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The Sixes; 1922

" There ain't much reason to put a four in front of the Sixes, son. This is Texas. "

Samuel Burk Burnett was born in Missouri in 1849, but he got to Texas as soon as he could.

He learned cattle from his father who ranched in Denton County. He was 19 years old when he drove his first herd to Wichita, Kansas, and sold them for $10,000 US dollars. With that money he bought land along and south of the Red River northwest of Wichita Falls, Texas for 35 cents an acre. Then bought more cattle.

He moved those cows to a 300,000 acre leased pasture in Oklahoma. That pasture produced over 11,000 cows to his name by 1885. Every cow he sold from the 'big pasture' in Oklahoma across the Red, the Kiowa and Comanche got a royalty from.

In 1893 Mr. Burnett bought the old 8 Ranch in King County; the wild cows on that 142,000 acre ranch had the 6666 brand on them of the seller, the Louisville Land and Cattle Company. Burnett kept the brand and changed the name of the 8 to the Four Sixes. Story has it he won the Sixes Ranch in a poker game, with two pair of sixes, but the Deed of Trust filed in King County shows differently and Mr. Sam's heirs deny the poker hand story.

King County is the second, least-populated county in Texas with a total population of 316.

Mr. Sam moved the 8 Ranch headquarters over to Guthrie, the county seat for King County and eventually built a magnificent house on the Sixes that was finished by 1914. It cost over $100,000.

The following year Mr. Burnett bought another 108,000 acres along Dixon Creek in Carson County, about 300 miles north of Guthrie and the two Sixes Divisions in Guthrie and Dixon Creek were re-surveyed many times and found to contain pretty close to 267,000 acres, a lot of it not fenced. The ranch spread across King, Carson and Hutchinson Counties and included a small, 10,000 acre pasture in Sherman County.

Mr. Burnett became very good friends with President Theodore Roosevelt who would travel to the Texas Panhandle every year by train, spend days with Mr. Burnett at the Guthrie headquarters to hunt antelope, then wander up into the Oklahoma to camp for weeks at a time and hunt wolves.

When Burnett sold all of his land on the Red River, north of Wichita Falls to developers, a budding community grew up and Teddy Roosevelt later suggested it be called Burkburnett, in honor of his old friend. It's hard to say no to an ex-president.

In the photo, below, oil was found in the area in 1912 and the population of Burkburnett exploded to over 24,000.

Mr. Sam leased most of the oil and gas minerals on his Panhandle ranches to various companies beginning in 1917, including Gulf Oil and Skelly. In a letter he wrote to his friend Sid Williams in Fort Worth in 1920 Mr. Sam wrote... “This puts four of the best outfits in Texas drilling in there [Dixon Creek Ranch], and they should get something by spring if there is any oil field up there. Of course, this would put the ranch out of business as far as cattle are concerned. But there is more money in oil than cattle, don’t you think?”

Samuel Burk Burnett died the following year, in 1922, a few months after Gulf Oil was beginning to discover one the largest oil fields in Texas history on the Dixon Creek Division in Carson County, south of Borger.

Gulf's first well in Carson County on the Sixes was to the west of the No. 1 and it found reef like limestone at approximately 2,700 feet that tested dry gas. The same stratigraphic interval had tested gas in other counties in the Palo Duro Basin of the Texas Panhandle. The Palo Duro is sandwiched between the Amarillo Uplift to the north and the Matador Arch to the south. To the east and north lies the great Anadarko Basin, to the Southwest the Permian Basin,

Gulf moved structurally down into the basin, to the east, looking for an oil leg in a limestone pay that was likely the equivalent of Strawn, even Granite Wash in the Anadarko Basin, and found it in the Burnett No. 2 in April of 1922!

The well blew in and went on pump for 240 BOPD of 35 gravity oil, and no water. The Gulf 2 well pumped until 1973 when it was plugged and abandoned.

The No. 2 well kicked off the great Panhandle Field in Carson and Hutchinson Counties and one of the greatest oil booms in worldwide oilfield history in the town of Borger, a story in itself and one I tend to tackle soon, called Booger Town. THAT is going to be a helluva story.

On the left is a 1926 photograph of later development on the Sixes, in what was called Dixon Creek Canyon. By 2o26 Gulf was making 200 BOPD wells pretty regularly on the ranch. A local refinery was built in Borger.

Below are two historical markers on Highway 207 just south of Borger. On both sides of the highway are the distinctive maroon colored gates and fence posts of the the Four Sixes Ranch in Carson County.

Carson County produced approximately 191,000,000 barrels of oil the past 100 years, mostly all of it shallow, marginal stripper wells. The S.B Burnett Estate and the Sixes still has nearly 400 wells on it and that is approximately what the daily oil production is, 400 BOPD. Scout Energy is still developing gas on the west side of the Dixon Creek Division.

Marginal Strawn gas was found on the Guthrie Division of the Sixes in King County beginning in 1938 and some fairly significant oil discoveries were made on the ranch by 1969 in the east, on the eastern margin of the Basin, in Strawn, Marble Falls, Tannehill and even Ellenberger formations. The Sixes has royalty under a Strawn CO2 flood now operated by Kinder Morgan and High Resolution Resources operates a number of wells on the ranch north and east of Guthrie. King County has produced 129,000,000 barrels of oil to May of 2023.

In a brochure for the sale of the Sixes Ranch in 2020, royalty income was estimated to be half million dollars per year; today that is likely to be closer to $1 MM per year. A quarter of the minerals were conveyed when the ranch was sold in 2020.

It was bought by a partime San Marcos/Austin boy named Taylor Sheridan of Yellowstone fame.

Above, the Guthrie Division of the Sixes in King County, all dressed up with Her Sunday-go-to-church clothes on.



[1] First photo is of the Horse Division Headquarters right off the highway in Guthrie. The statue is of the famed standing stud on the Sixes, Dash For Cash, whose children have won nearly $40MM in AQHA Futurities across the county.

[2] Chase Middleton, Realtor, Lubbock

[3] King and Carson County; Texas State Historical Society

[4] Four Sixes Website

[5] Texas Portal of History

[6] Personal conversations with Sixes employees and the Director of the Oil Museum in Borger

[7] Texas Railroad Commission

[8] AAPG

[9]Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame

[10] Special thanks to Jay Miller and his grandfather, George H. Pratt, Jr., Gulf Oil Operating Company

[11] Last photo, Mike Shellman

I wrote this little piece with great attention to detail and with great pride.

God Bless Texas.


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