The Texas Jack Association is a non-profit organization that commemorates John B. “Texas Jack” Omohundro; cowboy, prairie scout, western hunting guide, Wild West showman, and partner of W. F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and James B. “Wild Bill” Hickok.
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Who Is Texas Jack?
Texas Jack is John Baker Omohundro—soldier, Texas cowboy, frontier scout for the Army, actor, and star.
Born in Virginia in 1846, he served as a headquarters courier during the Civil War before joining JEB Stuart's cavalry as a scout. After the war he became a cowboy, riding the Chisolm and Goodnight-Loving trails out of Texas to Kansas, California, Nebraska, and across Indian territory. On a cattle drive to meat-hungry & drought-stricken Tennessee, a man referred to the handsome cowboy as "Texas Jack," and the name stuck.
Between 1868 and 1869, Jack met first James B. "Wild Bill" Hickok in Hays City, Kansas, and then William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody at Fort McPherson, near North Platte, Nebraska. Omohundro and Cody became first hunting partners and later scouting partners. In 1872 they joined dime novelist Ned Buntline in Chicago for what scholars consider one of the very first western plays. Their costar was Italian ballerina Giuseppina Morlacchi, a La Scala trained dancer and one of the biggest stage stars in the world.
Relatively unknown outside of Nebraska and the surrounding prairie until that point, a combination of dime novels fictionalizing their lives and a stage play making them instant stars brought Texas Jack and Buffalo Bill immediate fame. Within months of their theatrical debut, they were among the most famous men in America.
Texas Jack introduced the world to the cowboy, both through his demonstration of lasso skills on stage and by his writings about his life featured in the popular Spirit of the Times magazine. He quickly married Mademoiselle Morlacchi, his beautiful costar, and the couple was endlessly devoted to one another. Jack left
his wife only long enough to lead aristocrats on yearly jaunts across the Wind River, Sweetwater, and Big Horn Mountain ranges and into the depths of the uncharted wilderness of the newly established Yellowstone Park.
Among those that Texas Jack lead on these weeks-long hunts were The Earl of Dunraven, Lord Birmingham & Captain Bailey, Sir John Rae Reid, and Count Otto Franc von Leichtenstein, who would eventually establish a ranch near Meeteetsee, Wyoming.
Indeed, every one of Jack's guests would come to share his love for the West, and to play a part in its history.
Texas Jack died at the young age of 33 in the Colorado silver boomtown of Leadville. On his death, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, at that time the most widely read paper in the world, said that "More refined than Wild Bill, more modest in asserting himself than Buffalo Bill, he stood on a plane above both." Jack's death at such a young age robbed him of the lasting fame that his friends and costars Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody achieved.
Today, the Texas Jack Association strives to remind the public about this great man, his life, and his lasting legacy in the story of the American West.
Because of the efforts of the Texas Jack Association and some of its members, John B. Omohundro was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City on March 18, 1994. In the company of men like John Wayne, James Stewart, Ronald Reagan, and Clint Eastwood, Texas Jack Omohundro remains the earliest born man and first stage actor to receive this honor.