Although John Horton Slaughter was born October 2, 1841 in Louisiana, his family moved to Texas when he was a baby. The family was known there for their huge cattle ranches and the nickname “Texas John” stuck. Slaughter became acquainted with the ways of the Indian growing up and became an excellent tracker and marksman, which would prove valuable in later life. Slaughter was small in stature, but that did not deter him from becoming a man to be respected by those who were on the side of the law…and feared by those who were not. The John Slaughter Ranch continues to be a staple in Arizona history.
When he was elected Sheriff of Cochise County in 1886, just five years after the OK Corral shoot-out, he accepted his responsibility with a passion to rid the county of the bad element that possessed him until the deed was accomplished. It has been said that he was “judge, jury and executioner” all rolled up into one. When he told the outlaw to “hit the trail,” they left. He is thought to have cleaned up the county of the bad element more than any other sheriff in history. He knew the Clantons, Earps, Johnny Ringo, Pancho Villa and their kind.
Folks say Sheriff Slaughter killed at least a dozen men “who had it comin’”. And most people believed that living by the gun meant someday you’d die by the gun too. Slaughter never thought so. He predicted he’d die in bed of natural causes at a ripe old age. He was right. He died with his boots off, in bed, at age 79, more than 20 years after retiring as Sheriff.