Before embarking on his mission to avenge his father's death, Eaton sought training at Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. The 15-year-old repeatedly competed with -- and beat -- the cavalry's best marksmen in shooting matches. In recognition of his prowess, Colonel Copinger, the fort's commanding officer gave Eaton the nickname that would stick with him throughout his life, "Pistol Pete." Allegedly, during his teen years, Eaton could outdraw Buffalo Bill Cody, and he was reputed to be a quick draw into his nineties.
Eaton began serving as a deputy U.S. Marshal in Indian Territory when he was just 17; his territory extended from Southern Kansas to Northern Texas. Eaton settled near Perkins, Oklahoma when he was 29, served as sheriff and later worked as a blacksmith. He wrote two books about his life in the Old West and spun yarns for the visitors that sat for a spell on his front porch. He was eminently quotable. After a girlfriend gave him a steel crucifix that reputedly deflected a bullet during a gunfight, saving his life. Eaton said, "I’d rather have the prayers of a good woman in a fight than half a dozen hot guns: she’s talking to Headquarters." Eaton usually carried a loaded Colt .45 and often claimed, "I'd rather have a pocket full of rocks than an empty gun."
The photos below come from BANC MSS 71/5, Frank Eaton autobiography and related material. They suggest Eaton was on friendly terms with at least some of his Indian neighbors, but further research is necessary before any such speculation can be confirmed.
The Bancroft's holdings also include copies of Eaton's autobiography, Pistol Pete: Veteran of the Old West as well as materials used to write it. See the Bancroft catalog for more information.
-- M. BryerThese photographs feature Eaton, his biographer, Eva Gillhouse, Rolla Goodnight, and a 104-year-old Indian chief and his family. The snapshots were taken at the Chief's home in Oklahoma in May 1952.
For more on Eaton's life, see, "Frank 'Pistol Pete' Eaton," Vertical File Biographies, Kansas State Historical Society,
http://www.kshs.org/genealogists/individuals/vertical/bios/eatonfrankpistolpete.htm and "Frank Eaton," Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Eaton