HAWLEY – Captain Joseph J. Hittinger, Hawley, Pa. native, was a career Army man in the days the Calvary really rode on horses. Among his duties was participation in tracking down the famous warrior Apache leader, Geronimo.

HAWLEY – Captain Joseph J. Hittinger, Hawley, Pa. native, was a career Army man in the days the Calvary really rode on horses. Among his duties was participation in tracking down the famous warrior Apache leader, Geronimo.
He was born April 16, 1850 [another reference gave 1859] in Hawley to George and Bertha (Zalin) Hittinger. Joseph was the oldest of nine children; the others in order were Henry (1863), George (1866), Augusta (1868), Frederick J. (1870), Lenhard (1872), Jennie (1874), Peter (1877) and William (1879).

Father was commissioner

His father was elected Wayne County Commissioner in 1870. George Hittinger and his family lived on Hudson Street in Hawley; the home still stands, a few doors west of the “S” curve. He was a lumber and insurance merchant.  They later moved to Long Ridge Road and operated a farm.
The elder George Hittinger was born in Germany in 1835; he died in 1914 and is laid to rest at Hawley. Joseph’s mother lived from 1841 to 1899.
Joseph’s brother George enlisted in the Navy at age 15 in June 1880, at New York City. He followed a Navy career, and died in an accidental explosion of shells at Mare Island Shipyard, California, June 13, 1892. He had just been appointed as chief gunner three days before. Shells were being loaded at the time into his ship, the U.S. Steamer Boston. Fifteen deaths were reported and many others injured.

“Little Joe”

His son Joseph was said in later years to have a striking resemblance of his late father.
Joseph attended Normal School at Prompton in the early 1870’s. “…Almost everyone called him ‘Little Joe,’ for he was never very tall, neither as he very large around,” The Hawley Times recounted in 1919.
He took part as a young man in Hawley, with other boys at the Hawley Lyceum. This was a place where young people were encouraged in reading books, and learning good morals; they met at the Teeters’ building, upstairs. “Little Joe” also worked for a time in a local print shop.
Never forgetting his hometown, the Wayne County papers would mention occasions when he was back in Hawley visiting friends.  The Hawley Times in April 1919 (published at that time as part of The Citizen) reported on his recent reunion. Captain Hittinger gave a rousing, patriotic speech at the Hawley Methodist Episcopal Church.
In about 1889, he was married to the former Martha Zizgler. They had at least two daughters, Jennie Bertha and Mildred M.
They were living in Buffalo, NY at the time of the 1900 census.
While living in Vancouver, Washington, the 1910 census listed Sgt. Hittinger as age 50; Martha was 38; Jennie was 18 and Mildred was 15.
Five years later, they had a wedding, Jennie, who was working as an actress, was wed to Charles Roy Payton Fox. Her husband, who was from Wisconsin and three years older, was an actor. They were wed August 30, 1915 in Washington State.
No further references have been found about Mildred.
We do learn that their father loved to fish for trout. He enjoyed fishing while he lived in Oregon in later years, and maybe before. They lived in Portand, and later, Eugene, OR.
Knights of Columbus, in Washington, D.C., held a Halloween ball in 1920. Captain Hittinger was on hand, to present an American flag to the Washington General Assembly. There was no word in The Evening Star newspaper, if he wore any costume!

Army career

 “Little Joe” enlisted in the Army in 1879 and stayed in the service for 30 years.
A chevron on the left arm of his service uniform denoted his involvement in the “Indian Wars.” He was on the expedition trailing the great warrior, Geromino.
This famous Native American was a prominent leader and medicine man in the Apache tribe. He was involved in many raids and resistance to US and Mexican military campaigns in the northern Mexico and the southwestern United States territories of New Mexico and Arizona.
Geromino “surrendered” three times and taken to Apache reservations, but fled three times. In 1886 he surrendered the last time to the U.S. Army and was treated as a prisoner of war. The United States capitalized on his fame by displaying him at various events, including fairs and expositions. Geromino died in 1909 at the age of 79.

World fairs

Hittinger became a special government agent. In the summer of 1900 he was involved with the Pan-American Exposition, a World Fair held in Buffalo, NY. It was at this exposition that President William McKinley as assassinated, on September 6.
In 1902 while stationed in Charleston, SC, the famed writer Mark Twain visited him in Hittinger’s office.  With Twain was the Speaker of the House Thomas B. Reed. They had arrived on Twain’s yacht, and Twain came in wearing his trademark white flannels.
The Army & Navy Journal, in March 1904, reported that enlisted men assigned to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri, were to report on March 5th to Post Quartermaster Sgt. Joseph J. Hittinger for duty. This was in connection with the War Department exhibit at the exposition, informally called the St. Louis World’s Fair.
He was on duty with General J.W. McAndrew (then a captain) at Fort William H. Seward, Alaska, landing April 16, 1906- his birthday and the day of the great San Francisco earthquake.
In 1909 he was involved wit the Alaskan-Yukon-Pacific Exposition held in Seattle, Washington.
Although he had retired from active service in 1909 and was living in Eugene, Oregon, when the World War broke out, Hittinger volunteered. Too old for trench fighting, he was placed in the Quartermaster’s Department and commissioned as a captain. He served on the Committee for Public Information.
He served on the awards committee at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, a world’s fair held in San Francisco.
In 1916, Captain Hittinger slept for 123 days aboard a railroad sleeping car, as it traveled from point to point.
He applied for a passport in November 1918 to travel to Havana, on Army business. He had been assigned the task of creating a Committee eon Public Information.

Smithsonian Institution

At the time he visited Wayne County in 1919, he was on leave from his regular assignment in Washington, D.C., at the Smithsonian Institution and National Museum.
His wife Martha had died in Portland, October 10, 1917.
Captain Hittinger (retired) died October 29, 1924 at the cadet hospital at West Point, after an operation. For many years he served at the military academy a quartermaster sergeant. His home at the time of his death was in Eugene, Oregon.
He was laid to rest at the U.S. Military Academy Post Cemetery, West Point, NY.