Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Burk Burnett Cattleman and Gunfighter

Burk Burnett was often noted as being a man of strict morals and shrewd business practice. In some circles he is also known as a skilled gunman and a force to be reckoned with. Among Burnett's legacies was his support in 1877 when he met with others at; "Graham, in Young County, and formed the organization that would become the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association".^1 An organization which is still active and growing to date. Of his less noted accomplishments were the killings of two noted cattle thieves on the North Texas plains, Jack King and Parley Sayers. The first took place on June 7, 1879 when Burnett was confronted by Jack King who had been found in possession of  an estimated 20 cattle branded with the 6666 brand after a brief confrontation King dismounted his horse and charged toward Burnett when he was brought down by a gunshot to the head. Later in  life at age 63 in 1912 Burnett was again confronted by Parley Sayers in the lavatory of the Goodland Hotel dining room in Paducah,Texas. Witnesses say Sayers reached for his gun, but was outdrawn by Burnett and killed by a single shot to the chest. In both instances Burnett turned himself into local law enforcement and stood trial for murder. In both cases Burnett was acquitted on grounds of self defense. In the case of Jack King, Burnett was even noted as having done a service to the public during the reading of the verdict. Though other stories have been told around the campfire of Burnett having killed other men these two were the only official shooting ever reported.
1.DeArment,RK.” The Gunfights of Pioneer Cattlemen: Burk Burnett”. Wild West 18(2005).32-36.

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