If walls could speak, what might this old barn tell? It was built by one of the most influential and prosperous ranchers in Texas and eventually housed expensive horses with fine bloodlines, animals admired by some of the wealthiest men and women in the West. A landmark in Guthrie, Texas, for many years, the 6666 Barn stood near the imposing home Samuel Burk Burnett built in 1917 to be both "the finest ranch house in West Texas" and the headquarters of his ranching empire.
The history of the Four Sixes began with Burnett, who before the age of 20 purchased a herd of cattle wearing the 6666 brand. Burnett recorded the brand in 1875 in Wichita County, Texas, on the Kiowa-Comanche reservation in 1881 and in other counties in years following.
The origin of the 6666 brand is unknown, but it had nothing to do with a card game and a winning hand of sixes, as legend suggests.
The 6666 is prominently displayed on the 3,512-square-foot barn, now a focal point at the NRHC. A single L appears on the east gable of the barn. The L was used by Burk Burnett's father-in-law, M.B. Loyd, a prominent Fort Worth banker, as his horse brand. Burnett acquired it from Loyd to mark the famous Burnett Quarter Horses, which were once stabled in the red barn.
Brought to the NRHC in 1981, the barn appears much as it did when in use at the Four Sixes headquarters. The interior was changed extensively, however, at the request of Anne W. Marion, who gave the barn as a memorial to her great-grandfather Burk Burnett, her grandfather Tom Burnett and her mother Anne Burnett Tandy. She accompanied the gift with funds to restore the barn for use during special events and education programs.
Additional improvements to the barn were made possible in 2010 through the support of Mrs. Marion. Those improvements make the barn a popular destination for corporate events to volunteer training.
The Four Sixes Ranch represents both the present and the past, largely due to the foresight of Burk Burnett and the management and determination of his descendants, who value their heritage and the prominent ranch's place in the history of the American West.
More history: One of Burk Burnett's close friends was Comanche Chief Quanah Parker, son of white captive Cynthia Ann Parker and her husband Peta Nocona.
When severe droughts withered grazing lands in Texas, Quanah allowed Burnett and other ranchers to lease Indian lands in Oklahoma. Burnett included Quanah in wolf hunts with his friends, among them President Theodore Roosevelt.
The rancher learned Comanche ways and passed a love of the land and his friendship with the Indians to his own family. Of Quanah's white acquaintances, he counted Burnett as his favorite. He once said, "I got one good friend, Burk Burnett, he big-hearted, rich cowman. Help my people good deal. You see big man hold tight to money, afraid to die. Burnett helped anybody."
The historically important Burk Burnett collection of Quanah Parker items, given to the rancher by Quanah and members of his family, was donated to the NRHC by Burnett's granddaughter and great-granddaughter.