Welcome back. Now after nearly 80 years, name of the author is almost lost in time but her writing about the life story of one man in particular is still read daily. Her name was Eva Gillhouse and like me, during the writing of my book Footprints in the Dew Eva sat day after day interviewing her subject. Unlike my subject though, Eva’s book would be about a man of the law.
Born on October 26, 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut, his father moved the family to Kansas along the Santa Fe Trail while he was young. It was just after the Civil War and at 8 years old the boy watched as former Confederates, called regulators, shot his father eight times on the front porch of their house killing him. That was in 1868 and although he was still a child after that he became the best shot the soldiers at Fort Gibson had ever seen. You see the boy had been cursed.
“My boy may an old man’s curse rest upon you if you do not try to avenge your father.”
This statement was made to him by his father’s best friend as they laid his dad in the grave. When he got older he moved to Indian Territory and grew to be a man, all the time searching for the men responsible for killing his father.
The man Eva wrote about would become a top cowboy, a scout for the Calvary, an Indian fighter when he had to be and Deputy United States Marshall under Judge Parker, the so-called “hanging judge” in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He brought in cattle rustlers and murders, many slung over their saddles killed when they refused to give up peacefully He had a lightning fast draw and up until the day he died in 1958 at the age of 98 Eva said he never lost his memory or that draw.
You may have guessed the man’s name by now, but if not here’s a couple more clues. In 1923 he gave permission for Oklahoma A&M which nowadays is called Oklahoma State University to use his photograph for the design of the college emblem. The University’s beloved mascot was based on this photograph as well. New Mexico State University and the University of Wyoming also received permission to use his likeness.
This well-known man’s name was Frank Eaton or as he is more commonly known to thousands of college students and graduates, Pistol Pete. And yes, he did catch up with the regulators who had killed his father and lifted the curse.
A Veteran of the Old West: Pistol Pete is hard to find but your Bartlesville Library has a copy. Eva Gillhouse did a wonderful job researching and writing the book even though today she is mostly forgotten like so many of us writers.
Next up Shawnee, Oklahoma where the oldest hamburger chain in the country started and where I will be working at another trade show. The following week I’ll be close to home at the R&K Gun & Knife Show in Tulsa. Before long the college football season will be starting too and once again I have the good fortune to be doing some book signings with Joe “Silver Shows” Washington and rumor has it he’ll be in Bartlesville soon. I’ll let you know.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…………….