O. L. Slaton was born November 21, 1867 at Zebula, Georgia and came to Texas in 1877 with his mother and two brothers. They settled on some land near Decatur, Wise County, which his father had purchased on a horseback trip prior to the Civil War. His father died in 1868.
Slaton attended school in and around Decatur, and then at Southwestern University at Georgetown. He briefly worked for a New York surveyor in Pomona, California. Returning to Texas in 1889, he proceeded on to Lebanon Tennessee, to complete a law course. After three years of study, he came back to Texas and settled in Snyder where he spent three years as County Attorney.
In 1902, Slaton moved to Lubbock, opening a real estate office. In 1905, he married Sally Wilkinson daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S. W. Wilkinson, who were early settlers of this area. In 1907, he became active in the administration of the First National Bank, of which he had purchased an interest in earlier. Then in 1908 he was elected president, a position he held for a number of years prior to being named chairman of the board.
In March of 1909, Santa Fe's construction engineers had reached a decision to build a railroad over the route the road now follows. W. T. Cliver was employed to secure the "right-of-way" from Lubbock to Sweetwater. Among the businessmen of Lubbock who dealt with Cliver and the Santa Fe officials were Slaton, H. B. Reid, B. O. McWhorter, J. J. Dillard, and Don Biggers. Slaton was so impressive that the town site established by Santa Fe was named after him.
O. L. Slaton went on to become a leading citizen of Lubbock with a school being named after him. Because of O. L. Slaton's endeavors. the town of Slaton became known as - "A town that Santa Fe built."