After living in Waynedale in my formative years, it was an adjustment, to say the least, to move to different states every few years, when my husband transferred. The last place we moved to was Louisville, about thirty years ago. It was with great trepidation that I moved to a place that was reputed to be nothing but barefoot hillbillies. I had seen the movie, “Deliverance” and watched, “The Beverly Hillbillies” along with everyone else. Any way, I heard a funny story about a “Kentucky Native” who lived in Kentucky. Only this wasn’t a human, it was a crow. The crow’s name was Pete. He lived in Georgetown, Kentucky from 1829 to 1832. He was so renowned that he has earned a permanent exhibit in the Georgetown Museum nearly two centuries later.
The story goes that Pete was the property of Dave Adams, who operated a hat shop in town, and regularly attended horse races at a track on the edge of Georgetown.
Race starters in those days yelled, “Go!” to send off the horses. One day, without any prompting, Pete yelled, “Go!” in the excitement of a start. The crowd broke out in heavy applause. Soon after the crow discovered that he could yell, “Go!” and get a cheering crowd reaction, he apparently got the feeling of power and control. He began to yell it often when he was around horses. Unfortunately Pete lacked judgment. He sent so many of the horses on false starts, that he became more of a nuisance, although an amusing one, but he had many fans.
There is an account of his frightening a drunken wagon driver so badly—by alighting on the wagon and yelling, “Oh, Bill! Oh Bill! Go!!”…that the driver rolled off into the mud and was nearly run over by his own wagon.
He was said to be able to mimic the voices of many locals, and seemed to know when to use certain phrases. He may have learned a number of profanities from the local fishermen whose minnows he often stole from their buckets. After rudely pulling feathers out of a woman’s hat one day, he is said to have squawked, “Curse your soul! I’ll tell George Sawyer.” George worked at the hat shop.
In 1832, Pete was shot by a boy who was visiting Georgetown, presuming him to be an ordinary crow. Pete was buried with highest respects in a little coffin on the grounds of Georgetown College, with a sorrowful crowd in attendance as the college bell tolled.
A likeness of Pete is now in a Georgetown Museum. Just one more of the famous residents of Kentucky.
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