“Texas” John Slaughter

The West was a raw land, full of good men and bad and it was always a race to see who would win.

No one was tougher than John Horton Slaughter, or Texas John as he was called, and before he reached his prime, he became known as the “baddest good guy that ever lived.”

He was born in 1841 and set out to prove himself, possibly because he only stood 5’6” tall. But small stature aside, he made quite a name for himself as a Texas Ranger and then a fighter for the Confederate army. During this time, he showed himself adept with weaponry and his fiery temper was legendary. Everyone learned to stay clear of him when he was angry. Outlaws often froze when they stared into his hard eyes.

Among those who admired his guns were Wild Bill Hickok, Big Foot Wallace, King Fisher, Sam Bass, Billy the Kid, and Pat Garrett.

He was equally admired for his ranching ability. When he developed a successful ranching operation in South Texas in the 1870s, he inspired loyalty from those who worked for him. Two were ex-slaves who were loyal their entire life. John made no distinction in the color of a man’s skin and he treated them well.

In 1871, he married Eliza Harris but she died of smallpox a few years later.

One lawman who chased outlaws with John remarked, “He was like a spider spinning his web for the unwary fly.”

And when he ordered a man, “to lay down or be shot down,” his lips barely moved. One thing for sure, you’d best move fast and oblige.

But John Slaughter had a bad vice—he loved to gamble, sometimes for three or four days straight before finding his way home. That didn’t set too well with his, second wife, sixteen-year-old Cora Viola Slaughter, and they had some mighty big fights. She threatened to leave him on more than one occasion, although she never did.

He moved his ranching operation to Cochise County, Arizona and in November 1886, he was elected sheriff, only the third one they had. Shortly after, the lawless men decided it was a good time to leave the territory or be killed. His gun became a symbol of the law during his Tombstone days. He was quick with his wits, fast on the draw with his pearl-handled revolver, and doggedly determined to clean up Tombstone. He was absolutely fearless because he was convinced he had a guardian angel and would never die from a bullet. He didn’t hesitate to ride off alone into the vast six thousand square miles of Cochise County in pursuit of a bad man and he never returned until he’d dealt with him.

In 1896, he and Cora adopted a baby girl they named Apache May after he found her while chasing Apache Indians in Mexico. Shortly after, he bought a large ranch called the San Bernardino at Douglas, Arizona and it had an unusual feature. Half of the house was located in the U.S. and half in Mexico.

The Slaughters loved Apache May or “Patchy” as they called her. When she was a young girl, she was playing near a scalding pot in the yard and fell into it. She was too badly burned to survive and was buried on the ranch.

Texas John lived to be the ripe old age of 81. True to his lifelong belief, he died in his sleep on February 15, 1922 and was buried in the cemetery at Douglas, Arizona. Cora outlived him by nineteen years.

He’d cleaned up Arizona Territory more than any other single lawman and carved his name in history.

I wonder if you’ve ever heard of him. Have you ever felt you have a guardian angel watching over you?


“Texas” John Slaughter — 11 Comments

  1. Good morning Linda- WOW, Texas John was an amazing lawman. I really loved this article. Very sad about Apache May “Patchy” death. How horrid. Have I ever had a Guardian angel? Yes, I was very sick as a baby and spent 26 days in Cooks Ft. Worth children’s hospital, in an incubator, I was pronounced dead 3 times and my parents were told many times to just go to the chapel and pray. Toward the end of my 26 days my parents witnessed a tall red-headed orderly giving me CPR and saving my life. They wanted to personally thank him, but the entire hospital staff swore no one fitting his discriotion worked there. My dad said the tall red-headed orderly looked just like my mom’s German grandfather who had passed on many years before. They never found this man again, but both my mom and dad swear to what they witnessed and they both claim after not finding him that they watched a guardian angel save me. I still get cold chills hearing this story. Whoever he was either real or a guardian angel, I owe him my life.
    Linda you have a very blessed and prosperous week. Love you my sister friend.

    • What an amazing story Tonya! You definitely have or had a guardian angel. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Miss Tonya…..What an amazing story! It gives me chills as well. I do say you had and still have guardian angels. I think we all do. When I was about 5 years old, there was this old man with a long beard who used to walk past our house. He was stooped shouldered and walked with a cane. One day I was playing outside and he stopped. I had tons of warts all over me back then, especially on my face. He told me if I would give him a penny he’d take my warts. I ran into the house and told my mama. She got a penny and gave it to him and he touched me and my warts were gone, all except a few. I still have one my face but it’s nothing like I had. Shortly after that we didn’t see him walking past our house any more. I never knew what happened to him.

