Samuel Burk Burnett and the 6666 Ranch



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Samuel Burk Burnett was born in Missouri in 1849. He migrated to Texas prior to the Civil War and became one of the most influential Texas cattlemen. A complex figure, Burnett played a crucial role in the growth and development of the cattle trade in Texas. He founded the 6666 Ranch in 1871, and became one of the largest private land owners in Texas. Later, he was a founding member of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and served as the organization’s treasurer for forty-five years. Burnett leased land on the Kiowa, Comanche, Apache Indian Reservation in Indian Territory between 1881 and 1906, and befriended the Comanche chief, Quanah. Politically, Burnett aligned himself with Democrats, such as Joseph Weldon Bailey, but maintained friendships with important Republican leaders, such as Theodore Roosevelt. Burnett emerged as one of the most important voices of stock raisers in the United States. An important agricultural leader, he also invested in banks, railroads, urban real estate, and oil. Burnett’s wealth and influence made him a celebrity. He twice killed men in disputes over cattle, and skillfully utilized his celebrity status and the media to mold public opinion. His son, Thomas Loyd Burnett was an equally influential cattleman. Following the death of Samuel Burk Burnett in 1922, the S. B. Burnett Estate managed his assets until 1980, at which time Burnett’s granddaughter took control of his enterprise. The 6666 Ranch is still in operation today. As a result of the myth that shrouds his story, the actual facts of Burnett’s life have not been adequately examined. Through dedication, hard work, and sacrifice, Burnett grew from cowboy to cattleman. Like all dedicated entrepreneurs, Burnett faced challenges along the path to success. From his early efforts as a cowboy working in partnership with his father Jerry and his father-in-law M. B. Loyd, to his time in Washington, D. C., Burnett single-mindedly focused on his enterprise, sacrificing all else. While his personal relationships with his family members suffered, Samuel Burk Burnett emerged as one of the wealthiest, most powerful, and influential political voices of the cattle industry in the Southwest.

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