Hugh “Hackberry Slim” Johnson Jr. was born in 1888 and resided in Belton. He was one of the first cowboys to put together a Buffalo Rodeo, which included a buffalo stampede, buffalo chariot races and even Junior Buffalo events where children could ride on baby buffaloes.
Johnson became to be known as “Hackberry Slim” as a teenager, when an accident resulted in the amputation of one of his legs. Johnson used a limb from a hackberry tree to carve himself a prosthetic leg; he loved it when people began to call him by the nickname thereafter always introducing himself as Hackberry Slim. Johnson was known for being quite a storyteller.
“Now that leg, that was to my advantage sometimes. Pecos Pete taught me this trick, see. When I was about to ride a bronc, I’d loosen that leg. I’d start yellin’ about halfway through the ride. Yelin’ that I was gettin’ bucked to pieces. Strong men would scream and women would faint. The tent’d would be half empty by the time I chambered down”, stated Johnson.
In 1979 when Johnson was 91, he played a bit part In Willie Nelson’s classic movie Honeysuckle Rose. After the filming Nelson performed at a party for the cast. At one point the band dedicated a song to Johnson, the audience applauded, and Johnson grabbed a young lady by the hand and danced animatedly. He then went back to his table, laid his head down and died.