      You have a great day too. Sending lots of love, sister friend!

      • Linda- your story is amazing. I’m glad you listened to him. It says God walks among us in many forms and to treat everyone the same. I think our healing God visited you that day. I truly loved this article and the question you asked us was amazing. I hope you’re having a productive writing day. I had to tackle this computer today but after a few hiccups it decide to work with me. Silent prayers I think worked their magic on it. Love you sister friend.

        • Tonya, I believe that he was an angel or maybe higher than that. I still remember what he looked like. I wasn’t really afraid of him. I think I knew he wasn’t going to hurt me. Writing is going well.

  2. Oh my! What an exciting life Texas John Slaughter lived! I love reading stories like this. And I do believe I have heard his name before in other books. It sounds very familiar. Oh how my heart breaks for him and Cora over Patchy’s death. What a terrible way to die especially for a little one.

    Have I ever felt a guardian angel watching over me? Ooh absolutely! This story belongs to my mom… she was very sick with pneumonia and was in the hospital. She had been sleeping and woke up suddenly and looked at the end of her bed and saw her brother Dale holding her baby sister. Uncle Dale passed before I was born and her sister passed when my mom was just a child. She just stared at them and then they faded away. Uncle Dale and my mom were very close when he was alive. That is why I’m named after him (even tho I’m a woman with a man’s name) lol But I would not change my name for anything. And I myself have felt my grandpa around me at times. He was my heart.

    Thank you for such a wonderful story. I’m almost done with The Heart of a Texas Cowboy!!! I will post my review when I finish. 😀

    • Hi Dale……Thanks for coming! What a story you shared. That was amazing. I do believe that our loved ones who’ve passed on watch over us. There are just too many instances not to believe that. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about Texas John. I thought his story was very interesting. Especially his belief that he had a guardian angel watching over him.

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying The Heart of a Texas Cowboy! I look forward to your review.

      Big hugs and much love!

  3. No I haven’t heard of Texas John and my father lived part-time in Douglas, Arizona when he dealt cattle in Mexico. I was in my late teens and early twenties at that time and didn’t seek out the Historical sights in the area. I now wish I had.

    No I have never felt like I’ve had a guardian angel. If I have one he/she hasn’t been doing a very good job. Lol However it does make me wonder if I do there must be some major incidents I’ve thwarted. Yet on the other hand I think of things I have done in my past and I’m lucky I’m still alive and well. I’ve always looked at that as God was looking over me though. I’d like to think my brothers are my guardian angels!

    • Hi Stephanie…….Thanks for coming. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. I totally understand your frustration about not paying attention to the history of Douglas. I do the same thing about places I’ve been and lived. I’m sure your dad probably knew of him since he ran cattle. About guardian angels…I think we all have them and also loved ones who’ve passed on watching over us. I’m sure your brothers ARE your guardian angels. And God is watching over us too. I’m glad you’re in one piece and here and that we got to meet through my books.

      Love you, special lady!

  4. Yes I most certainly do believe in Guardian Angels for in a particular instance April 27, 2011 after I got of work I was going to stop at Hobby Lobby store and I can stay hours in that store. I had even went as far as to get in the turning lane to go to Hobby Lobby but someone spoke and said you need to get home and not stop today so I didn’t. Most of Alabama was under a tornado watch that day and around 5pm the time I would most certainly have still been in the store it was hit with a F5 tornado and completely gutted the building the tornado created utter destruction to a huge part of Tuscaloosa that day a generational tornado it was called. I’ll never forget how I felt when I saw what was left of that store I still thank God for sending me an Angel to say not today don’t stop today.

    • Hi Miss Glenda…….Thank you for coming over! I love it. And your story gave me chills! Wow! I’m glad you listened to the voice and didn’t stop. We never know what’s coming and if we didn’t get these premonitions and warnings we’d probably not be alive. There have been so many times when I listened to my gut and did the opposite of what I planned. And who knows when we run into roadblocks driving that take us out of our way what we narrowly missed. Maybe we’d have been in a bad accident or something. We’ll never know. But I am truly thankful for my guardian angels.

      Hugs and much love, sweet lady!