Texas Jack (South Africa)

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Advertisement for the Texas Jack Wild West show, Graham's Town, South Africa, 23 July 1898.

Texas Jack Jr., (1860 appr. to 1905), adopted son of Texas Jack Omohundro, is best known for running a Wild West show and circus where he gave Will Rogers his start as an entertainer.[1]

Not long after the American Civil War, Texas Jack Omohundro found a five year old boy, orphaned when his parents were killed by Native Americans. Omohundro cared for him and he took to calling himself Texas Jack Jr., dropping the "Jr." in later years after Omohundro's death in 1880.

Texas Jack became a sharpshooter and rough rider in shows around the world, including South Africa. By 1899 he was in England with a show called "Savage South Africa". The show included a historical re-enactment of the 1893 Shangani Patrol, a last stand of 34 white soldiers against an overwhelming number of Ndebele warriors, with Texas Jack starring as Frederick Russell Burnham, the American Chief of Scouts.[2] Later in 1899, the re-enactment was filmed and released as a war movie entitled Major Wilson's Last Stand.[3] A couple of years later he returned to Africa and started "Texas Jack's Wild West Show & Circus".

In 1902, Will Rogers met Texas Jack, hoping to get some kind of job wrangling the tents or the horses, but when Jack asked him if he could do a rope trick, Rogers obliged and was hired as an entertainer.[4]

Texas Jack died in Kroonstad, South Africa, in 1905.[5] He was survived by his common law wife, Lyle (or Lil) Marr, who was a sharpshooter in his show.

See also[edit]

List of Wild West shows

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yagoda, Ben (2000). Will Rogers: A Biography. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-8061-3238-9. 
  2. ^ Barrett, Cathy J.; Heather Valiance (October 1999). "The wild west show: socio-historic spectacle and characters as circus". Australasian Drama Studies: 125. 
  3. ^ Authur C. Brookes, ed. (December 1899). "Films". The Photographic Dealer and Optical and Scientific Apparatus Trades Journal (London, England) VII (43): 147. 
  4. ^ Vallance, Heather (5 July 2008). "The Cherokee Kid". The Anglo Boer War 1899 to 1902. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  5. ^ Yagoda, Ben (2000). Will Rogers: A Biography. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-8061-3238-9.