About “Texas Jack” Omohundro

Texas Jack Omohundro was born July 27, 1846 at Palmyra, Fluvanna County, Virginia. At the young age of 17, he enlisted in Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, serving under Major General J.E.B. Stuart’s 5th Cavalry Corps. After the war, John went to Texas and spent the next three year becoming an experienced cowboy. It was in 1866 that he acquired his sobriquet of “Texas Jack” on a cattle drive to Tennessee. The name stuck for the remainder of his life. By the summer of 1869, Omohundro was at Fort Hays, Kansas, where he met “California Joe” Milner, who introduced the young cowboy to Wild Bill Hickok, then the acting sheriff of Ellis County.

Later in the year, Jack met Buffalo Bill Cody who was scouting for the 5th U.S. Cavalry at Fort McPherson, Nebraska. Cody was instrumental in getting Jack hired on as a “trail agent and scout” for the 5th. They would become the best of friends for many years thereafter. At the hunt with the Grand Duke Alexis, Texas Jack described the buffalo hunt for the Spirit of The Times newspaper in March of 1877: “Talk of tornadoes, whirlwinds, avalanches, waterspouts, and prairie fires…boil them all together, mix well, and serve on one plate…and you might have a limited idea of the charge of this ‘light brigade’…” While appearing on the stage in Chicago in 1872 with Buffalo Bill’s “Scouts of the Prairie”, Jack first met Josephine Morlacchi, a dancer and an actress from Italy. Josephine Morlacchi is reputed to have introduced the highly popular “can-can” dance to American audiences. At that time, Morlacchi was playing the part of Dove Eye in Scouts of the Prairie, and during the months the company was on the road, the two were often seen together strolling down the street, or dining together before or after the show. They were married on Sept. 1, 1873.

Texas Jack never obtained the lasting immortality that his good friends would achieve. Just one month short of his 34th birthday, Omohundro unexpectedly contracted pneumonia and died on June 28, 1880 in Leadville, Colorado. He died while accompanying his wife on a stage show tour. She never recovered from his death, and was never to be seen on the stage again.

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