a permanent home, a tornado destroyed the structure and work had to begin again.


Joseph and his family farmed the land until 1904 when he decided to homestead near High River in Alberta, Canada.  They returned to Blackwell, Ok, after 6 years because the family found that Canada’s Winters were too severe.


Inserted here are notes taken from an interview that Percy Dittemore gave his daughter in March 1990 about going to homestead in Canada.

I told them a story about “grandpa” (Percy’s dad) making the run down there and going to Canada and getting a homestead up there.  It was so cold up there, going to school out there in the country.  I don’t think there was but just the sixth grade.  There wasn’t no high grades, like the seventh and eighth, so we moved into town.  Dad stayed out on the farm and I guess that is when he hired Frank Windgarden.  He farmed out there and we stayed in town.  We had chickens at the house.  It got so cold up there that Dad couldn’t stand it, so he wanted to go back down to Texas.

(Note: Frank Wingarden married Beulah May Dittemore on April 28, 1909 in Alberta, Canada.  Bulah stayed in Canada with her husband and raised her family there when her parents returned to the United States.)     


Percy completed the eight grade in the Blackwell school system and subsequently started to work at the Oklahoma Bottle and Glass Company there at the age of 15 years.  The plant later became the Hazel Atlas Glass Company.  Percy’s first job was to fetch water from a well which was located about 2 blocks from the plant.  He distributed the water to the workers once an hour during the 12 hour night shift for which he was paid fifty cents a night.  Later he was promoted to “paddle Carrier” whose responsibility was to move hot glass jars to the cooling area.


During the Summer of 1918, Percy accompanied his father and sister, Ruby, on a trip to Colorado to explore a potential homestead.  They traveled by by car to Lamar, CO, where they traded the car for a covered wagon and horses.  The land that was available for homesteading was high in mountain country, heavily wooded, and unsuitable for farming.  Therefore the discouraged family decided to sell their equipment and to return to Blackwell by train.


Inserted here are notes taken from an interview that Percy Dittemore gave his daughter in March 1990 about going to homestead in Colorado.

Dad wanted to take a trip out to Colorado and see if he couldn’t get another homestead out there.  It was way up in the northeast corner and boy it’s all woods up in there.  We finally started up there.  We had an old EMS, it was a pretty good old car.  We got about half way over there and Dad traded the car off to some old guy.  He had a covered wagon and a pair of mules.  We went the rest of the way on that.  It was way out there in the country about ten, twelve miles from town.  We got out there and there wasn’t anything but just a bunch of trees all over the mountains and there wasn’t much of a chance to do much.  We’d had to cut all of the trees.  Dad sold the mules and wagon to someone.  Dad and Ruby come on back on the train and I stayed to pick potatoes and finally got enough money to come home on the train.  (Note: Percy was about 17or 18  years old at the time.)


Percy resumed employment at the glass plant and soon advanced to the position of machine maintenance man earning wages of $11.00 a week.  The Blackwell plant operated on the average of 6 months a year.  When a large enough supply of jars for the year’s canning season were made, the plant shut down usually in early Summer every year.  The workers were forced to seek employment elsewhere, usually harvesting wheat.


Percy and Thelma Bowe were married on July 7, 1923, in Medford, OK.  Four girls were born prior to the family’s move to Oakland, CA, in 1931.  This was during the great depression and several men who worked for Hazel Atlas Glass Company heard that the plant in Oakland was paying a dollar an hour.  They decided to make the move.  Their oldest son was born in Oakland.  The family returned to Blackwell after a year and Percy resumed employment at the glass plant.


In 1932 Percy was transferred to the Ada glass plant. His youngest son was born soon after the move.  When the Blackwell plant re-opened yearly for maximum production, Percy was sent to Blackwell in the capacity of foreman. His promotion to foreman soon became a permanent position and in 1940, he established permanent residency in Ada.


Prior to Percy’s retirement in 1969 after 47 years of continuous employment, Hazel Atlas had sold the plant to Brockway Glass and Brockway sold the plant to Continental Can Company.  The plant is now owned by Owens-Illinois.


Percy and Thelma were married 66 years prior to Thelma’s death in 1989.  Percy has resided in Ada for most of the past 59 years.  He has been a loyal and active member of the First Christian Church serving in many capacities including deacon.


Percy’s 90th birthday is being celebrated on Sunday, January 6, 1991, by coffee reception following Sunday worship at the First Christian Church and by an Open House in his home at 525 West 8th Street from 2 to 4 P.M.  All friends and neighbors are invited to attend.  Both functions will be hosted by his 6 children: Dortha Perkins and Beatrice Brown, both of Ada, Mrs. Ballenger, Ft. Worth, TX, Mrs. Dittemore, Pittsburgh, PA, Mr. Dittemore, Phoenix, AZ and Mr. Dittemore, Houston, TX.



  Percy Lee Dittemore, son of Joseph Ephriam Dittemore and Martha Jane Dawe, was born on January 08, 1901 in Indian Territory near Eddy, Kay County, Oklahoma.  He married Thelma May Bowe on July 7, 1923 in Medford, Grant County, Oklahoma.  He died on November 29, 1996 in Ada, Pontotoc County, Oklahoma at the age of 95 years, 10 months and 21 days.  He  was buried next to his wife in the Rosedale Cemetery in Ada, Oklahoma.

This page is a part of Renee's Family Genealogy

This page was created on April 25, 2001