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A tradition was born in the early 1920s when OSU (then Oklahoma A&M College) began searching for a new mascot. The true roots of Pistol Pete goback more than a century ago. Pistol Pete is more than a character, he is alegend.
The character of OSU’s mascot, Pistol Pete, originated from an actual person named Frank B. Eaton. Eaton’s life began in 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut. Eaton and his family moved to Kansas shortly after the Civil War.
Eaton's life would take a dramatic turn at the age of eight when he witnessed the murder of his father by six vigilantes. From that moment on, Eaton was determined to even the score. He practiced his marksmanshipuntil the age of 15, when he set out to search for his father’s killers. It took Eaton more than five years to track down and kill the men who had taken his father away, forever changing the course of his life.
The title of “cowboy” came naturally to Eaton as indicated in the roles in which he served throughout his life. Frank B. Eaton was given the nickname of “Pistol Pete” after beating out many cavalry competitors in a marksmanship contest at Ft. Gibson. He served as a U.S. Deputy Marshall under “hanging judge” Isaac Parker. Later in his life Eaton owned a blacksmith shop which served the surrounding communities.
In the 1920s, Eaton was involved in the Armistice Day Parade and OSU’s Homecoming Parade. This well-known and admired cowboy died in 1958. That same year Charlie Lester appeared as OSU’s first Pistol Pete mascot. Where Frank B. Eaton served as a strong symbol of the Old West then, “Pistol Pete” serves as a symbol of the cowboy spirit now and forever.