Search
  • Matthew Kerns

You can take the boy out of Virginia...

It makes perfect sense that Texas Jack enjoyed a good smoke. He grew up on a Virginia plantation, he fought in the Confederacy during the Civil War, he drove cattle up the Chisholm Trail, he tended bar near an Army fort, and he scouted and hunted on the frontier. Even in an era and place where most men enjoyed a smoke, Texas Jack was a noted aficionado.


His friend and frequent hunting companion the Earl of Dunraven described Jack this way on one of their expeditions to the new Yellowstone Park:


"Jack...is of course smoking—he always is smoking, except when he is eating, and the few minutes he is obliged to devote to mastication are grudgingly given—is holding forth to the rest of us, telling us some thrilling tale of cattle raids away down by the Rio Grande on the Mexican frontier; graphically describing some wild scurry with the Comanches on the plains of Texas; or making us laugh over some utterly absurd story narrated in that comical language and with that quaint dry humor which are peculiar to the American nation."


Jack's habits and his celebrity meant that enterprising salesmen were quick to offer "Texas Jack cigars" and "Texas Jack tobacco" to their patrons. One 1874 newspaper advertisement tells readers that, "If you want a good 5-cent cigar, call for a Texas Jack cigar, at B.B. Meisse's."


Another ad, from the W.S. Radebaugh & Co. Dry Goods Store (Wholesale Dealers in Ranch Supplies and General Merchandise) in Iuka, Kansas, tells shoppers that in addition to offering Texas Jack smoking tobacco at 22 cents, they will "pay the railroad fare of all persons from Olcott and Preston who make a cash purchase of $15 or over." What a deal!

Jack preferred his pipe, but also enjoyed cigars, particularly cheroots. A cheroots is a short, open-ended cigar especially popular in the British Empire, and one wonders if Jack acquired his taste in that particular type of cigar from either the Earl of Dunraven or his friend Dr. George Kingsley. Eagle-eyed readers might notice the cigar in the right hand of Texas Jack in the picture of him in his dress clothing, including top hat, cape, and overcoat.


But Jack's favorite vehicle for his tobacco was a prized pipe, a meerschaum he purchased in New York. The New York Times, reporting on the fine qualities of the white clay pipes, noted that "Texas Jack used to admire a fine meerschaum, and the buffalo head with amber horns that he purchased from a Ne York manufacturer was modeled after a buffalo that lived in Central Park. The artisan went to the Park at 6 o'clock in the morning before the crowds gathered, and as he carved the meerschaum the animal singularly presented to him an excellent side view, and a few moments later faced about and presented the other side of his handsome person. Finally he became enraged, and, backing several feet, made a terrific rush with lowered head against the iron gate in a wild struggle to escape his tormenter."


It is impossible to know if Texas Jack's meerschaum survived, but one very much like it, described as "a 9 inch long meerschaum pipe of a buffalo with original case from the late 19th century, with amber horns and mouthpiece" was sold at auction for $1125. Someone may own the favorite pipe of the world's most famous cowboy and not even know it.






21 views

© 2019 by Dime Library.

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • RSS Social Icon