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Working Ranch April/May 2016

looking backBY BERT ENTWISTLE As old West lawmen go, there have been quite a few featured on the silver screen and television. Wyatt Earp, Bill Tilghman, Wild Bill Hickok, Pat Garrett and John Selman are just a few that have been portrayed as an iconic Western sheriff or marshal. These men were real and played an important part in the settling of the “Wild West” of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Alongside these more well-known historical fi gures were many others who were just as important to the development of the West but not as famous. One of these, John Horton Slaughter, was a small man, standing about 5’ 6”; but he was a true giant in the history of the Southwest, particularly Arizona. He was born on a plantation in Sabine Parrish, Louisiana on October 2, 1841. While he was still an infant, his parents Benjamin and Minerva moved across the Sabine River to a land grant outside Lockhart, Texas and took up cattle ranching. Slaughter’s formal education was spotty, but working with the family and the vaqueros on the ranch taught him the cattle business from the ground up, and he became fl uent in Spanish along the way. He worked the family business until shortly before the Civil War when his taste for adventure called him to leave the ranch and sign up with the Texas Rangers to fi ght the marauding Comanches. In March of 1862, he saw a new SLAUGHTER RANCH MUSEUM “Texas” John Slaughter has quite an impressive resume; a cattle rancher by trade, he chased Comanches as a Texas Ranger, fought in the Civil War as a Confederate, drove cattle on all of the famous trails, and was a much-feared sheriff in Arizona. opportunity for adventure and enlisted in the Confederate Army. In 1864, after weeks of sickness, he was sent home. After he recovered, he returned to duty with the Third Frontier Division. He came out of the war with a reputation as a fearless soldier and good with fi rearms of all kinds. After the war John and his brothers moved to Continued on page 153 154 I WORKING RANCH I APRIL / MAY 2016


Working Ranch April/May 2016
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