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Medora rancher Pete Pelissier


Pete Pelissier, known as the “Buffalo Bill of the Missouri Slopes,” created a Wild West Show in the 1890s that performed around North Dakota. The show also traveled along the route of the Northern Pacific Railroad, appearing as far east as Boston, Massachusetts.

The specialty acts and Pete’s sense of showmanship and style were well received. He was an expert horseman, roper and all-around hand. His height and good looks further enhanced his showmanship.

Pete died on December 1, 1924, in Sheridan, Wyoming. His obituary in the Dickinson Press said, “. . . To know Pete Pelissier was to like him. He possessed that happy faculty of endearing himself to all with whom he came in contact . . . .”

Born on March 11, 1865, in Cold Springs, Minnesota, to Antoine and Samantha (Bonney) Pelissier, he moved with his family to the present-day Jamestown area in 1873.

In about 1883, Pete headed west, showing up at the Eaton Brothers’ Custer Trail Ranch near Medora. He was soon working for the HT Ranch, owned by A.C. Huidekoper. Also known as the Little Missouri Horse Company, the HT was considered one of the world’s largest horse outfits at the time, and Pete, a top-notch roper, became foreman/manager in 1886. Each spring, Pete led a crew to the New England and Bowman areas to gather wild horses, returning with 400 to 500 head.

Pete married Harriet Eaton, sister of the Eaton brothers of the Custer Trail Ranch, in December 1887. The couple built a horse ranch on Sully Creek south of Medora where they raised four children. Theodore Roosevelt was a personal friend and ranching associate of Pete’s. From 1896-1899, Pete served as Billings County sheriff.

He sold the Sully Creek Ranch ranch in about 1912, moving his family to Dickinson where the children had more educational opportunities. A number of years later, they moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, where Pete worked with the Sheridan city police force.

Pete was inducted into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in June 2012.

Dakota Datebook written by Cathy A. Langemo, WritePlus Inc.


ND Cowboy Hall of Fame Cowboy Chronicle – June 2012

Obituary – Dickinson Press, Dickinson, ND, Dec. 5, 1924

Death notice – Billings County Pioneer, Dec. 4, 1924

NDCHF nomination information – 2012