Tuesday, May 26, 2015

RAGS TO RICHES CATTLE KING OF TEXAS


This is a true story of rags to riches. Christopher Columbus “Lum” Slaughter claimed to be the first male child born of a marriage contracted under the new Republic of Texas. He was born on 9 February 1837 to Sarah (Mason) and George Webb Slaughter in Sabine County.  Lum was a ranching pioneer, banker, millionaire, and philanthropist. Yet at one time, he was so poor he had to ride bareback because he didn’t own a saddle.

Christopher Columbus "Lum" Slaughter
He was educated at home and at Larissa College in Cherokee County. As a boy he worked cattle with his father and at age twelve helped drive the family's ninety-two-head herd to a ranch on the Trinity River in Freestone County, where the family moved in 1852. Because of his expertise in herding cattle across the often swollen river, he was regularly employed by drovers bound for Shreveport with Brazos-country livestock. At age seventeen he made a trading expedition hauling timber from Anderson County to Dallas County for sale and processing Collin County wheat into flour for sale in Magnolia, Anderson County, a trip that yielded him a $520 profit.

With what must have seemed vast wealth to him at that time, he bought his uncle's interest in the Slaughter herd. Having observed the better quality of the Brazos stock, he persuaded his father to move farther west. They selected a site in Palo Pinto County, well positioned to provide beef to Fort Belknap and the nearby Indian reservations. In 1856, Lum drove 1,500 cattle to his new ranch.
On 5 December 1861 (possibly 1860), Slaughter married Cynthia Jowell of Palo Pinto, Texas; they had five children. After being widowed in 1876, he married Carrie A. Averill (Aberill) in Emporia, Kansas, on January 17, 1877; they had four children.

When open war with the Indians broke out in 1859, he volunteered his service and was in the expedition that unexpectedly liberated Cynthia Ann Parker from a Comanche camp. With the withdrawal of federal protection during the Civil War, Slaughter continued to fight Indians as a lieutenant in the Texas Rangers. He also served under Capt. William Peveler in Young County in the Frontier Regiment, part of the effort to maintain frontier protection during the war.

Nadua and Topsannah, 1861
Cynthia Ann Parker and Prairie Flower
When the Confederacy fell and Indian harassment continued, Slaughter and other ranchers started for Mexico in search of new ranchland. During the expedition Slaughter suffered an accidental gunshot wound that incapacitated him for a year, causing a nearly ruinous decline in his cattle business. After his recovery he started a cattle drive to New Orleans in late 1867, but en route contracted with a buyer for a Jefferson packing business to sell his 300 steers there for thirty-five dollars a head in gold, a large sum. At some time during this period, people began referring to him as Colonel Slaughter.

With his new stake he began regular drives to Kansas City in 1868, selling his herds for as much as forty-two dollars a head. He sold his Texas ranching interests in 1871 and in 1873 organized C. C. Slaughter and Company, a cattle-breeding venture, which later pioneered the replacement of the poor-bred longhorn with Kentucky-bred blooded shorthorn stock. By 1882 a herd shipped to St. Louis received seven dollars per hundred pounds, several times what he could have made selling in Kansas. His income increased until it reached $100,000 per year, at which time he began giving away money to charitable purposes, donating from 10 to 25 per cent of his income to philanthropy each year.

In 1873, Colonel Slaughter moved his family to Dallas and a few years later dissolved his partnership with his father. About 1877 he established one of the largest ranches in West Texas, the Long S, on the headwaters of the Colorado River and there grazed his cattle on the public domain. Desirous of becoming a gentleman breeder, Lum purchased the Goodnight Hereford herd in 1897 and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair grand champion bull, Ancient Briton. In 1899 he acquired the famous Hereford bull Sir Bredwell for a record $5,000.

C.C. Slaughter home, Dallas
Through these purchases Slaughter's purebred Hereford herd became one of the finest in the business. Around 1898 Slaughter undertook a major land purchase in Cochran and Hockley counties. He bought 246,699 acres, leased more, and established the Lazy S Ranch, which he stocked with his Hereford herd and mixed breed cattle from the Long S and consigned to the management of his eldest son.

