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  • Matthew Kerns

Marriage Is What Brings Us Together Today

On August 31, 1873 Texas Jack Omohundro and the Peerless Morlacchi were married in Rochester, New York. The Texas cowboy and the Italian ballerina seem to be the perfect example of opposites attracting. Newspapers across the country framed their story as the joining of the "fair actress" and the "gallant scout," the "courageous Indian fighter" and the "beautiful ballerina," the "graceful dancer" and the "great hunter."

Texas Jack and Morlacchi. This picture recreates a scene from The Scouts of the Prairie. Critics said, "Morlacchi, in her ballet dance before the sleeping Jack, was the finest success of the evening. She moved like a fairy; her executions were, in a word, remarkable."

They must have been quite the striking pair, the tall and lean Omohundro, clad in his wide brimmed Stetson and buckskins and the diminutive velvet-dressed Morlacchi. Newspapers in Lowell, Massachusetts, where Morlacchi owned a home, noted that the couple could often be spotted walking along the canal arm in arm. Interviewers often remarked on the obvious affection shared by the couple. As Jack returned to the East after a long hunting trip with his friend the Earl of Dunraven, a reporter noted that jack "showed us the picture of as sweet and gentle a face as fancy could paint, and very tenderly he said, 'this is my wife.'"

Giuseppina Morlacchi. This famous picture is likely the one Jack carried with him when he was separated from his wife..

The pair met in Chicago in December of 1872, mere days before they were set to star in Ned Buntline's play The Scouts of the Prairie; or, Red Deviltry As It Is! She had been wooed by actors, dancers, businessmen, and robber barons. He had romanced a southern belle whose family had relocated to Nebraska, the beautiful lady who Jack's friend and hunting companion Dr. George Kingsley called "the pale maiden who lives down on the Medicine River, who rides like a chipney, writes poetry by the yard, and shoots pistols as well as Jack himself—and he is the best shot in the territory…" Robber barons and southern belles immediately disappeared from memory, however, from the first moment that the cowboy and the ballerina met. Buffalo Bill's wife Louisa later remembered that Ned Buntline had just introduced his cowboy star to the famous dancer who was to serve as his acting instructor when “Texas Jack put out his hand in a hesitating, wavering way. His usually heavy bass voice cracked and broke. There were more difficulties than ever now, for Jack had fallen in love, at sight…And never did a pupil work harder than Texas Jack from that moment!”

Ned Buntline, Buffalo Bill Cody, Giuseppina Morlacchi, and Texas Jack. This image of The Scouts of the Prairie cast was taken shortly after Jack and Giuseppina met for the first time.

Over the course of that whirlwind tour, Texas Jack and Giuseppina Morlacchi nurtured their shared affection, but soon her previously booked engagements took her away from the show. Ticket sales suffered, as did Jack. As the tour ended without Morlacchi, he and Buffalo Bill headed west, returning to the plains to stalk elk and bison and buffalo. There they met their old friend Wild Bill Hickok, convincing him to join their next dramatic tour. As the summer faded away, Texas Jack Omohundro showed up in Rochester where Morlacchi ballet troupe was performing for three weeks. Newspapers reported that Jack had arrived in town on business of the utmost importance. A day later, on Sunday, August 31st, 1873, John Baker Omohundro and Giuseppina Antonia Morlacchi were married by Father Stewart at Saint Mary's Church.

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church and Rectory in downtown Rochester, New York. Jack and Josephine were married here after Sunday service on August 31, 1873.

Their lives together would prove to be short. Texas Jack died less than seven years later and Morlacchi passed away just shy of thirteen years after their wedding day. But their years together were filled with love and adventure and the kind of romance that rings through the ages: The famous frontiersman and the bewitching ballerina, the cowboy and the dancer, buckskin and satin. Texas Jack and the Peerless Morlacchi.


Buckskin and Satin, by Herschel C. Logan.

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