Compiled by E. Sue Terhune
SAMUEL BURK BURNETT
Founder of the Four Sixes Ranch, Guthrie, King Co., TX
Samuel Burk Burnett, founder of the Four Sixes Ranch, familiarly known as Burk Burnett, or Capt. Burnett, was born in Bates County, Missouri, on January 1, 1849. He came to Texas with his father, Jerry Burnett*, in 1859, immediately following the bloody Ruffin and Jayhawker's raids, which started in 1857 and resulted in devastating the homes of many people of the locality, including the Burnett's. Jerry Burnett and his family traveled from Missouri to Denton County, Texas, in a covered wagon when Burk was ten years old. Jerry Burnett, started immediately to acquire a herd of cattle which increased rapidly in numbers. The range was open and free in those days, with an abundance of grass and water, and it was in this setting that Burk Burnett acquired the experience which started him on his successful career in the cattle business.
During his father's service in Wells Battalion (CSA) during the Civil War, young Burk helped run the family's ranching operation. In the late 1860s, at the age of 18, Burk made his first cattle drive to Kansas.The following year he trailed his own herd up the Chisholm Trail and about 1870, he purchased a small herd of native cattle and the rights to the "6666" brand . In 1874, Burk became the first cattleman in Texas to purchase a herd and hold it for fattening. Burk moved to where Wichita Falls, Texas, now stands and established his headquarters. Dry range conditions convinced him to move to the Red River, north of Wichita Falls.
Captain Burk Burnett advanced rapidly in the cattle business and became extensively engaged in handling steers. From the early 1880s to the turn of the century he grazed thousands of steers in the [Kiowa?] and Comanche reservations of the Indian Territory. Knowing, that in order to successfully graze cattle in the Indians' reservations he must have their friendship, and he cultivated their good will. In his dealings with the Indians, Burk became a close friend of Chief Quanah Parker of the Comanches and, as a sign of their respect for Burk, the Comanches named him Mas-Sa-Suta, which means "Big Boss." In the spring of 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt toured the Indian lands in Oklahoma and visited some of the ranchers who had leased grazing land from the Indians, including the Burnetts. When the Federal Government was preparing to open the Territory to homesteaders, about 1900, the Government ordered the cattlemen to vacate their leases immediately, in the Kiowa and Comanche country. Burk traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt, who,understanding the cattlemen's plight, authorized a two-year extension so the ranchers could find other ranges for their cattle.
Soon after the right to lease ranch land terminated , he began to acquire his Texas land in 1900 by the purchase of the 8 Ranch, a 140,000 acres, near Guthrie, King Co., Texas. He bought the Dixon Creek ranch in 1903, composed of 107,520 acres and located just south of the Canadian River in Hutchinson Co. of the Texas Panhandle. These properties, together, comprise approximately one third of a million acres and constitute the Four Six ranch property. Along with a few later purchases, Burk had amassed more than a third of a million acres. He not only acquired one of the leading ranch properties of Texas, but built up one of the best improved commercial beef herds in the state. In 1921, the discovery well for the Panhandle Oil Field was brought in on the Dixon Creek Ranch.
Samuel Burk Burnett, in his last will and testament, provided for numerous bequests to relatives, friends, and old employees. He left to the city of Forth Worth a down town park, composed of on square block, as a memorial to his son, Burk, Jr. In his later years he made his home in Fort Worth, where he died Jan. 27, 1922, at the age of 73.
*Samuel Burk Burnett was the son of Capt. Jeremiah Burnett and Nancy Turner. Capt. Jeremiah was son of Samuel Burnett and Lavinia Cox; Samuel Burnett was son of Jeremiah Burnett and Effariah Crowley.
Descendants of John Burnett; 10 Generations (family of Burk Burnett)