Prominent Texas rancher, banker, and oilman who founded the legendary Four Sixes ranch that is still thriving today.
1849-1922 | Artist: Othmar J. Hoffler (1893-1954)
Impact & Accomplishments
“Burk” Burnett was a prominent Texas rancher, banker, and oilman. Burnett’s family moved to Denton County, Texas, from Missouri, when he was a child. As a teenager, he led his first cattle drive along the Chisholm Trail and soon after, made his first cattle purchase, which came with ownership of a brand, 6666.
Four Sixes Ranch would become one of the largest cattle empires in Texas history. In the 1870s and 1880s, he negotiated lease agreements with his friend, Comanche chief Quanah Parker, and started to move cattle to Oklahoma Territory. He grazed up to 10,000 cattle on 300,000 acres there until the territory was opened to homesteading. Burnett then asked President Teddy Roosevelt for time to relocate the cattle operation.
Between 1900 and 1903, Burnett purchased more than a quarter million acres in Carson and King counties, Texas, and expanded his operation to 20,000 head. At Roosevelt’s suggestion, Burkburnett, Texas, was named for him. After the discovery of oil on his land in 1921, Burnett’s wealth increased dramatically. He turned the ranch over to his son and devoted his time to oil and banking.
Burk Burnett was treasurer of the Stock-Raiser Association of North-West Texas and president of both the National Feeders and Breeders Association and the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show.
Did You Know?
Four Sixes Ranch is part of the famous Burnett Ranches LLC, which is among the most storied family-run businesses in Texas history. Founded by Captain Samuel “Burk” Burnett in 1870—when he purchased 100 head of cattle wearing the “6666” brand from Frank Crowley of Denton, Texas—Burnett Ranches today encompasses 260,000 acres including the Four Sixes Ranch headquarters, near Guthrie, and the Dixon Creek Ranch, between Panhandle and Borger—both located in the western half of the state. Video courtesy www.6666ranch.com
Video produced by American Quarter Horse Association.
Burnett (right) negotiated with legendary Comanche Chief Quanah Parker (left) for the lease of the Indian lands. Not only was Burnett able to acquire the use of some 300,000 acres of grassland, he gained the friendship of the Comanche leader. Quanah’s mother was the white woman, Cynthia Ann Parker, who was captured in a raid on Parker’s Fort in 1836. She married Peta Nocona, war chief of the Noconi band of the Comanches. Quanah grew to be a great leader of his people and eventually a friend of white leaders and ranches in the Southwest.
In the spring of 1905, Teddy Roosevelt came west for a visit to the Indian lands and the ranchers whom he had helped. Burk Burnett, his son Tom, and a small group of ranchers entertained the old Roughrider in rugged Texas style. The highlight of the visit was an unusual bare-handed hunt for coyotes and wolves. The friendship which developed between Burnett and the President grew. In fact, it was Roosevelt, during a trip to Texas in 1910, who encouraged the town of Nesterville to be renamed “Burkburnett” in honor of his friend. Once oil was discovered, Burkburnett became the definition of "boom town".