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  • Matthew Kerns

A Texas Jack Reader

In researching Texas Jack, I've read some of the most thorough research, the most thoughtful historical perspectives, and the finest-crafted prose on western history ever written. Much of this comes from a personal drive to understand even the tertiary information related to Jack and the people in his life, from the obvious like his wife Giuseppina Morlacchi and his partners Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok and Ned Buntline, to more obscure characters like Donald McKay, Ena Palmer, and Doc Carver. This is an attempt to list as many of the references I've come across in pursuit of Texas Jack:

Buckskin & Satin by Herschel C. Logan - The original Texas Jack biography and (until now) the best source of information on J. B. Omohundro. (available to read for free at: https://archive.org/details/buckskinandstain007287mbp)

The Great Divide: Travels In The Upper Yellowstone In The Summer of 1874 by The Earl of Dunraven - First-hand documentation of the Earl's trip to Yellowstone Park in 1874 with Texas Jack. (https://archive.org/details/greatdividetrave00dunr)


The Life of Hon. William F. Cody Known As Buffalo Bill The Famous Hunter, Scout and Guide - Cody's 1879 autobiography.


Buffalo Bill's America by Louis Warren - Extensively researched biography of William F. Cody and his impact on creating and shaping views on the American West.


Buffalo Bill on Stage by Sandra K. Sagala - THE great resource for Buffalo Bill's stage years, this is well researched and well written. Appendix Two provides an exhaustive list of where Cody and Omohundro played and when, and multiple dogears in my copy of this book attest to how often I referred back to it.

The Notorious Life of Ned Buntline by Julia Bricklin - Like all of Julia's books, this one is enjoyable and thorough and plain fun to read. Just as Louis Warren's Buffalo Bill's America may be considered the modern equivalent of Don Russell's The Lives and Legends of Buffalo Bill, this modernizes and adds context and detail to Jay Monaghan's The Great Rascal.

They Called Him Wild Bill by Joseph G. Rosa - Rosa dedicated a career to the pursuit of Wild Bill, and this exhaustive tome is the pinnacle of that pursuit. Less hagiographic than most of the western biographies that came before, Rosa nevertheless includes nearly every scrap of information and retold tale of Hickok that he could uncover.


Pioneers of Promotion by Joe Dobrow - Insight behind the marketing genius that was Texas Jack's friend, manager, and costar "Arizona" John M. Burke. Telling Burke's story and explaining the methods and strategies he invented to promote Buffalo Bill's Wild West, Dobrow weaves a tapesty that explains why the decisions Burke made as early as the 1870s ripple into our commercial-filled lives today.


The Modoc War by Robert Aquinas McNally - This conflict between Modoc tribesmen under Captain Jack and Federal troops in California provides the context behind Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack's first tour, and provides background on Donald McKay, the Warm Springs scout who was involved with the conflict and later toured with Texas Jack.


Doc Carver: Spirit Gun of the West by Raymond Thorpe - Thorpe seemingly believed every lie that Doc Carver told him, but knowing that, it is interesting to see what Carver was saying about Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack, who joined Carver for a series of shooting exhibitions in 1878.


Medicine Creek Journals : Ena and the Plainsmen by D. Jean Smith - Provides excerpts from the journals of Ena Raymonde Palmer, who moved to Nebraska and met Texas Jack, Buffalo Bill, and Doc Carver in the early 1870s. Invaluable in understanding the relationship between Palmer and Omohundro.


Memories of Buffalo Bill by Louisa Frederici Cody - Louisa Cody's memories of the ealry tours of Texas Jack and her husband, along with stories about their lives in Nebraska prior to becoming theatre stars, adds much color to our understanding of the relationship between the brother scouts.


The Omohundro Genealogical Record by Malvern Hill Omohundro - invaluable documentary evidence of the Omohundro family, and specifically J. B. Omohundro, provided by his half brother Malvern.


Historical and Biographical Record of the Cattle Industry and the Cattlemen of Texas and Adjacent Territory by James Cox - Important context about Texas, the cattle industry, and Jack Omohundro place in it, compiled in 1895.


Life of the Marlows by William Rathmell - the inspiration for the John Wayne movie The Sons of Katie Elder, this includes information about Texas Jack serving as a law enforcement officer, possibly deputized by Hickok in pursuit of horse and cattle thieves.


Notes on Sport and Travel by George Henry Kingsley - a first-hand account of George Kinglsey, who accompanied Texas Jack and the Earl of Dunraven both on a hunting expedition in Nebraska, and a later trip into Yellowstone National Park.


