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  • Matthew Kerns

Curtain Call

On June 3rd, 1876, Texas Jack Omohundro and Buffalo Bill Cody played their last show together at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Delaware. They had stood together on stage for four years, played hundreds of shows across the country, and become what Bill Cody called "first class stars." The men had parted ways with Ned Buntline, Texas Jack had married costar Giuseppina Morlacchi, and Wild Bill Hickok had joined and left the combination, destined for a fatal encounter at Deadwood.


An advertisement for the final appearance of Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack.

Just over a month earlier, on April 20th, Buffalo Bill's son Kit Carson Cody died, and when Bill returned to the stage, he explained to his friend Texas Jack that he didn't have it in him to keep going as an actor. Texas Jack, who had known the boy since birth, must have understood. The men agreed to dissolve their joint combination, and Buffalo Bill wrote to General Phil Sheridan, offering his services as a scout, determined to return to the life he had known prior to his first appearance on stage with Texas Jack in December of 1872.


Texas Jack made big plans for the Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia, but soon enough would find himself back in the scouting business as well, called into service by General Terry in the wake of General George Armstrong Custer's defeat at the Little Bighorn. As the 1876 campaign wrapped up, Texas Jack was departing the steamboat on the Yellowstone River where he unexpectedly ran into his old friend Buffalo Bill.


Left to right: Buffalo Bill, Ned Buntline, Texas Jack

Cody had killed and scalped a Cheyenne warrior named Heova'ehe or Yellow Hair, and had sent that man's scalp and warbonnet to New York as advertising for a new show he planned, based on his exploits during the Indian Wars. Jack had made his own plans after Cody had expressed that he would never return to the stage, and perhaps he couldn't find a way to reconcile his new partnership with Warm Springs scout Donald McKay and Cody's grisly souvenir. Whatever the reason, the pair parted as friends, but never appeared on stage together again.


Cody would remain in the public eye until his death in 1917, but in the forty years that elapsed between his last show with Texas Jack and his death, no man would ever again stand with Buffalo Bill Cody as equal. They were, Cody would later write of his friend, "Pards of the Plains for Life."

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