The Van Trump Report

It’s Official… Legendary “6666 Ranch” has New Hollywood Owners

The long-rumored deal for one of America’s most historic ranches is “officially” official – the legendary 6666 Ranch in West Texas has been sold. The more than 266,000-acre property first established in 1870 is now owned by a group led by Hollywood writer Taylor Sheridan, who is probably best known for the hit television series “Yellowstone.” The deal  “secretly” closed back in March and the sale was reported widely at the time, but the new owners only officially announced the sale in early June. Often referred to as the “Four Sixes Ranch,” the property was originally listed for $341 million but it’s unclear what the final sale price was. It was disclosed only as “more than $320 million.”    

Four Sixes was founded by cattleman Samuel “Burk” Burnett, who was born on a farm in Bates County, Missouri, in 1849. Burnett’s parents relocated to Denton Country, Texas, when he was around 8 years old. He had little formal education but he eagerly learned everything he could about ranching from his father, who became a cattleman when they got to Texas. At age 19, young Burnett was able to buy 100 head of cattle of his own, all wearing the “6666” brand. While working in partnership with his father, he continued acquiring his own cattle and serving as trail boss for his father’s +1,200 head heard along the Chisholm Trail to Abilene.

Burnett made a handy $10,000 profit around 1874 from cattle he’d held over the winter in an effort to ride out the so-called “Panic of 1873.” He was one of the first ranchers in Texas to buy steers and graze them for market. That same year, Burnett moved his cattle from South Texas to the area of Little Wichita, now Wichita Falls, where he established his ranch headquarters in 1881. The move was partly prompted by the increase in the number of Four Sixes cattle and a land lease agreement drawn up between Burnett and Quanah Parker, Comanche chief, and friend of Burnett.

Burnett acquired the use of some 300,000 acres of Comanche grassland, where he ran over 10,000 head of cattle2. After 1898, cattlemen were told to surrender their lease agreements to allow the opening of Oklahoma Territory to homesteaders. Burnett called on a friend for assistance, this time none other than President Theodore Roosevelt, who extended the lease for two more years.

Between 1900 and 1903 Burnett purchased 107,520 acres in Carson County northeast of Amarillo and bought the Old “8” Ranch, of 141,000 acres, near Guthrie in King County, ninety-three miles east of Lubbock. The two purchases increased the size of the Four Sixes to 206,000 acres. Ultimately, Burnett owned ranches in Oklahoma and Mexico, in addition to his holdings in Texas, and ran 20,000 cattle under the 6666 brand.

In 1905, in return for Roosevelt’s assistance, Burnett helped organize a wolf hunt for the president. During the president’s visit, Roosevelt influenced the changing of the name of Nesterville, on the Four Sixes property in Wichita County, to Burkburnett. By 1910, Burnett discontinued personal direction of his ranch. He leased the Four Sixes to his eldest son, Tom, so that he could concentrate his attention on his other businesses – banking and oil. Just over 10 years later in 1921, Burnett struck oil on his land near Burkburnett, dramatically increasing his wealth.

At the time of his death in 1922, his fortune was estimated at around $6 million. The ranch was inherited by his granddaughter, Anne Valliant Burnett Tandy, who ran the Four Sixes Ranch until 1980, when Burk Burnett’s great-granddaughter, Anne W. Marion, took the reins. Anne, the fourth-generation owner of 6666 Ranch, passed away in early 2020 and the property was put up for sale. Sheridan’s group signed a contract for the property all the way back in December 2020, then closed in March of this year. It’s the first time in more than 150 years the land has changed hands.  

Sheridan featured 6666 Ranch in Season 4 of the Paramount series “Yellowstone.” The ranch will play a starring role in a new show from Sheridan, simply called “6666,” which is described as exploring the history of the legendary property that was “founded when Comanches still ruled West Texas.” The show hasn’t been given a release date but it will air on Paramount Network. Sheridan is actually a Texas native, growing up on a ranch in Cranfills Gap. He has some big shoes to fill now at 6666! (Sources: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Fort Worth Business Press, Wichita County Historical Commission)

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