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Frank Eaton ("Pistol Pete")

Frank Eaton ("Pistol Pete") by Harold Holden
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Artist: Harold Holden
Sponsor: Sen. Mike Morgan
Dedication: February 6, 2002
Size: 24" x 30"
Type: Oil on Canvas
Location: Senate Lounge

Frank Eaton was born October 26, 1860 in Hartford, CT. When Frank was eight, the Eaton family moved to Kansas to homestead. Shortly after their relocation, Eaton witnessed his father's murder. After being challenged to avenge the death by a family friend, Frank learned how to handle guns and could "shoot a snake's head off with either hand." At 15, before setting off on his mission to avenge his father's death, he decided to visit Fort Gibson, a cavalry fort, to learn more about handling a gun. There he competed with the cavalry's best marksmen, beating them each time. After many competitions, the fort's commanding officer, Colonel Copinger, gave Frank a marksmanship badge and a new name. From that day forward, Frank would be known as "Pistol Pete."

At 17, Frank became a Deputy U.S. Marshal under Judge Isaac C. Parker, "the hanging judge." At 29, he joined the land rush to Oklahoma Territory. He settled near Perkins, Oklahoma, serving as sheriff and later as a blacksmith.

Frank Eaton lived the life of a true cowboy and was said to "pack the fastest guns in the Indian Territory." He usually carried a loaded forty-five and often said "I'd rather have a pocket full of rocks than an empty gun." He was also known to throw a coin in the air, draw and shoot it before it hit the ground.

After seeing Eaton ride a horse in the 1923 Armistice Day parade in Stillwater, a group of Oklahoma A&M College students decided that Eaton's "Pistol Pete" would be a suitable mascot for the school. They felt "Pistol Pete" represented the old west and the spirit of Oklahoma. However, it was not until 1958 that "Pistol Pete" was adopted as the school's mascot. The familiar caricature of "Pistol Pete" was officially sanctioned in 1984 by the university as a licensed symbol. Frank Eaton lived in Perkins until his death on April 8, 1958.

Images are copyright of The Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. and the artist.  Please contact Sandra Shelton at 521-5663 or shelton@oksenate.gov for further copyright information.