A John Slaughter Kid

The Story of May Watkins Burns

by Betty Barr

7.5 x 9.25, 146 pages, soft cover

ISBN 978-0-9790261-4-0

Price $15.00

Betty Barr is an award-winning journalist who specializes in uncovering hidden treasures – the people, places and things unique to southeastern Arizona. Her previous books include Hidden Treasures of Santa Cruz County, More Hidden Treasures of Santa Cruz County and Around Sonoita, one of the Images of America series by Arcadia Publishing. She co-edited, with Dr. William J. Kelly, a revised edition of Arizona in the ‘50s, a firsthand account of frontier life in 1857 by Capt. James Tevis. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and she is a regular contributor to Nogales International and Weekly Bulletin newspapers. A graduate of the University of Arizona, she lives in Sonoita, Arizona with her husband, John.

May Watkins grew up during the history-making days of early twentieth century Arizona. Her story is woven against the rich backdrop of John Slaughter’s San Bernardino Ranch, east of Douglas. Much has been written about “Texas John Slaughter,” cattle rancher, Civil War veteran, Arizona Territorial legislator and legendary sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona. Less well-known is the fact that Slaughter and his wife, Viola, fostered many children, known as “John Slaughter Kids.” May, a favorite of Slaughter, witnessed Pancho Villa waging a revolution just across the Mexican border, met members of the Lost Kickapoo tribe as they headquartered at the ranch on horse-trading trips, saw Arizona admitted as the 48th state of the union and along the way met many unforgettable characters such as former slave, “Old Bat,” Joe Lee May, the Chinese cook, Pancho Anderson, the chauffeur, and many others.

Slaughter sent her to Tempe Normal School where she earned her teaching certificate and secured a position at a junior high school in Tucson. There she met and married Tucson florist Hal Burns and together they raised a family of three children. Her devotion to the Slaughters was evidenced in the unique way her family life mimicked theirs, from their formal manners and their love of children to their welcoming hospitality. May passed away in 1992 at the age of 91, leaving an enduring legacy of the Arizona pioneering spirit to her children and grandchildren.


The book is available directly from the author.

For more information, or to order copies of the book, please contact the author at P.O. Box 226, Sonoita, Arizona 85637 and www.BrockingJbooks.com


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