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Texas Jack Jr. in Australia

When Texas Jack Junior arrived in Australia in 1890, the sight of an American cowboy in Sydney amused the Australian public to no end. Not long after he arrived in Sydney, Junior was interviewed by an Aussie reporter, who very quickly realized the utility of having an expert with the lariat on hand for Australia's parliamentary proceedings. Later versions of Junior's poem, shared in part here, were different. Also of interest is that in this version of the story, he says that he was abducted by the "Dog" tribe, possibly referring to Hotamétaneo'o, Cheyenne Dog Soldiers or Dog Men, and he claims that Texas Jack not only rescued him, but that he also adopted him.

From The Australian Star, Saturday Evening, March 8, 1890.

“Texas Jack Junior”

A Wild Cowboy

Just from the West

He Challenges any Man in Australia—Buckjumping in any Style—The Lad with the Lasso—Reared with the Indians—Sombrero and Mocassins—A Crack Shot—His Romantic Story

You will be surprised to know that there is in this city a real and particularly live cowboy, one of the real blood from the “trail country,” Texas. He came by the Mariposa, did “Texas Jack, Junior,” unheralded and unsung, but he is here just the same, and, what is more, he is here on business. In the course of the meanderings of our dramatic man among the show managers, he was the first to find him, and during a chat we learned that “T.J. Junior” was the leading member of the famous “Texas Rangers,” who showed all through London and the provinces in opposition to Col. Cody’s Buffalo Bill crew.

He is about the likeliest looking young fellow you could wish to meet, having a clean-looking bronze skin, aquiline nose, and narrow, level, deep-set grey eyes, heavily browed. His teeth are the perfection of evenness and whiteness, and his rich clustering locks are crowned by a sombrero, graceful tipped as only the men of his class can place it. Moreover, he is thick in the neck and set like a model, and when you size him up you find a most picturesque individual, suggestive of trappers and scouts made dear to us by Fenimore Cooper and other writers of his class.

“Texas Jack, Jun.” was taken, when but an infant, prisoner by the “Dog” tribe of Indians, and after years of residence with them the famous “Texas Jack,” cowpuncher and scout, rescued and adopted him. He is here to show. That is to say, he challenges any man in this wide continent to show him a horse he can’t ride, and to show him a mark within the range of his gun he can’t hit. He will show you how they catch with the lariat the wild moke of the plains; in fact, he is here to give a “Wild West” solo that will make his audience sit bolt upright in wonder. Mr. A.L. Cunard, of Soloman’s Museum fame, has got him, and he will before long show him in some public place. Those of you who think you can find a “bucker” to beat him will kindly trot them out.

Texas Jack is also a bit of a poet, and although he does not aspire to be a Joaquin Miller, he nevertheless compares favorably, in his higher flights of poetic ecstasy, with our own Parkes. Here, for instance, is a slab from a little piece entitled “History of Texas Jack,” written by himself:—

My home is in the saddle,

Upon a pony’s back,

I am a roving Cow-boy

And they call me Texas Jack;

They say I am an orphan,

And my name I never knew;

But I’ve often heard the story,

That now I’ll tell to you

In eighteen hundred and sixty-eight,

A little emigrant band

Was massacred by Indians,

Bound West by overland

And then Jack goes on to tell how the emigrant party were massacred, and how he was rescued by a man who fought the thieving Indians. After which he soars again:—

I am a roving Cow-boy,

I’ve worked upon the trail,

I’ve shot the shaggy buffalo

And heard the coyote’s wail;

I have slept upon my saddle.

And covered with the moon;

And I expect to keep it up

Until I meet my doom.

The cowboy’s name is butchered

By the papers in the East

And while he’s in the city

He is treated like a beast;

But in his native country

His name is ever dear

And you bet he’s always welcomed

By the Western pioneer.

After that, the author of the froggie-doggie-loggie outburst ought to challenge the writer to a poetic match for any sum in any style of meter or verse. Anyhow, Jack:—

The “Jaynial” didn’t greet you

To this, our “Southern” home

But Parkes, he’ll try to beat you

At firing off a pome.

