John Baker Omohundro was born July 27, 1846 at “Pleasure Hill” the family home near Palmyra in Fluvanna County, Virginia. It is said that he was not very fond of the schoolroom, to which he had to ride five miles on horseback each way, and was known to “play hooky” upon occasion, arriving home at night with a long string of fish, which he had somehow “miraculously obtained” during the day. From early youth, he was a natural born fisherman, huntsman, horseman and “crack” shot, who loved adventure, danger and the great outdoors. (Note: Texas Jack’s middle name has sometimes been reported as “Burwell,” but his name and birth are recorded in the family bible as “Baker,” his mother’s maiden name.)
When the war between the states broke out, Jack’s older brother Orville joined the Confederate army as a lieutenant under the command of Col. J.E.B Stuart. Jack, then 14, immediately volunteered his services, and was, to his great disappointment, denied because of his age. After several attempts, he was finally accepted into the army when he was l6, and was assigned to his brother’s regiment.
Jack immediately gained renown as a scout of ability and bravery, working directly under Col. Stuart, and was soon to be widely known as the “Boy Scout of the Confederacy”. Many times, he would act as a spy, moving among the Union troops as a chicken peddler or some other kind of tradesman, obtaining information about the enemy. Little was he to know that within the next 10 years, his best friends and saddle-mates would be former Union soldiers.