In 1877, Slaughter helped organize the Northwest Texas Cattle Raisers' Association (later the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association), for which he also served a term as president in 1885. He was the first president of the National Beef Producers and Butchers Association in 1888, an organization formed to combat market domination by the meat-packing industry.

Frequently titled the "Cattle King of Texas," Slaughter became one of the country's largest individual owners of cattle and land. By 1906, he owned over a million acres and 40,000 cattle and was the largest individual taxpayer in Texas for years. For a time "Slaughter Country" extended from a few miles north of Big Spring for 200 miles to the New Mexico border west of Lubbock. By 1908–09, however, he opened his Running Water and Long S Ranches to colonization and sale.

Hereford cattle
Failure of the land company promoting colonization caused much of the land to revert to his ownership by 1911. Under the management of Jack Alley, it was restored to profitability by 1915. Slaughter maintained strict control over his operations until 1910, when he suffered a broken hip that crippled him for the remainder of his life, compounding problems caused by his failing eyesight. He consequently turned the business over to his eldest son, George.

In addition to ranching, Slaughter participated in banking in Dallas where he helped organize City Bank in 1873 and invested in the bank's reorganization as City National Bank in 1881. At that time he became its vice president. In 1884 he helped establish the American National Bank, which evolved by 1905 into the American Exchange National Bank (later First National Bank). He was vice president from its organization until his death.

Slaughter was a Democrat and Baptist who contributed two-thirds of the cost for the construction of the First Baptist Church in Dallas and served as vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, as president of the state Mission Board from 1897–1903, and as an executive board member of the Baptist General Convention of Texas from 1898–1911. His support of a plan to retire the consolidated debt of seven Texas Baptist schools and coordinate their activities into a system capped by Baylor University assured its acceptance by the general convention in 1897.

C. C. Slaughter breaking ground for what
would become Baylor Hospital in Dallas
Slaughter also contributed generously to the establishment of the Texas Baptist Memorial Sanitarium, which later became Baylor Hospital in Dallas. This is especially interesting to me, as both our daughters were born at Baylor Hospital in Dallas. He also contributed to the medical school and to the Nurses Home and Training School.

Colonel Slaughter often summed up his philanthropic philosophy saying, "I have prayed the Master to endow me with a hand to get and a heart to give."

Slaughter established this Free Clinic for Minorities
He died at his home in Dallas on 25 January 1919. However, his death precipitated a tangled family financial scandal. Less than a week after his death, his younger brother Bill, with whom he had had a long and strained financial relationship but who managed the Long S, was accused of fraud. Bill had attempted to sell his nephew Bob Slaughter’s new Western S Ranch on the Rio Grande in Hudspeth County to an unknown company from Mexico. 

C, C. Slaughter grave, Greenwood Cemetery, Dallas, Texas
Learning of the fraudulent negotiations and backed by his brothers, Bob confronted and fired his uncle. Although Bill Slaughter later filed a $3 million slander suit against his nephews, he apparently never collected anything from it. Colonel Slaughter’s family continued to give to causes close to the heart of C.C. Slaughter, and Baylor Hospital became one of many testaments to his generosity.

3 comments:

  1. Terrific post, Caroline! I have of course heard of Colonel Slaughter but wasn't familiar with his story. He surely was an impressive man, accomplishing so much in his lifetime. A real Texas icon! Thank you for sharing your research on him.

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  2. Wow. Very interesting. I was caught by his name. My paternal grandfather had a brother who was called "Uncle Lum." My sisters and I were searching in the Parker County Cemetery for a Lum Davis. I found him~! But on the headstone was:
    Columbus Americus Davis. "Uncle Lum." Isn't this interesting! Thanks for the very good post about Colonel Slaughter. A very impressive man, for sure.

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  3. It always amazes me how so many people rise from absolute poverty to super rich. What is that magic? Where does it come from? I'm sure part of it is luck, just being at the right place at the right time and saying "yes" to an opportunity. But I think much of it comes from a deep determination and drive inside a person which forces them to move forward along with some savvy financial decisions. Obviously I am not gifted in this area.
    I really enjoy reading about people who have become successful against all odds. It's so common for those who survive a person who brought money into the family to resort to underhanded tactics to get a piece of the wealth for themselves...no surprise there.
    Loved your post, Caroline.

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