Jack, being an expert at lasso-throwing, and being, upon his own word, able to yank a blue bottle off a fat man’s head at 50 yards, it has occurred to us that his skill in this direction might be turned to very excellent and serviceable account amongst the “vagshunters” of the police force. Think what an improvement it would be if Detective O’Sullivan were able to stand off 100 yards, arrest his man, and tow him off to the “jug.” There would be no assaults on the police, the features of the force would never be disarranged, and the ice-cream pants would, under the most trying circumstances, preserve their pristine whiteness and elegance. With a little instruction from our Texan visitor, Constable “346 Q” would, on espying a “wanted,” whirl his lasso twice round his head, let go, and hook his prisoner around the jugular. Now and again he would catch the wrong man, or knock a horse down, or smash a window, or flick his own eye out, but they would be difficulties of a trifling moment compared to the ease, elegance, and comfort with which a “loaded” and refractory tough would be jerked to gaol—when he was caught. It is understood that negotiations are to be opened up at once with the untutored bull-puncher of the Sierras for imparting such instruction. So don’t be alarmed if in a day or so you should be yanked off the top of a ‘bus by the neck, flopped into a dirt-box, and dragged around the street. Your course, under those conditions, is to disengage yourself from the lasso, apologize to the policeman for being the wrong man, and then hunt around for Texas Jack with a hand-saw, cook him, and eat him. Also, the private citizen will be able to take lessons in the use of the lasso. The advantage likely to result from this accomplishment amongst theater-goers and audiences at amateur shows are obvious, and with confidence, we leave it to the intelligent reader to appreciate the boon and the blessing that would result. We have only to add that the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Assembly will be thoroughly instructed in the use of this most valuable arrangement to win the heartfelt thanks of every well-conducted member of the House. Imagine a heated debate in the Assembly, the member from Bungdoodle is noisy, he has got a load and a grievance, and trouble is imminent. Mr. Speaker has already named him, amidst the wildest excitement, but there apart, cool and collected, sits Mr. Harnett, deliberately coiling up the lasso ready for us. The uproar is terrific. Mr. Speaker seizes a speaking-trumpet and roars, “Seargent-at-Arms! Let her go!” Wish! The cowhide cleaves the heated atmosphere of the chamber, a moment’s suspense, and the chosen of Bungdoodle flies through the air, hits against the wall, and flops upon the floor. The Sergeant’s task is easy now. Striding from the chamber, he tows Bungdoodle’s fractured orator into an anteroom, and then returns, coiling as he goes, and ready for another haul. This time it is the member for Jackass Flat who defies the Chair. The order is given again to fire. Whish! She flies again, but something has gone wrong with the works, and to the horror of the House, Mr. Speaker is jerked out of the chair, “laid upon the table,” and dragged through piles of votes and proceedings, electric lights and bottles, onto the carpet. A little mistake like this is not improbable, but after two or three Speakers have been choked, some thousands of pounds worth of property spoiled, and eight sergeants handed, the new arrangement will no doubt work without a single hitch—except the one in the lasso.

Men like Texas Jack are wanted here.

A week and a half after reading about Texas Jack Junior in their papers, the citizens of Sydney saw advertisements, informing them that they could catch the cowboy in action at "Johnny Solomon's Royal Museum and Place of Amusement," a P.T. Barnum-esque attraction on Sydney's George Street. Texas Jack Junior opened at Solomon's on March 22, 1890, and demonstrated his skills with his pistol and rifle, as well as his ability to break any bucking bronco brought to the show.

A review from March 26, 1890, in the Referee newspaper says, "Solomon's Royal Museum is still finding considerable favor with the public, and the principal attraction for the last few days has been Texas Jack, Jun., a handsome young cowboy from the Wild West, who has daily demonstrated his ability to hand his six-shooter, etc. Jack appears fully accoutred in the Western style, with bowie and Colt, and sightseers should certainly pay the Museum a visit, for in addition to the representative of the Western plains, there are any amount of novelties which will well repay anyone who ventures into the Museum."

And on March 29, 1890, the final day of Junior's run of performances at the Royal Museum, a satirical poem by Henry Lawson, writing under the pseudonym Joe Swallow, in response to the spectacle of Texas Jack Junior appeared in the Bulletin.

