Henry Clay Slack was born December 19, 1868 in Cotton Valley, Louisiana. After his father died, the family moved from Louisiana to Goldthwaite; it was from there that Slack left home and headed west to make his own life.
Before he came to be known affectionately and respectfully to Reeves County residents as “Uncle Henry”, he became the youngest contestant in the World’s First Rodeo, and he founded a pioneer family that still has its roots in Pecos today. Henry Clay Slack was just a youngster making his way in the world as a cowboy.
In 1883, not long after you Henry went to work for the “W” Ranch in the area. Area cowboys decided to have some “cowboy contests” on the Fourth of July, in downtown Pecos. It would be a way to have fun and settle the friendly rivalry between the ranch hands. Slack was the youngest cowboy to take part in the event held near the old county courthouse. The contests were so successful that it was decided to make them an annual event.
Slack married Linda Maxey. After his marriage he opened a butcher shop. Then, with a partner, he opened two saloons. Slack became an inspector for the Southwestern Cattlemen’s Association until his retirement.
He came to be known as “Uncle Henry”. His unofficial office in his final years was the lobby of the Brandon Hotel where he would show up in immaculate western attire, highly polished boots and Stetson hat. Several years before his death, he rode a the head of the parade opening the annual July event. In 1940 the West of the Pecos Rodeo was dedicated to him. He passed away February 29, 1944.
He and Linney had three children: Henry Clay, Jr., Travis Lee and Evelyn and a grandson, Richard Clay (Dick) Slack, who lives in Pecos with his wife Charlotte, and three great grandchildren and seven great, great grandchildren.