ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Legendary "Pistol Pete" Eaton

Updated on August 28, 2015

Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton

You might not have heard of Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton, one of the most feared gunfighters of his time and quite likely the youngest Deputy U.S. Marshal in history. Surprisingly, many haven’t. His colorful exploits have made other famous lawmen and outlaws pale by comparison.

He was born Francis Boardman Eaton on October 26, 1860, in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1868 his family became part of the homesteading rush where they settled near Carbondale, Kansas in Osage County. It was here 8-year old Frank Eaton’s destiny became sealed. He witnessed his fathers’ murder by a ruthless gang of southerners calling themselves “The Regulators.”

A close friend of his father, Mose Beaman, told the young boy “May an old man’s curse rest upon you, if you do not try to avenge your father.” It was this man who gave Frank his first pistol, an old Navy revolver, and taught him how to shoot. Eaton practiced religiously and soon became extremely proficient in its use. He swore to track down his fathers’ killers.

Too Young To Enlist

At the age of 15, he went to the 6th Calvary at Fort Gibson to enlist. However, he was too young. The fort commander, Colonel Copinger, allowed the lad to stick around and compete in marksmanship contests. His rivals were some of the best the Calvary had to offer. He won hands down every time and earned the nickname of “Pistol Pete.” He was also awarded a Colt .45 pistol.

During his teen years, Eaton was said to be faster on the draw Than Buffalo Bill Cody. He was to become known as “packing the fastest guns in Indian Territory.”

Eaton's Quest

Eaton’s quest for his fathers’ killers now began in earnest. He got wind two of them, Doc Ferber and Shannon Campsey, were in a cabin on the Canadian River southwest of Webber Falls. Eaton rode up to the cabin. Campsey was on the porch and upon spotting Eaton grabbed his rifle and took aim. Eaton’s fast draw left him dead. He found Ferber tending cattle nearby and killed him also.

Campsey and Ferber were both wanted by the law for rustling cattle. The Cattlemen’s Association heard of Eaton’s actions and hired him as a detective. Within 3 months he had accounted for 3 more of his father’s murderers. That left 2 more with which to settle the score. One of these was killed in a crooked card game. The last was a man named Wyley Campsey.

In 1885, Eaton served as a scout for Capt. Emmett Crawford during the Indian wars against Geronimo and the Apache’s. Eaton narrowly escaped being scalped. He then returned to Indian Territory where he became a Deputy U. S. Marshal for the “Hanging Judge,” Isaac Parker at the age of 17. In the line of duty, he was to kill 6 more men.

Soon after, Eaton heard Wyley Campsey was working in a bar in Albuquerque. New Mexico. Along with Pat Garrett, Eaton entered the saloon. Campsey was at the bar with two body guards. Eaton yelled “fill your hand, you son of a bitch!” Campsy went down with 2 bullets through his heart as he reached for a gun under the bar.

However, the two guards wounded Eaton in the leg and left arm. Garrett and a few friends helped Frank to get out of town.

Eaton was said to wear a cross around his neck given to him by a girlfriend, which he wore around his neck. A story tells it saved his life when it deflected a bullet during a gunfight.

Eaton always wore his cowboy hat, vest and other personal western wear. His long mustache and braided hair was his trademark. When someone asked about his long hair, he replied, “If the girls are going to cut theirs off, I’ll let mine grow.”

In 1923, Oklahoma A & M, now Oklahoma State University, students asked him to be the model for their campus mascot. Pistol Pete is still the mascot today. His likeness was also used as the mascot of the University of Wyoming and New Mexico State University.

From 1950 to 1956 Eaton wrote a weekly column for a local newspaper called “Truthful Pete Says” and later changed to “Pistol Pete Says.” He wrote about his recollections of frontier days his philosophy of life and humorous incidents.

With the help of Eva Gillhouse, a close friend, Eaton wrote his autobiography,” Pistol Pete, Veteran of the Old West” in 1952. The Chicago Tribune hailed it as “an exciting genuine bit of Americana.”

In 1955, Eaton accidentally fired his gun in the Student Union Varsity Room at Oklahoma A & M College while demonstrating his fast draw. He was asked why he would be carrying a loaded gun. In reply Eaton answered, “By George. I’d rather have a pocketful of rocks than an unloaded gun.” On occasion, he was known to throw a coin in the air, draw and shoot it before it hit the ground.

Eaton married twice. He had nine children, 31 grandchildren and lived to see three great-great-grandchildren. He died on April 8, 1958 at the age of 97.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      John Parcels 

      6 years ago

      This isn't for posting, just a suggestion that you check Eaton's autobiography concerning why he went to the fort. I think you'll find it was to learn more about shooting rather than to join. Indeed, he was too young, but it wasn't his intent. Also, Pete says he did not let Garret go into the saloon with him when he shot Campsey AND his two body guards. Hope this is helpful. PS: You will also learn more from an interview he taped in 1956, in addition to the autobiography.

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Well, a gentleman for a change.

    • Brian Burton profile image

      Brian Burton 

      6 years ago

      Fascinating article and well written. Very nice sir. As Pamela said, I also did not know anything about him other than hearing the name a few times.

    • profile image

      Mike in Oklahoma 

      6 years ago

      I read some of Mr Eatons personal property was traded for a headstone for his grave, then some of that property was donated to OSU and put on display then stolen.

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Mike, Seems I read about his pistols somewhere, but off hand I don't recall.

    • profile image

      Mike in Oklahoma 

      7 years ago

      What became of his pistol(s)

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Well, Pam. It has become my sole purpose in life to inform you of important things like this. :-) I appreciate your support. I know anything I write will be read by you and Luckykats, Thanks

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Interesting story about Pistol Pete. I didn't really know anything about him before. Thanks.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)