Building a New Empire by Nathaniel Ayers - This reminiscence of frontier life includes information about Texas Jack and his earliest movements after arriving in Nebraska from Texas.



Custer, Cody, and Grand Duke Alexis: Historical Archaeology of the Royal Buffalo Hunt by Douglas D. Scott, Peter Bleed, and Stephen Damm - Context and information about Alexis' 1872 buffalo hunt including Omohundro and Cody.


My Life on the Frontier by Miguel Antonio Otero - Further information about Jack's involvement in the Alexis buffalo hunt.


Barnum: America’s greatest showman by Philip B. Kunhardt Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III, and Peter W. Kunhardt - Background on Barnum's Buffalo Hunt, which proceeded the Niagara Falls hunt.



The Life of John Wesley Hardin by John Wesley Hardin - information on Kansas during the time Hardin and Hickok were in Abilene.


The Great Rascal by Jay Monaghan - Prior to Julia Bricklin's The Notorious Life of Ned Buntline, this was the best bio of E . Z. C. Judson.


The Lives and Legends of Buffalo Bill by Don Russell - A lot of information, but outdated and prone to hero-worship, this tome was the best biography of Buffalo Bill until writers like Louis Warren and Joy S. Kasson began to reexamine Cody in the 21st century.


Ballet or Ballyhoo: American Careers Of Rita Sangalli, Giuseppina Morlacchi And Maria Bonfanti by Barker, Barbara Mackin Barker - An exploration of the lives, careers, and impacts of three Italian ballerinas, providing excellent descriptions of Giuseppina Morlacchi, her place in the world of dance, and her wide-ranging fame.


John Wayne’s America: the politics of celebrity by Garry Wills - the impacts of the portrayal of cowboys on American culture.


This Way To The Big Show: The Life of Dexter Fellows by Dexter Fellows and Andrew A. Freeman - insight into Burke, and his relationship with Giuseppina Morlacchi.


Last of the Great Scouts by Helen Cody Wetmore - Book about Buffalo Bill by his sister.


Buffalo Bill's Wild West by Joy S. Kasson - a scholarly and serious Cody biography, exploring not just his life but his place in popular culture.


The Wonders of Geyser Land by Frank D. Carpenter - Carpenter's story of his trip into Yellowstone in 1877, and the subsequent skirmish he and his two sisters experiences as Nez Perce moved through the Park, shooting his brother-in-law.


Encounters In Yellowstone: The Nez Perce Summer fo 1877 by M. Mark Miller - holistic view of the above mentioned period. I disagreed with Miller's assessment of Jack's actions in the Park, but not with his history, which is accurate, or his writing, which is really quite good.



A novelization of the Pawnee buffalo hunt of 1873, the year after their hunt with Texas Jack. Shawn Farritor uses real history and historical characters combined with masterful storytelling to illuminate one of the great tragedies of American history. Through his protagonist (John Williamson), the reader is given insight into the time and place, as well as the specific tensions, that beset the Pawnee between 1869 and 1874. The tension is palpable, and the author portrays the Pawnee people as individuals struggling both with their ancestral animosity with their Sioux foes, but also with their place in Nebraska as the influx of white settlers threatens their way of life. As individuals, the Pawnee are not characterized as either savage or noble, but as humans both conflicted and in conflict. The protagonist is not a part of the tribe, but his sympathies for their plight, as well as his complicated relationships with tribal members, set him apart, both figuratively and literally, from other members of his own community.


End of Pawnee Starlight captures a moment in history on the border of an expanding nation on the one hand and a contracting one on the other. It tells about the end of the Pawnee people in Nebraska and the settling of that state by white settlers, and a conflict between Pawnee and Sioux that ultimately set the stage for the end of a way of life for both people. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.



Cattle Kingdom by Christopher Knowlton is the story not just of cowboys and cattle, but of the economic boom, bubble, and bust of the cattle industry in America during the 1880s. This isn't a story about the trail driving cowboys like Texas Jack, or the iconic cowboys of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. This is a tale the combines the old wealth of Europe, Ivy League-educated young men, and aristocrats traveling west to strike it big, not in gold but in beef.


Though Texas Jack isn't a part of this story, the men here are kind of spiritual successors. Some of the money behind this massive economic moment came from men Jack brought to the west: the Earl of Dunraven, Sir John Rae Reid, and Count Otto Franc von Leichtenstein.



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