Buffalo Bill & Texas Jack

Three years after his best friend Texas Jack's death in 1880, Buffalo Bill was feeling nostalgic. He had just launched the Wild West Show, a spectacular outdoor version of the stage plays he began with Jack back in 1872. Between shows, as the cast and crew traveled by train to cities and towns across America, Cody wrote a story about his friend's time as a Texas cowboy after the Civil War. The story was one of the first to feature a cowboy hero, and shows both the warm affection and admiration Cody held for his old friend and partner on stage and trail Texas Jack.


Buffalo Bill Cody and Texas Jack Omohundro

Here is Cody's introduction of Texas Jack in his novel, Texas Jack, the Prairie Rattler:


The Texan was also well mounted upon a clay-bank horse, with a long silver mane and tail, and every indication of speed and bottom, though he had a vicious look in his eyes as he glared at the animal ridden by the Mexican.


His saddle and bridle were of elegant workmanship, studded with silver, trimmed with the skins of wild animals, and with a long lariat coiled around the horn.


The rider was J. B. Omohundro —Texas Jack — a man whose life upon the southwest prairies and the northern plains has been one long scene of adventure, and of reality that casts romance in shadow.


A man of superb physique, wiry as an Indian and as untiring, he had a handsome face, full of light-heartedness, as though he looked ever upon the sunny side of life, and yet every feature was stamped with character, and the merry twinkle of his eyes could change in an instant into a deadly light, the smiling, reckless mouth become as firm as adamant.


He was dressed in buckskin leggings, stuck in cavalry boots, the heels of which were armed with massive spurs of solid gold which jingled at every movement of his feet; a velvet jacket, adorned with buttons innumerable, a la Mexican, a gray shirt with a black silk scarf knotted sailor fashion, and a broad-brimmed sombrero, the rim and crown encircled with an embroidered wreath in gold thread, and a large gold five-point star looping it up upon one side.


Certainly, he was a striking-looking man, whether met on the prairie or in the town, and, with the repeating rifle slung at his back, and his belt of arms, a most formidable-looking adversary.



In Buffalo Bill's story and with his Wild West show, he tried to tell the world about the kind of man his cowboy friend Texas Jack had been. In early 1917 — 34 years after he wrote this story, 45 years after he and his friend launched their careers as showmen, and nearly 50 years after they met on the frontier prairie of Nebraska — a train carrying the weak and ailing Buffalo Bill Cody stopped in Leadville, Colorado, on the way back to Denver. Not strong enough to leave his bed, Bill sat up to tell his daughter about the gravemarker he had planted in the town's cemetery, marking the final resting place of his best friend, his first partner, his staunchest ally — Texas Jack.


Four days later, Buffalo Bill was dead. He outlived Jack by almost 37 years, entertaining hundreds of thousands of people and becoming the most famous showman on the planet. But he never stopped telling his friend's story.



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