Henry Archibald Hertzberg Lawson, Australian writer and bush poet.

Texas Jack, you are amusin'. By Lord Harry, how I laughed

When I seen yer rig and saddle with its bulwarks fore-and-aft;

Holy smoke! In such a saddle how the dickens can yer fall?

Why, I seen a gal ride bareback with no bridle on at all!

Gosh! so-help-me! strike-me-balmy! if a bit o' scenery

Like ter you in all yer rig-out on the earth I ever see!

How I'd like ter see a bushman use yer fixins, Texas Jack;

On the remnant of a saddle he can ride to hell and back.

Why, I heerd a mother screamin' when her kid went tossin' by

Ridin' bareback on a bucker that had murder in his eye.

What? yer come to learn the natives how to squat on horse's back!

Learn the cornstalk ridin'! Blazes! — w'at yer giv'n'us, Texas Jack?

Learn the cornstalk — what the flamin', jumptup! where's my country gone?

Why, the cornstalk's mother often rides the day afore he's born!

You may talk about your ridin' in the city, bold an' free,

Talk o' ridin' in the city, Texas Jack, but where'd yer be

When the stock horse snorts an' bunches all 'is quarters in a hump,

And the saddle climbs a sapling, an' the horse-shoes split a stump?

No, before yer teach the native you must ride without a fall

Up a gum or down a gully nigh as steep as any wall —

You must swim the roarin' Darlin' when the flood is at its height

Bearin' down the stock an' stations to the great Australian Bight.

You can't count the bulls an' bisons that yer copped with your lassoo —

But a stout old myall bullock p'raps 'ud learn yer somethin' new;

Yer'd better make yer will an' leave yer papers neat an' trim

Before yer make arrangements for the lassooin' of him;

Ere you 'n' yer horse is catsmeat, fittin' fate for sich galoots,

And yer saddle's turned to laces like we put in blucher boots.

And yer say yer death on Injins! We've got somethin'in yer line —

If yer think your fitin's ekal to the likes of Tommy Ryan.

Take yer karkass up to Queensland where the allygators chew

And the carpet-snake is handy with his tail for a lassoo;

Ride across the hazy regins where the lonely emus wail

An' ye'll find the black'll track yer while yer lookin' for his trail;

He can track yer without stoppin' for a thousand miles or more —

Come again, and he will show yer where yer spit the year before.

But yer'd best be mighty careful, you'll be sorry you kem here

When yer skewered to the fakements of yer saddle with a spear —

When the boomerang is sailin' in the air, may heaven help yer!

It will cut yer head off goin', an' come back again and skelp yer.

P.S. — As poet and as Yankee I will greet you, Texas Jack,

For it isn't no ill-feelin' that is gettin' up my back,

But I won't see this land crowded by each Yank and British cuss

Who takes it in his head to come a-civilisin' us.

So if you feel like shootin' now, don't let yer pistol cough —

(Our Government is very free at chokin' fellers off);

And though on your great continent there's misery in the towns

An' not a few untitled lords and kings without their crowns,

I will admit your countrymen is busted big, an' free,

An' great on ekal rites of men and great on liberty;

I will admit yer fathers punched the gory tyrant's head,

But then we've got our heroes, too, the diggers that is dead —

The plucky men of Ballarat who toed the scratch right well

And broke the nose of Tyranny and made his peepers swell

For yankin' Lib.'s gold tresses in the roarin' days gone by,

An' doublin' up his dirty fist to black her bonny eye;

So when it comes to ridin' mokes, or hoistin' out the Chow,

Or stickin' up for labour's rights, we don't want showin' how.

They come to learn us cricket in the days of long ago,

An' Hanlan come from Canada to learn us how to row,

An' 'doctors' come from 'Frisco just to learn us how to skite,

An' 'pugs' from all the lands on earth to learn us how to fight;

An' when they go, as like or not, we find we're taken in,

They've left behind no larnin' — but they've carried off our tin.

Lawson's poem was a big hit with Australian audiences, with Texas Jack Junior serving as a stand-in for America and Yanks in general. The poem has remained relevant for more than a century, and has occasionally been used as a song, such as this "bush ballad" version by Slim Dusty, Australia's King of Country Music:

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