Born in Bates County, Missouri, on Jan. 1, 1849, to Jeremiah and Mary Turner Burnett, Samuel Burk Burnett became one of the most well known and respected ranchers in Texas. His parents were in the farming business, but in 1857-58, conditions caused them to move from Missouri to Denton County, Texas, where Jerry Burnett became involved in the cattle business. Burk, 10 years old at the time of the move, began watching the nature of the cow business and learned from his father.
At age 19, Burk went into business for himself with the purchase of 100 head of cattle, which were wearing the 6666 brand. With the title to the cattle came ownership of the brand. Burnett survived the panic of 1873 by holding over 1,100 steers he had driven to market in Wichita, Kansas through the winter. The next year, he sold the cattle for a profit of $10,000. He was one of the first ranchers in Texas to buy steers and graze them for market.
During the winter of the following year, Burnett bought 1,300 more cattle in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and drove them north up the Chisholm Trail to the open range grazing lands near the Little Wichita River. He soon saw the need to have control over the lands on which his cattle fed and began buying property. He also decided to build his first headquarters near what would later be Wichita Falls, Texas. Drought conditions in the 1880s forced Burnett and other ranchers to go in search of grass for their cattle. The tribal lands of the Kiowa and Comanche north of the Red River in Oklahoma had not suffered the dry conditions which had devastated the range farther south.
So Burnett negotiated with legendary Comanche Chief Quanah Parker (1845-1911) 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. He is pictured here with Captain Burnett's son, Tom.
Burnett kept running 10,000 cattle until the end of the lease. The cattle baron had a strong feeling for Indian rights, and his respect for these native peoples was genuine. Where other cattle kings fought Indians and the harsh land to build empires, Burnett learned Comanche ways, passing both the love of the land and his friendship with the Indians to his family. As a sign of their regard for Burnett, the Comanches gave him a name in their own language: “MAS-SA-SUTA,” meaning “Big Boss.”
The much-needed lease continued until the early 1900s at which time the federal government ordered the land turned back to the tribes. Burnett traveled to Washington, D.C., where he met with President Theodore Roosevelt to ask for an extension on the lease. Roosevelt gave the ranchers two more years, allowing them time to find new ranges for their herds.
In the spring of 1905, 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.
As the 19th Century drew to a close, the end of the open range was apparent. The only protection the cowman had was the private ownership of land. A purchase around 1900 of the 8 Ranch near Guthrie, Texas, in King County from the Louisville Land and Cattle Co., and the Dixon Creek Ranch near Panhandle, Texas, from the Cunard Line marked the beginning of the Burnett Ranches empire. The 8 Ranch became the nucleus of the present day Four Sixes (6666) Ranch. These two large purchases, along with some later additions, amounted to a third of a million acres.
In his personal life, Burnett, at age 20, had married Ruth B. Loyd, daughter of Martin B. Loyd, founder of the First National Bank of Fort Worth. They had three children, two of whom, sadly, died young. Only their son Tom lived on to have a family and build his own ranching business. Burnett and Ruth later divorced, and he married Mary Couts Barradel in 1892. They had one son, Burk Burnett, Jr., who died in 1917.
Since 1900, Burnett had maintained a residence in Fort Worth, where his financial enterprises were headquartered. He was director and principal stockholder of the First National Bank of Fort Worth and President of the Ardmore Oil and Gin Milling Co. He made frequent trips to his ranches on his own custom-designed railroad car, carrying him from Fort Worth to Paducah, Texas. From there, he hitched his horse and buggy for the 30-mile drive south to Guthrie.
Burnett added to and developed his holdings, including the building of the Four Sixes Supply House and a new headquarters in Guthrie. In 1917, Burnett decided to build “the finest ranch house in West Texas” at Guthrie. It cost $100,000, an enormous sum for the time. Prestigious architectural firm Sanguiner and Staats of Fort Worth was hired to design a grand home to serve as ranch headquarters, to house the ranch manager and as a place to entertain guests. It was constructed with stone quarried right on the ranch. Other materials were brought in by rail car to Paducah, and then hauled by wagon to Guthrie.
With 11 bedrooms, it was, indeed, a favorite place to welcome guests. Burnett's hospitality engaged such well-known visitors as President Roosevelt, Will Rogers and others. The home was filled with amazing items. In the main room, alone, visitors would see hunting trophies, exquisite art and personal items given to Burnett by his friend Quanah Parker and the Comanche chief’s wives. These priceless items remained in the house long after Burnett’s death and through several home remodeling projects. They were given by Burnett’s great-granddaughter, Anne W. Marion, to the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock, Texas. Also of interest to note is that although Burnett had a bedroom in the home's southeast corner, he chose to sleep in the back room of the rudimentary Four Sixes Supply House, where he maintained his office.
