Skip to Main Content

The Frank Eaton Collection: Home

About the Collection

Frank Boardman Eaton was born October 26, 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut. At the age of eight, he moved with his family to Twin Mounds, Kansas to homestead. Shortly after their relocation, Eaton witnessed his father's murder. He practiced his shooting, and as a teenager of fifteen he engaged in gunfights to avenge his father's murder. Eaton served as a deputy U.S. Marshall in Indian Territory under the "hanging judge," Judge Isaac C. Parker. At 29 he joined the land rush to Oklahoma Territory. Eaton served as the model for OSU's mascot "Pistol Pete". He settled near Perkins, Oklahoma where he served as sheriff and later became a blacksmith. He lived there until his death on April 8, 1958.

"Eaton was known as "Pistol Pete," a nickname he acquired at the age of fifteen when he outshot United States cavalry men in a contest at Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. 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 as "Pistol Pete" would be a more suitable mascot than their current Tiger. They felt that "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 Oklahoma State University as a licensed symbol.

The University of Wyoming and New Mexico State University also claim "Pistol Pete" as a mascot. In 1993 the University of Wyoming and Oklahoma State University signed a concurrent use agreement regarding the use of "Pistol Pete" as a mascot.

The drawing on the upper right-hand side of the banner on this webpage is a clipping from an original Conte' crayon and ink drawing of Frank Eaton, created by artist C.L. Packer in 1957. The full image can be found within the Frank Eaton digital collection.

Related Materials

For related digital materials please see the Pistol Pete Interview Series conducted by the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program at the OSU Library.

Collection Inventory

To view an inventory of all of the items in our Frank Eaton collection (collection 1995-010), please click here.