After the war, Jack heard about the great ranches in Texas with their wealthy owners and decided that this was the place for him! Starting out by ship, he reached New Orleans but the ship encountered a storm and he became shipwrecked on the west coast of Florida. Jack stayed there and hunted and taught school. He struck out again for Texas, but this time on horseback.
The Taylor Ranch and Heroic Tales
Jack stopped at a ranch owned by a man named Taylor and was hired on as a cowboy. He soon became head of the ranch, which was said to be the largest in Texas. Not long after his employment there Jack, by chance, learned of a conspiracy planned by a gang of seven men to kidnap for ransom a local woman named Mrs. Sophie Elgin. Arranging a little "surprise party" for them, it was Jack who awaited the kidnappers at her house and his rifle took care of them when they tried to break down the door with a ram. A very grateful Mrs. Elgin was, after that, a staunch friend of Jack's.
Jack began to make considerable money driving cattle from Texas to Nebraska and Missouri. It is unknown how many times he followed the famous Chisholm Trail to Abilene, Kansas and its railroad heading east.
One day, he came upon a pioneer home which had recently been ransacked by hostile Indians. Although the father and mother had been slain, Jack found a four or five year old boy hiding under the floorboards. Jack took the boy to Fort Worth, where he was placed in good hands. This boy went on in later life to be a showman in his own right, and used the name "Texas Jack Jr." in homage to his rescuer. While Texas Jack Jr. was touring with his Wild West show in South Africa, he happened to hire a young man by the name of Will Rogers. Texas Jack Jr. taught him how to do lasso tricks and Will Rogers later regarded his association with Texas Jack, Jr. as one of the most important periods of his life.
Texas Jack Gets His Name
It the late 1860's, there occurred a terrible drought in the state of Tennessee. Many people were starving, and because of almost negligible transportation facilities, supplies were virtually impossible to get. Hearing of this situation, Jack decided that he could do something to help alleviate the problems for the people of Tennessee, and at the same time, make some money for himself.
He rounded up a large herd of cattle, enlisted a contingent of cowboys, and investing all his available capital in the venture, set off for Tennessee. The route, which went through rugged wilderness, was a very difficult and dangerous one. During the trip, several bands of hostile Indians were encountered and, in one surprise attack, seven of his cowboys were killed and many head of cattle were lost.
Within weeks however, the inhabitants of a small town in Tennessee were very happily surprised when they learned that a herd of cattle was being driven their way. Their appreciation was expressed by a rousing welcome for the drivers. Asking who was in charge of the cattle, the town officials were surprised to see a pleasant young man approaching.
"Where ya from?" asked one.
"From Texas, sir," came the reply.
"What's the name," called out another.
"Jack, sir," was the only answer.
"Texas Jack, eh?" came a rejoinder from one of the crowd, only to be caught up by loud cheers from the townspeople: "Hurrah for Texas Jack!"
Thus does a newspaper account at the time of his death, record how J.B. Omohundro came by the nickname of "Texas Jack"— a name that was to follow him the rest of his life.