Slaughter was a
veteran, trail-driver, cattleman,
famed Cochise County Sheriff, professional gambler, and an
Representative during his lifetime. Before he died at the age of 80,
he was a symbol of the
West and much celebrated hero.
John was born in
Sabine Parish, Louisiana on October 2, 1841 to Benjamin and Minerva
Mabry Slaughter. However, when he was just three months old, his
family moved to a land grant near Lockhart,
began raising cattle.
Though schooled in
Sabine and Caldwell counties, Slaughter’s formal education was brief.
But the boy was a quick learner and found other opportunities to
increase his knowledge such as learning how to speak Spanish and
skills from Mexican vaqueros. As a young man, he ranched with his
father and brothers and just before the
began, he enlisted as a
with Captain John Files Tom's company to fight the
The diminutive, 5
foot 6 inch man, with penetrating black eyes and a sometimes
stuttering voice, was evidently determined to make his mark upon the
On March 9, 1862, he
joined the Confederate Army, but by 1864 he was sent home because of
an illness. However; after he recovered, he returned to service with
the Third Frontier Division,
Troops, in Burnet County, where he earned a reputation of a fearless
fighter skilled with firearms.
When the war was over, he and his brothers
Ranch Company in Atascosa County,
they not only raised their own cattle but also transported herds to
They were some of the first to ever drive cattle up the
Chisholm Trail. While he was in
a cattle drive he became an avid
poker player, a
compulsion that would follow him throughout his life.
On August 4, 1871, he married Eliza
Adeline Harris and the two would eventually have four children, though
only two would survive to adulthood.
1876, Slaughter was playing
poker in a
he caught another player named Barney Gallagher cheating. When Gallagher
won the hand, Slaughter challenged him with a gun and took back his
losses. Later, the cheating man was so enraged that he followed Slaughter
to his ranch where he told the foreman to call him out, intending on
killing him. As soon as John came in sight, Gallagher took a shot at him
but missed. Slaughter returned fire and Gallagher
fell dead on the ground with a bullet in his heart.