John Horton Slaughter

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For other people named John Slaughter, see John Slaughter (disambiguation).
John Horton Slaughter
John Horton Slaughter.jpg
Nickname(s) Texas John
Born October 2, 1841
Sabine Parish, Louisiana, United States
Died February 16, 1922
San Bernardino Ranch, Arizona, United States

American Civil War
Comanche Wars
Apache Wars

Relations Eliza Adeline Harris
Viola Slaughter
Apache May Slaughter
Other work Texas Ranger, Sheriff, United States Marshal

John Horton Slaughter (October 2, 1841 – February 16, 1922), or sometimes Texas John Slaughter, was an American lawman, Civil War soldier, and gambler. Over the course of his long life, John Slaughter served as an honorable soldier and lawmen throughout much of the Southwest. He fought in many skirmishes against all sorts of enemies, including Union soldiers, hostile natives, and Mexican and American outlaws. In the latter half of his life, he lived at the San Bernardino Ranch, which is now a well-preserved historic site in southern Arizona.


John Horton Slaughter with his shotgun.

Slaughter was born on October 2, 1841, in Sabine Parish near Many in western Louisiana, to Benjamin Slaughter and the former Minerva Mabry.

In later years, he was described as follows: "Slaughter, with penetrating black eyes, was only 5 feet 2 and often stuttered. But he wore a pearl-handled .44 and carried a 10-gauge, double-barreled, sawed-off shotgun, 'which was an equalizer.'"[1]

After serving in the army of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, Slaughter was a member of the Texas Rangers before becoming a cattle business man around 1874. He and his brother formed a cattle-transporting company that took cattle to Mexico, California, Kansas, and New Mexico; one (if not the only) of his cattle drive bosses was his first cousin Lewis Warren Neatherlin (whose diary [1] has been published), assisted by his brother James Franklin Neatherlin. It was in California that Slaughter became an avid poker player. He began to gamble in a compulsive way while in California.

Slaughter married Eliza Adeline Harris on August 4, 1871. Of their four children, only two, Addie and Willie, survived until adulthood. In 1876 in San Antonio, Texas, Slaughter caught a poker rival, Barney Gallagher, cheating at the poker table. Gallagher won the game, but Slaughter pointed his gun at him as he collected his earnings. Gallagher became enraged and followed Slaughter's trail to Slaughter's South Springs home, where he told a foreman to call Slaughter out, intending to kill Slaughter. The foreman gave Slaughter the message and Gallagher fired a shot as soon as Slaughter walked up to the door, but he missed. Slaughter killed Gallagher with a shot to the heart.

Slaughter's wife died of smallpox in Tucson, Arizona, in 1877. On April 16, 1879, Slaughter married eighteen-year-old Viola Howell at Tularosa, New Mexico. As Viola was very young, her mother disapproved of their relationship, but her father was more consenting. The Slaughters did not have any children of their own, but they adopted several children, one of them being Apache May, whom Slaughter had run into while chasing after the Apache Kid in Mexico in 1896. His gambling habit became such an addiction that Mrs. Viola threatened to leave him.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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

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