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SLAUGHTER, JOHN HORTON

SLAUGHTER, JOHN HORTON (1841–1922). John Horton Slaughter, sheriff and rancher, was born in what would become Sabine Parish, Louisiana, on October 2, 1841, the son of Benjamin and Minerva (Mabry) Slaughter. He attended school in Sabine and Caldwell counties, but his formal education was limited. He learned Spanish and the art of cowboying from Mexican vaqueros. He also learned many lessons from the Indians that roamed the frontier of Texas. As a young man John ranched with his father and brothers. Just before the Civil War he enlisted as a Texas Ranger with Capt. John Files Tom's company to fight the Comanches. On March 9, 1862, he joined the Confederate Army, but by 1864 he was sent home because of illness. After recovering, he returned to service with the Third Frontier Division, Texas State Troops, in Burnet County. There he earned the reputation of a fearless fighter, skilled with firearms. After the Civil War he formed the San Antonio Ranch Company with his brothers and settled in Atascosa County. During this time he became one of the first people to drive cattle up the Chisholm Trail. He married Eliza Adeline Harris on August 4, 1871. They had four children, but only two survived to adulthood. By the late 1870s, Texas was becoming too crowded for Slaughter, so he left his wife and children in Texas while he went to look for a place to settle in New Mexico. After two years of buying cattle to start a new ranch, he began to look to southern Arizona instead of New Mexico. He had his wife and children join him in Tucson, but she died of smallpox soon thereafter. Slaughter left his children in Arizona and returned to New Mexico to get his cattle. While he was camping on the banks of the Pecos River awaiting the arrival of his herd, he met a family named Howell, whom he persuaded to combine their stock with his and move to Arizona with him. On the trip, on April 16, 1878, Slaughter married sixteen-year-old Viola Howell at Tularosa, New Mexico. The Slaughters settled south of Tombstone near Charleston, Arizona. Slaughter bought the San Bernardino Ranch near Douglas and in 1886 was elected sheriff of Cochise County. He served two terms, then helped the United States Cavalry against Geronimo's Apaches. Slaughter worked on his ranch until a few years before his death. He died on February 15, 1922, in Douglas, Arizona. In addition to his considerable fame as a lawman throughout Arizona and South Texas, he was the inspiration for Walt Disney's series of the late 1950s, "Texas John Slaughter."

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Allen A. Erwin, "John Slaughter: West of the Pecos," Persimmon Hill, Winter 1971. Allen A. Erwin, The Southwest of John H. Slaughter, 1841–1922 (Glendale, California: Clark, 1965). West Texas Historical Association Year Book, 1965.

Amanda Oren

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Amanda Oren, "SLAUGHTER, JOHN HORTON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsl10), accessed November 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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