Oscar R. Slavens, owner and manager of the stockyards at Hutchinson, operated under the name of the Union Stockyards Company, of which he is president, and one of the best-known cattlemen in the entire cattle country, is a native Virginian, born in Pocahontas County, Virginia, now a part of West Virginia. He was born May 25, 1860, the son of John Randolph and Margaret Priscilla (Woodell) Slavens, the former of whom was a son of Jacob G. Slavens, whose father, John Slaven, was of Scotch-Irish descent and settled at Meadowdale, Highland County, Virginia, in 1774, and built the little brick Presbyterian church which still stands and where he is buried. At one time Jacob G. Slavens was the owner of the most extensive plantations and the greatest number of slaves of any man in Virginia. John Randolph Slavens inherited a portion of the great ancestral estate in Pocahontas county and there spent all his life, a prosperous farmer and stock raiser, having several farms in the blue grass country. He died in 1889, in his fifty-ninth year, and his widow survived for ten years, her death occurring in 1898, she being sixty-seven years of age at the time of her death. They were the parents of seven children, of whom the Oscar was the oldest, the others being Guy, who died in Kansas; Josephine, who married Squire L. Brown, who for twenty-one years was clerk of his home county in West Virginia; Alice, who married Hon. L. M. McClinick, an attorney and former member of the West Virginia Legislature, and three sons who died in early youth.
Oscar R. Slavens was reared on the home farm, receiving his schooling in the schools of his home neighborhood, and remained on the home place, very materially assisting in the conduct of the affairs of the same, and for a time, teaching school, until October 26, 1883, at which time he left home and came west. After prosecuting a bit in Nebraska, Iowa and Texas, he located in Ottawa, Kansas, July 9, 1885, and there connected with J. W. L. Slavens Company, of Kansas City, that being the first packing company of Kansas City, then entered the cattle business himself and remained for six years, at the end of which he for six years was successfully engaged in farming, at the same time paying considerable attention to cattle raising. He then determined to enlarge his cattle interests and went into the business on a large scale, in Texas, Colorado and Indian Territory, in partnership with C. W. Gates and W. R. Patterson, at one time having as many as thirty-two thousand head of cattle. In the meantime he moved to Kansas City and resided there three years and then moved to Hutchinson, for during his travels over the cattle country no section carried to Mr. Slavens's heart a stronger appeal than that section comprised in Reno county and no city seemed so desirable as a place of residence as did Hutchinson, therefore in 1899 he moved to Hutchinson and has ever since made his home in that city. In 1902 he bought the Hutchinson stock yards and has ever since owned and operated the same. He also continues extensively engaged in the cattle-breeding business on his large ranch in Colorado, making a specialty of Herefords. There is hardly a town in the whole cattle country where Mr. Slavens is not known and where he has not friends. He has bought cattle all over northern Mexico, western Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas and is one of the best-known cattlemen in the business. Mr. Slavens is a Democrat, but has never taken an active part in political affairs; that is, not as an aspirant for public office, his own extensive affairs having engrossed his attention to the exclusion of other matters.
On November 20, 1888, Oscar R. Slavens was united in marriage to Etta Kuhn, who was born in Youngstown, Ohio, daughter of William Kuhn and wife, and to this union three children have been born, Lillian, born on July 18, 1900 and attended a private school at Lindenwood, a suburb of St. Louis; John Randolph, who died at the age of fourteen months; and Margaret, born on December 9, 1905. The Slavens family lived at 122 Sixth Avenue, East, and were very pleasantly situated. Mr. and Mrs. Slavens were members of the Presbyterian church and took an active part in the various beneficences of the same. Mr. Slavens was a thirty-second degree Mason and a noble of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, as well as a member of the Elks, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and in the affairs of these several organization took a warm interest.
History of Reno County, Kansas, B.F. Bowen & Co., Indianapolis, 1917.