In 1921, oil was discovered on Burnett's land near Dixon Creek, and his wealth increased dramatically. This discovery, and a later one in 1969 on the Guthrie property, would greatly benefit the Burnett family ranching business as it grew and developed throughout the 20th Century.
Captain Samuel “Burk” Burnett passed away on June 27, 1922. His will provided for the appointment of two trustees to manage his holdings. They, along with their successors, ran the Four Sixes Ranch until 1980, when Burk Burnett’s great-granddaughter, Anne W. Marion, took the reins into her capable hands.
In the final years of the 1860s, Fort Worth, Texas, was so undeveloped it had only a couple of businesses and few families. Originally a military outpost, Fort Worth was transformed as drovers, bringing cattle north along the Chisholm Trail, stopped to purchase supplies and get news related to the trail. During 1871 alone, more than 650,000 head of cattle passed through Fort Worth.
M.B. Loyd came to Texas after the Civil War and for five years gathered and sold wild South Texas cattle. The large number of cattlemen in those post-Civil War years created a need for a reliable banking enterprise in Fort Worth. Therefore, Loyd used his cattle profits to open the Loyd Exchange Office on the square in Fort Worth in the early 1870s, making him the first permanent banker in the city. It was the beginning of a life in high finance. The loan exchange business soon proved insufficient, and in March, 1873, with a capital stock of $40,000, Captain Loyd and an associate chartered the California and Texas Bank of Loyd, Markley and Co. In January 1877, he and several associates pooled their interests to create the First National Bank of Fort Worth – the ninth national bank to be chartered in the United States.
As a banker, Loyd developed many lasting relationships with cattlemen. His daughter, Ruth, married Samuel “Burk” Burnett, a cattleman who held interests in several banks in Texas. In 1883, Loyd named Burnett to the Board of Directors of the First National Bank of Fort Worth. The union joined the interests of two influential Texas businessmen. The marriage also produced children, one of whom was Thomas Loyd Burnett.
Along with his extensive support for cattlemen, M.B. Loyd made many loans for the purchase of racehorses. The craze for ownership was a result of the construction of a half-mile racetrack built two years prior to the arrival of Loyd in Fort Worth. Owning racehorses quickly became a symbol of status, and like many other men of wealth, Captain Loyd began amassing his own stable of fine racehorses. He branded his stock with the single letter L. His interest soon grew to incorporate breeding and selling of quality race and cutting horses. With his death in 1912, his interest in horses and the land surrounding Wichita Falls passed through inheritance to his grandson, Thomas Loyd Burnett. His L brand remained on the Burnett horses and is still used today.
In addition to his passion for racehorses, M.B. Loyd collected more than 130 weapons produced in the 18th and 19th centuries. He acquired firearms from the United States, Great Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Albania, Spain, Belgium and Holland. Many of the weapons reflect the history of America, including a matched pair of Colonial-era flintlock dueling pistols and an 1841 rifle manufactured by Eli Whitney. Prominent in the collection is a pair of large .45 caliber derringers with brass-tipped ramrods that by all appearances have never been fired. They are among the finest sets in existence, according to experts.
The collection stayed in the family until 2002, when M.B. Loyd’s great-great-granddaughter, Anne W. Marion, a trustee of the Anne Burnett Tandy Testamentary Trust, gifted the collection to the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock, Texas.
Thomas Loyd Burnett blazed his own trail. Born December 10, 1871, he was one of three children of Samuel “Burk” Burnett and Ruth Loyd, daughter of M.B. Loyd, the Fort Worth banker. At the time of his father’s death in 1922, Tom was the famous old cowman’s only living child.
Starting as a ranch hand, Tom learned the cattle business in the 1880s and 1890s in the Indian country between the Wichita Mountains. After school in Fort Worth, St. Louis and at the Virginia Military Institute, the 16-year-old began moving cattle on the Burk Burnett Ranch. When autumn came, he worked as a wagon hand in the Comanche-Kiowa Reservation, drawing the same wages as other cowboys.
For five years, he worked as a line rider on his father’s ranch, which spread over more than 50,000 acres on the Red River. As he approached the age of 21, Tom was made wagon boss of the Nation (Indian Territory) wagon. That same year, on Oct. 8, 1891, he married Olive “Ollie” Lake of Fort Worth, and the couple lived at the Burnett Ranch House while Tom ran the Indian Territory unit of the Four Sixes Ranch. They had one daughter, Anne Valliant, born in 1900.
