Sam Hext was born a slave in Florida around 1842. He was taken to Jasper County, Texas, in 1844 and there adopted the name Hext. He was probably freed in 1851 upon the death of Mrs. James Heartly Hext and accompanied her son Joseph to the Cherokee area of San Saba County in 1853. "Old Sam," as he came to be called, constructed a rock dam at Hext Spring, west of Cherokee, and became a cowboy and Indian fighter. He trailed cattle for the Gray brothers to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, in 1868. At Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos, Indians ran off 400 of the 2,000 longhorn cattle in the herd. The 1870 census of San Saba County listed Hext as a cattle driver with a personal estate valued at $200. He was literate and was appointed trustee to oversee the founding of the school at Salt Creek in San Saba County in 1879. He moved to Greer County in 1890 with his wife, Julia Ann, and five children.