Texas Jack Jr.

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

Texas Jack Jr., (c.1860 to 1905), who adopted the name of his rescuer 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]

Background[edit]

Not long after the American Civil War, while driving a herd of cattle to northern markets, Texas Jack Omohundro found two small girls and a five-year-old boy who had been orphaned when their parents were killed by Native Americans. Omohundro escorted the children to safety, and provided for their care. The boy took to calling himself Texas Jack Jr.[2] Texas Jack Jr. related his story to the family of Texas Jack Omohundro after that man's death, receiving their blessing to use his name in show business.[citation needed]

Wild west show[edit]

Texas Jack Jr. show Advertising poster

Texas Jack was a sharpshooter and trick rider in shows around the world, especially 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 Jack starring as Frederick Russell Burnham, the American chief of scouts who was one of only three survivors of the battle.[3] The re-enactment was filmed and released as a war movie entitled Major Wilson's Last Stand that same year.[4] A couple of years later he returned to South Africa and started "Texas Jack's Wild West Show & Circus".

Hires Will Rogers[edit]

In 1902, Will Rogers approached Jack, hoping to get a 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.[5]

Death[edit]

Jack died in Kroonstad, South Africa, in 1905.[6] He was survived by his common law wife, Lyle (or Lil) Marr, who was also 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. ^ Note: He dropped the 'Junior' suffix in later years, after Omohundro's death (1880).
  3. ^ Barrett, Cathy J.; Heather Valiance (October 1999). "The Wild West Show: Socio-historic Spectacle and Characters As Circus". Australasian Drama Studies: 125. 
  4. ^ Authur C. Brookes, ed. (December 1899). "Films". The Photographic Dealer and Optical and Scientific Apparatus Trades Journal. London, England. VII (43): 147. 
  5. ^ Vallance, Heather (5 July 2008). "The Cherokee Kid". The Anglo Boer War 1899 to 1902. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  6. ^ Yagoda, Ben (2000). Will Rogers: A Biography. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-8061-3238-9.