The year 2020 will forever be remembered for the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic that swept the United States and the world. The Oklahoma Panhandle suffered with the disease and economic distress, and the celebration called “Pioneer Days” had been quietly postponed.
This year, however, is the 130th anniversary of the May 2, 1890 Organic Act that transformed No Man’s Land into part of the Territory of Oklahoma. Previous to 1890, the area had 40 years of legal uncertainty belonging to no state. The area which later became the counties of Cimarron, Texas and Beaver was populated with hardy farmers and ranchers. According to a supplement earlier this spring in the Guymon Daily Herald, the first Pioneer Day to observe May 2, 1890 and honor those early settlers was held on May 2, 1933.
Thirty-one years later in 1964, activities such as selecting a queen were being held as part of the celebration. Always aware of all aspects of history in the Panhandle, the No Man’s Land Museum in Goodwell has two items belonging to Jane Hitch who was crowned the 1964 Pioneer Parade Queen.
In an article published in the Guymon Daily Herald on Sunday, May 3, 1964, Jane is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. C. Hitch, Jr., and granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. C. Hitch, Sr. She was an 18-year-old senior in Guymon High School who was also the 1963 Miss Guymon. She lived on a ranch southeast of Guymon. She was crowned Pioneer Parade Queen in a ceremony preceding the nightly rodeo in the new Pioneer Stadium. Jane and the first four runners-up rode on a float in the Saturday Pioneer Day Parade.
After graduating from high school, Jane went to Tulsa in June 1964 to participate in the Miss Oklahoma contest. In a June 23, 1964 article in the Guymon Daily Herald, Jane competed with 40 other contestants from all over the State of Oklahoma. At the end of the three day event on Saturday night, she was crowned Miss Oklahoma.
No other young woman had ever been selected Miss Oklahoma from the Panhandle, so the excitement meant that a reception must be set for the State Winner. The June article mentioned that Jane would arrive in town riding in her new automobile presented to her as Miss Oklahoma.
In an article on June 25, Jane was escorted down Main Street of Guymon by the Highway Patrol. They led a parade of horses from the Texas County Sheriff’s Posse and the High School band and the Rainbow girls.
Jane’s first official duty in office as Miss Oklahoma was dedicating the new city pool. She snipped the ribbons suspended across the new municipal pool and a group of swimmers immediately dived in and swam to the middle of the pool. A reception was held for Jane Hitch, Miss Oklahoma, in the Hotel Dale Venetian Room by the Guymon Rotary Club where Mayor Paul Fowler presented her with the “key to the city”.
In the future, there will surely be another Miss Oklahoma from the Panhandle who has ridden in the Pioneer Days Parade. Until that time, the No Man’s Land Museum welcomes visitors to see a plat book with Jane Hitch’s photo on the cover and a trophy belonging to Miss Hitch. The Museum is open on Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m., and it is closed Sunday and Monday as well as state holidays. Please wear a mask. Follow the Museum on Facebook @NoMansLandMuseum. The Museum looks forward to the Guymon Pioneer Days Rodeo which will be held this August 21, 22 and 23 in the Henry C. Hitch Pioneer Arena.