John Horton Slaughter

For other people named John Slaughter, see John Slaughter (disambiguation).
John Horton Slaughter
Birth name John Horton Slaughter
Nickname(s) Texas John Slaughter
Born October 2, 1841
Sabine Parish, Louisiana, USA
Died February 16, 1922(1922-02-16) (aged 80)
Douglas, Arizona

American Civil War, American Indian Wars
Comanche Wars
Apache Wars


(1) Eliza Adeline Harris Slaughter (married 1871-1877, her death)

(2) Cora Viola Howell Slaughter (married 1879-1921, his death)

From first marriage:
Addie Slaughter
Willie Slaughter
Adopted in second marriage:

Apache May Slaughter
Other work Texas Ranger, Rancher, Sheriff, United States Marshal
John Horton Slaughter with his shotgun.

John Horton Slaughter (October 2, 1841 February 16, 1922), also known as Texas John Slaughter, was an American lawman, cowboy, poker player and rancher in the Southwest. After serving in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War of 1861-1865, he fought against hostile Indians, Mexican and American outlaws. In the latter half of his life, he lived at the San Bernardino Ranch, a well-preserved National Historic Landmark in Cochise County in far southeastern Arizona.


Early life

Slaughter was born on a Southern plantation in Sabine Parish near Many in western Louisiana.[1][2][3][4] His parents were Benjamin Slaughter and the former Minerva Mabry.[1] He was educated in schools in Texas in Sabine County and Caldwell County.[1] From Mexican vaqueros, he learned how to herd cattle and how to speak Spanish.[1]

In the early 1860s, he defended European settlers against the Comanche tribe as a Texas Ranger.[1] Shortly after, during the Civil War, he served in the Confederate States Army (C.S.A.).[1] He fought Union forces in Burnet County, West of the capital city of Austin, Texas.[1][3]


In 1874, he, along with his brother, became a cattle driver in Atascosa County south of San Antonio, Texas.[1] The two formed a cattle-transporting company, the San Antonio Ranch Company, which drove cattle to Kansas via the Chisholm Trail.[1][4] One (if not the only) of his cattle drive bosses was his first cousin Lewis Warren Neatherlin. Neatherlin's brother, James Franklin Neatherlin, also the Slaughter brothers' first cousin, assisted on the drive.[5]

In the late 1870s, Slaughter left Texas for New Mexico, where he traded cattle and planned to start a ranch.[1] However, he decided to establish the ranch in Arizona Territory.[1] After settling in Charleston, Arizona, he acquired the San Bernardino Ranch near Douglas, Arizona.[1][3]

In 1886, he was elected sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona, five years after the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.[1][2][6][7] He was re-elected to a second term.[1] As the sheriff, he helped track Geronimo, the Apache chief who was caught on the San Bernardino Ranch.[1][3][6] Slaughter fought for law and order with his six-shooter, a repeating shotgun, and Henry rifle.[7] He arrested desperados like the Jack Taylor Gang and brought them to justice.[3][7]

He also became a prominent poker player, often playing poker all night long.[4][7] He was reportedly good at bluffing.[7] He often played with the cattle baron John Chisum.[7] Once, in San Antonio, Texas, he was cheated out of his win by cattle rustler Bryan Gallagher.[4][7] To retrieve his money, Slaughter went all the way to New Mexico, where he found him on Chisum's ranch and shot him down.[7]

Personal life

He married Eliza Adeline Harris on August 4, 1871.[1][3] Of their four children, only two, Addie and Willie, survived until adulthood.[1] Eliza died in 1877 of smallpox in Tucson, Arizona.[1][2]

On April 16, 1879, Slaughter, at the age of thirty-seven, married eighteen-year-old Cora Viola Howell at Tularosa, New Mexico Territory.[1][2][3] The Slaughters had no children of their own, but they adopted several children, one having been Apache May, whom Slaughter had encountered in 1896 while chasing the Apache Kid in Mexico.

Years later when he became ill, the Slaughters moved to an apartment on Twelfth Street in Douglas, Arizona.[3][6]


Slaughter was found on the morning of February 16, 1922 in his Douglas apartment, having died sometime during the previous night.[1][6]

The ABC television miniseries, Texas John Slaughter, with Tom Tryon in the title role, is inspired by his life story. The series began as a Wonderful world of Disney series in 1958.[1][8]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Amanda Oren, "SLAUGHTER, JOHN HORTON," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed August 07, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "John Slaughter".
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "John Slaughter Dies in Douglas". Tombstone Epitaph. February 19, 1922. p. 7.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Clifford R. Caldwell, John Simpson Chisum: Cattle King of the Pecos Revisited, Santa Fe, New Mexico: Sunstone Press, 2010, pp. 77-78
  5. Kelley, J. (1988, Spring) Up the Trail in '76: The Journal of Lewis Warren Neatherlin, Chronicles of Oklahoma, 66(1), pp. 22-51. Published by the Oklahoma Historical Society
  6. 1 2 3 4 "J. H. Slaughter Dies at Douglas". The Copper Era and Morenci Leader. Clifton, Arizona. February 17, 1922. p. 1.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Alton Pryor, The Lawmen, Roseville, California: Stagecoach Publishing, 2006, pp. 95-97
  8. Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), pp. 116-117


Baird, Clayton. "I Knew John Slaughter." Real West, September 1972.

DeMattos, Jack. "Gunfighters of the Real West: John Slaughter." Real West, March 1982.

Erwin, Allen A. The Southwest of John Horton Slaughter 1841-1922, Pioneer Cattleman and Trail-driver of Texas, the Pecos, and Arizona and Sheriff of Tombstone. Glendale, CA: The Arthur H. Clarke Company, 1965.

Farfan, G.B. "Patchy Slaughter." Frontier Times, September 1963.

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