Talking crow has colorful history in Georgetown
Millions of crows have made Kentucky their home through the dim mists of time, but few have earned individual mention in a history book or talked their way into their own exhibit in a museum.
Pete accomplished both.
He was the star attraction at a hat shop in Georgetown from 1829 to 1832, or so the story goes in B.O. Gaines’ History of Scott County, Kentucky, Vol. II. We know nothing of Pete’s age, his life before he came to live at the hat shop or his early education. But if we are to believe this brief page of history, Pete was a talker with a fairly impressive vocabulary—at least for a crow.
It’s long been known that some pet crows can be taught to speak, and it’s assumed that the hat shop owner, Dave Adams, must have been a major influence on Pete.
Adams was an avid horse racing fan and often took Pete along to races on the edge of Georgetown. Many race starters in those frontier days simply yelled, “Go!”
Gaines tells us that one day in the excitement of the start, Pete yelled, “Go!” and was rewarded with applause. Upon discovering that he could yell “Go!” he began to shout it often around the horses, sending them on many bad starts.
He was believed to have picked up several profanities from local fishermen whose minnows he often stole from their buckets. And it’s recorded that when he was thrown out of a woman’s house after plucking feathers from her hat, he yelled, “Curse your soul, I’ll tell George Sawyer!” George worked at the hat shop.
Some townspeople claimed that he often greeted them with, “Good morning! A cold, frosty morning!” And it was reported that a drunken wagon driver fell off the wagon into the mud and was nearly run over by his own wheels when Pete alighted on the wagon and exclaimed, “Bill, oh Bill, oh Bill!”
One man claimed that Pete said, “They haven’t got as much as I could eat,” when someone walked past with a basket on their way to the market.
Sadly, Pete’s life was cut short when a boy who was visiting Georgetown mistook him for an ordinary crow and shot him. A small coffin was built by students at Georgetown College, and Pete was given a proper burial on the campus. The location of his grave is unknown.
There is today a permanent exhibit in Pete’s honor in a back corner of the Georgetown-Scott County Museum: an animatronic, talking Pete replica that entertains museum visitors from a perch atop a post.
Retired Georgetown College Theatre and Film Studies Professor George McGee, a member of the museum board and a consumer-member of Blue Grass Energy, believes a marker should be placed somewhere on the college campus to commemorate Pete’s colorful contribution to local history and folk life.
So far, the college administration has not given its approval, but McGee is not giving up hope.