Who is Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton?
Duff Hale — Midlothian, Texas.
The deputy U.S. marshal and cowboy told a tale of his life in his 1952 autobiography, Pistol Pete: Veteran of the Old West. He claimed he killed 11 men in fair gunfights, including five who had murdered his father.
Most of the book, however, appears to be fictional. He offered no corroborating sources for his claims or records of his amazing feats.
Ramon Adams wrote Eaton’s book shared a “most preposterous tale,” among other fictions, and he quoted a statement by another reviewer: “Books like this one are a distinct menace to Western history.”
While riding in a 1923 Armistice Day parade in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Eaton so epitomized the Old West that some students at Oklahoma State University (then Oklahoma A&M College) decided to model the school mascot after Pistol Pete.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.