John Horton Slaughter
(October 2, 1841 - February 16, 1922)
Born in Louisiana, John Slaughter moved to Texas with his family where he learned his cowboy skills. Early on, he engaged the Commanches. It was this "training" that would benefit him later.
In a cattle partnership with his brothers, herds were driven to markets in Kansas, Mexico and the Gulf Coast. Soon, John Slaughter moved his herd to New Mexico picking up "strays" along the way.
Slaughter was arrested for killing Barney Gallagher who had planned to get even over a gambling grudge. John was released and moved near the Tombstone, AZ area. During the time when the Earps harassed ranchers in the area accusing them of being rustlers, the Earps never bothered John H. Slaughter. John, then, moved a little east of Tombstone when he bought the San Bernadino Ranch near Douglas, AZ.
The ranch was in the heart of Apache territory and this was the time when Geronimo was being pursued. Yet, probably because of the great respect held, Slaughter had little trouble with this nomadic band.
In November of 1886, Slaughter was elected Sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona The area was filled with outlaws and rustlers. John Slaughter warned these desperados to leave the area or be killed. It was during this time, Slaughter was called "the meanest good guy who ever lived".
John Slaughter was small in stature and tall in respect. On one occasion, Pancho Villa killed some of his cattle for food. Never hesitating, Slaughter mounted a horse and confronted Villa. John returned with 20 gold pieces.
John Slaughter was a pioneer, cattleman, trail driver and lawman. One of those great old west characters that receives little press.
He is buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Douglas, Arizona.
Information compiled by Steve Grimm
Drawing by Richard Florence
Books About John H. Slaughter
The Southwest of John Horton Slaughter by Allen A. Erwin
The only dedicated book about John Slaughter. It is a good book, but contains a few errors which are minor. These errors, however, do not damage the John Slaughter story. A book worth reading.