Tom had good instincts about horses and cattle, and he was respected among cowmen and ranch hands following several incidents. In 1898, during a bitter-cold March wind, Tom had the task of moving 5,000 steers across the Red River from the Indian Territory to shipping pens on the Texas side. He got the herd across in weather few cattlemen would have faced. Another time, In 1902, with a chuck wagon and a few hands, he drove 90 horses owned by his grandfather, M.B. Loyd, through the open country from Palo Pinto County to the Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie.
In 1905, the Burnett’s hosted a wolf hunt in the Big Pasture, land leased from Comanche and Kiowa Indians, and invited President Theodore Roosevelt and others, including Chief Quanah Parker, as guests. Tom took a chuck wagon, horses and a group of cowboys to a site near present day Frederick, Okla., where he set up camp for the President’s 10-day stay. In a letter dated April 20, 1905, Roosevelt wrote to his son, Ted: “I do wish you could have been along on this trip.” The hunters, he explained, had “17 wolves, three coons and any number of rattlesnakes.” The President also wrote, “You would have loved Tom Burnett, son of the big cattleman. He is a splendid fellow, about 30 years old and just the ideal of what a young cattleman should be.” One of Tom’s proudest possessions was the saddle Roosevelt used on that hunt. The President’s assessments were accurate: at age 30, Tom had already established himself as a respected cowboy and was on his way to becoming a cattle baron. He had his own cattle, leased the old ranch in Wichita County and established his home and headquarters eight miles east of Electra. In 1910, he acquired the 26,000 acre Triangle Ranch at Iowa Park.
When M.B. Loyd died in 1912, Tom inherited one-fourth of his grandfather’s Wichita County properties and a large sum of money. Oil discoveries in the county further enlarged his fortune.
In 1918 or 1919, variously recorded, Tom and Ollie divorced. This did not please Captain Burnett, who had very high regard for his daughter-in-law Ollie and her thoughtful and sensible ways. Tom’s subsequent marriages were short-lived.
Tom continued to expand his Triangle holdings, buying five ranches in the next 15 years. These were consolidated into one vast range of more than 100,000 acres. As an independently wealthy cattleman, Tom became a rodeo impresario, financing and promoting some of the biggest rodeos in the Southwest. He also developed a passion for good cow horses and later bred Palominos that he featured in fairs, parades and rodeos.
Following in the footsteps of his grandfather M.B. Loyd and father Burk Burnett, Tom grew interested in banking and civic development and became a major stockholder in the Iowa Park State Bank. In the Depression of the 1930s, he often helped people in need, one example being a sizeable donation to the town of Wichita Falls to buy lunches for school children.
Tom Burnett died on December 26, 1938, leaving his estate to his only child, Anne Valliant Burnett. His death came in the midst of a long-range campaign to build a fortune equal to that of his father. He fell short of that objective, but he was known in the cattle world as one of the pacesetters of his time. Tom was described by friends as a man who represented the Old West and stood for its traditional ideals of generosity and rugged fair play.
“Miss Anne” was the only daughter of Tom Burnett and Olive Lake. Born on October 15, 1900, in Fort Worth, she was named for her father Tom's little sister, Anne Valliant Burnett, who died young. Miss Anne was known for her knowledge of cattle, horses and fine art. She established the $200 million Burnett foundation in 1978 to support projects ranging from horse ranching to museums.
Although she was schooled in the East and raised in a society atmosphere, Miss Anne valued the ranch as part of her heritage. She divided much of her time between her home near the Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth and the Triangle Ranch that her father established near Iowa Park, Texas.
Like her father, Miss Anne was a keen judge of both horses and cattle. Along with her second husband, James Goodwin Hall, she assisted in the formation of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA). She was a founder of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and was the first woman to be named an honorary vice president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) and AQHA.
Miss Anne had only one child - also named Anne but often called “Little Anne” - from her marriage to James Goodwin Hall. In 1969, Miss Anne married Charles Tandy, founder of the Tandy Corporation. Known as a strong-willed woman, Miss Anne was called gregarious by many who knew her, and friends say she did not pamper her daughter, “Little Anne.”
Miss Anne was particularly interested in the Quarter Horse breeding operation at the ranch and was noted for her champions, Grey Badger II and Hollywood Gold, from which many top racing and cutting horses are descended. She was inducted posthumously into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame.
