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Pleasure Hill

Texas Jack's childhood haunts are up for sale.

John Baker Omohundro was born on July 27, 1846, at his family home, called "Pleasure Hill," in Palmyra, Virginia. The home was a stately manor situated on his father's farm on the banks of Cunningham Creek just west of its junction with the Rivanna River. Jack's father, John Burwell Omohundro, and his wife Catherine Baker Omohundro purchased the home just a year earlier. Jack was the fourth child of John and Catherine's twelve children, but the first to be born at Pleasure Hill. Malvern Hill Omohundro, Jack's half-brother by John's second wife Margaret Shores, was also born at the house, and wrote about growing up there, playing in the same creek his big brother Texas Jack.

"In this house I was born and raised. Up and down this Cunningham Creek I spent many of my young days hunting and fishing (as did my big brother "Texas Jack"). In this old mansion I sat by the bright fireside many a night and listened to my father and his many guests talk about many different things, but especially about the Omohundro family, their connections and doings, and so on; and this is at least one of the reasons I learned to love my family so well."

The house that Texas Jack and his brothers and sisters grew up in was sold in the decades following the Civil War. In 1902 the 280-acre estate was purchased by Henry Brougham Appleyard. Three years later, on December 5, 1905, Pleasure Hill burned to the ground.

From the December 7, 1905 edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Omohundro Mansion Burned to the Ground

Palmyra, VA, December 6 - One of the old landmarks of Fluvanna, the homestead of that fine old Virginia gentleman John B. Omohundro, was burned to the ground yesterday.

The place passed out of the hands of the Omohundros some years ago and is at present owned by Mr. Henry Appleyard, who recently came to the county from Illinois. Before the war it was a fine old estate, situated on Cunningham Creek, which empties into the Rivanna just below Palmyra, its fertile lowlands and rolling hills were always in fine condition, and it was known far and wide for its old-time Virginia hospitality.

Open-handed, generous to a fault, fond of high living, Mr. Omohundro found himself after the war utterly unable to adapt himself to the new condition of things, and as the old place had to be abandoned and his large family of boys and girls scattered to seek what fortune had in store.

All of them have succeeded in life and are remembered in their native county as a family of sterling worth and exceeding beauty of person.

Mr. and Mrs. Omohundro's two girls and six boys were all remarkably handsome people and possessed of strikingly affable and lovable manners.

One of the sons, John Jr., was the famous "Texas Jack," who won reputation with "Buffalo Bill," and was for many years identified with the "Wild West Show."

Mr. Appleyard carried a small insurance on the house.

Richmond Times Dispatch, December 7, 1905.

Pleasure Hill has recently come up for sale, 260 acres on Cunningham Creek in Palmyra, west of James Madison Highway and north of Haden Martin Road. The property listing describes the land this way:

The Webb Tract (Pleasure Hill) is located off Haden Martin Road (Route 640) in Palmyra, VA with access by deeded right-of-way. Approximately 21 miles southwest from Charlottesville, VA. Property lays rolling to steep with 1.4 miles of frontage on Cunningham Creek making this a terrific recreational tract. This tract has access to power making it a possible home site on this stunningly beautiful historical property. This historical property belonged to the late John Burwell Omohundro’s, “Pleasure Hill”, which contains the grave of his first wife and five of their eleven children. Their famous son, John Baker (“Texas Jack”) Omohundro (1846-1880). After serving in the Civil War, “Texas Jack” went west to Texas, became a cowboy, later a U.S. Government scout, a hunting guide in the Yellowstone area for notables such as the Earl of Dunraven and in 1872 with his good friend William F. (“Buffalo Bill”) Cody started the first wild west shows in America.

Timber consists of:

69 acres of 1925 bottomland mixed hardwood

51.15 acres of 1930 upland mixed hardwood

79.38 acres of 2018 upland cutover

61.01 acres of 2017 upland cutover

Below is a slideshow of the property as it exists now.

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