FALLBROOK – Saturday, June 17, was a busy day at the Fallbrook Historical Society’s museum and Pittenger House (at 1760 Hill Avenue) when a convoy of “Clampers” assembled to dedicate a new historical monument in memory of Lt. William Pittenger.
Attendees learned that Clampers is the nickname for the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus and the colorfully dressed gentlemen attending the event were members of the John P. Squibob Chapter which covers San Diego and Imperial counties. It was also noted that Clampers wear red to indicate that their goal is to “locate and preserve history in San Diego County.”
Chris Benintende, Grand Noble Historian for the “John P. Squibab Chapter,” unveiled the monument, noting that it was so solidly built it could “withstand earthquakes and nuclear bombs!” then proceeded to relate the story of Fallbrook’s famous Lt. William Pittenger – a pillar of the community from 1890 (when his family settled here on 20 acres of land) until his death in 1904. He is buried in the Fallbrook Pioneer Odd Fellows Cemetery
Besides being the Reverend of the Fallbrook Methodist and Episcopal church from 1893-to 1896, and again from 1898 to 1899, Pittenger was one of the organizers of the Fallbrook High School District and local school board. He also used his writing skills to petition state legislators to create the Fallbrook Irrigation District.
Benintende’s book on Lt. William Pittenger tells the story of this remarkable “man of faith” and follows the story of Andrew’s Raiders and the Great Locomotive Chase that was featured in the silent movie “The Great Train Chase.” Benintende – who did most of the research on the book – said the movie was a comedy version of Pittenger’s remarkable role in the War of Southern Independence, but it was pretty true. He noted that when the South made the decision to secede, this war “set the stage that began the path for William to follow his ultimate destiny.” He added that Pittenger’s survival skills were very good, and in 1863 he was discharged with a Medal of Honor.
In his “Author’s Musings” Benintende adds that “William Pittenger was a man of conviction, self-driven with a sense of duty who overcame many obstacles in his lifetime. His story is fascinating yet he remains humble throughout all my readings and research.”
The Fallbrook Historical Society encourages residents to visit their Museum (corner of Rocky Crest and Hill Avenue) and tour the Pittenger House – which is open every Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. to learn more about local fascinating history and its pioneers. For more information, http://www.fallbrookhistoricalsociety.org.
Submitted by the Fallbrook Historical Society.