Prior to his death in 1922, Miss Anne's grandfather, Captain Samuel “Burk” Burnett, willed the bulk of his estate to Miss Anne in a trusteeship for her yet unborn child. At the time of Miss Anne’s death on Jan. 1, 1980, her daughter Little Anne - Anne W. Marion - inherited her great-grandfather Captain Burnett's ranch holdings through directives stated in his will. She then sold the Triangle Ranch her grandfather Tom Burnett had developed and donated the Burnett home in Iowa Park to the city for use as a library.
For generations, ranching has played an important role in the family of Anne W. Marion (known during childhood as “Little Anne”), current president of Burnett Ranches, LLC which includes the Four Sixes Ranch. Among her other leadership positions are president of the Burnett Foundation and Burnett Companies and chair of the Burnett Oil Co. Inc.
Her family tree, as noted above, is a who’s who of Texas ranching and commerce. She is the daughter of Anne Burnett Tandy and James Goodwin Hall. Her grandparents included Tom Burnett, who built the Triangle Ranches near Iowa Park and Paducah, and Ollie Lake.
Her great-grandfather was rancher/oilman Captain Samuel “Burk” Burnett, who founded what would become the Four Sixes Ranch and other Burnett holdings. Her great-great grandfather was Captain Martin B. Loyd, who established the First National Bank of Fort Worth.
Following the death in 1922 of Captain Burnett, ownership of the ranch was left to Anne Marion, his great-granddaughter, (in fact, yet to be born), with a life estate to Burnett's daughter-in-law, Ollie Lake, and his granddaughter, Anne Valliant Burnett Tandy (“Miss Anne”). The property was held in trust until the death of Miss Anne in 1980 and then passed directly to her daughter, Anne Marion.
At a young age, Little Anne spent summers on the Four Sixes, earning the respect of the cowboys as she learned to ride horses and do the things they did. Ollie Lake, who maintained a lovely home in Fort Worth, provided her granddaughter with the emotional support she needed and further established in the young girl a love for ranching and its traditions. “She’s the one that told me the old stories,” Anne Marion said. “She had the background of the Depression, and she kept telling me that I was lucky to have all that I do and not to waste it.”
“Little Anne” was educated at Briarcliff Junior College in New York; The University of Texas at Austin; and the University of Geneva in Switzerland, where she studied art history.
In 1988, Anne married John Louis Marion, honorary chair of Sotheby’s Inc. She has one daughter, Anne “Windi” Phillips Grimes, who also has one daughter, Anne “Hallie” Grimes.
Mrs. Marion assumed management of the Four Sixes in 1980. Not since Captain Burnett founded and built the Four Sixes more than a century ago has any family member taken as much interest in the ranches as she, according to her former, long-time ranch manager, the late J.J. Gibson.
“She always respected my judgment, but she had her own ideas, too.” Gibson had said. “She is a real hands-on type. The love of the land is in her blood.”
Veterinarian and Four Sixes Horse Division manager Dr. Glenn Blodgett agrees, saying, “Anne is a very capable leader who looks to the future and has changed with the times. She surrounds herself with loyal, dedicated employees who share her vision for perfection. Anne has overseen and directed the ranching and horse operation to a new level in recent years. I look for more of the same management style in the future.”
Anne Marion also is highly regarded as an arts patron and shrewd businesswoman. Her husband is proud of her strong will and determination and her ability to move easily from social settings to business.
“It’s fascinating to see her at the board table talking about oil and cattle,” John Marion said. “But she has another side, too. She’s a very astute art collector. Very cultured. Very refined.”
Mrs. Marion is a director emeritus at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and was inducted into its Hall of Great Westerners in 2009. Her great-grandfather, Samuel “Burk” Burnett; her grandfather, Tom Burnett; and her mother, Anne Burnett Tandy; also are Hall Of Fame inductees there. Her own honors also include the Golden Deed Honoree as selected by the Fort Worth Exchange Club, 1993; The Charles Goodnight Award, 1993; induction into the Texas Business Hall of Fame, 1996; The Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts award, 1996; The American Quarter Horse Association Merle Wood Humanitarian Award, 1999; The National Golden Spur Award, 2001; The Boss of the Plains Award from the National Ranching Heritage Center, 2003; induction into the American Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame, 2007; and induction into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, 2014.
“The most important thing that ever happened to me was growing up on that ranch,” Mrs. Marion said. “It kept my feet on the ground more than anything else.” While her civic and cultural activities extend throughout Texas and the United States, her deepest commitment is to her birthright and the continuing success of the historic Four Sixes Ranch.