The “critic” of the Spirit of the Times would have found several dime novels of Texas Jack if he had taken the trouble to browse his local newsstands. The first was advertised as A Mate to Buffalo Bill under the title Texas Jack, the White King of the Pawnees authored by Ned Buntline in Street & Smith’s New York Weekly for 24 Mar 1872. Texas Jack, the Prairie Rattler; or, the Queen of the Wild Riders by “Buffalo Bill Cody” appeared in Beadle’s Weekly 18 Aug 1883. “Buffalo Bill” was also author of “The Phantom Spy” of 1876 which was possibly penned by Colonel Prentiss Ingraham although Don Russell believed that Buffalo Bill may have indeed been the author of this and a handful of other dime novels (Lives and Legends of Buffalo Bill 1979). Ingraham is known to have authored most of the Buffalo Bill stories in Beadle’s Weekly.
|Buntline, Cody, Morlacchi, Omohundro|
Jack settled into the occupation of cattle-herder, guarding against Indian horse-thieves on the Texas pan-handle and made several cattle drives to Abilene. At the start of the Civil War he served as chief of scouts under Confederate Colonel J. B. Stuart. Post-war he became a guide working the ground between the Colorado and Rio Grande rivers. By 1872 he was working as a scout for General Sheridan and in charge of 400 Pawnees engaging the Cheyenne, which was where he encountered fellow scout Buffalo Bill. He also acted as a dispatch rider for the New York Herald.
Texas Jack was still performing in “The Trapper’s Daughter” 27 Dec 1879 then moved to Leadville and died there of pneumonia, 28 Jun 1880. One obituary said he “would be buried with military honors”.
“They’ll all be swept away, except for the Cherokees. That tribe intermarries with the whites, gets civilized, and forms the finest race of men and women in the world.”
He was not so sanguine about the prospects for the plains Indians, who, he imagined, would be extinct in a hundred years.
“In this same dreary, lonely cemetery, in a retired corner, among solemn pines, I found the neglected grave of Texas Jack. A simple pine slab painted white marks the spot and tells us that the place is
Sacred to the Memory
(J. B. Omohundro)
Died Jun 28th, 1880. Aged 39 years.
On the reverse side are two men’s hands emerging from painfully apparent shirt cuffs. These hands point stiffly upward to the legend, “Rest In Peace.”
Poor Texas Jack! His former headstone, which my driver and I discovered in a heap of rubbish near by was more in keeping with his character. It bore a horse’s head and a brace of pistols crossed. “Nice feller,” said my driver, with a sigh. “He was dyin’ when I come to Leadville. There wasn’t a squarer, nicer, sure enough feller than Omohundro.”
“I knew him,” I said.
My driver fell back a step or two and looked at me with awe. “No. Did you though? Shake.”
And we shook hands over Texas Jack’s lowly deserted grave.”
*Thanks to Joe Rainone and E. M. Sanchez-Saavedra for images.