James Bowie, the real Old West adventurer

James Bowie


James Bowie or Jim Bowie (April 10?, 1796 – March 6, 1836) path-breaker and soldier, who had an outstanding role during the revolution in Texas. He was born in Kentucky, but he had spent his life largely in Louisiana, before he went to Texas and joined the revolution there. He was killed in action in Alamo.

Bowie is known about his dagger with special blade as well, which is called Bowie-knife since then. The stories about him made him one of the most colourful national heroes in Texas.

Bowie’s grandfather who was also James came to America in 1742. He married Sarah Whitehead in 1745 and they moved to Georgia. One of their children, Rezin fought in the war of independence. During this war, Rezin married Elve Jones in 1782, and they had 10 children. Later they left Georgia and moved to the present-day Tennessee. Rezin junior (who planned the Bowie-knife) was born on the 8th September 1793, and James Bowie around the 10th April 1796.

Although Bowie was born in Logan county (nowadays Simpson county), Kentucky, he spent his life largely in Louisiana. In his younger years he hunted and fished a lot, and according to legends he hooked in alligators with rope, and he tamed wild horses and bears. The family moved to St. Landry Parish, Louisiana in 1803. James and Rezin registered themselves to the troop of Colonel Colman Martin in the Louisiana army, to fight against the British king’s army in New Orleans, but they arrived too late, because the battle was over by that time. The Gent Convention put paid to the war in 1812. Rezin married Margaret F. Neville in 1814, and they had 5 children. Their father, Rezin senior died in 1821.

After the war Bowie and his brother went to Texas and met Jean Lafitte, the French pirate, and they started to illegal slave-trade. The government carried a bill in 1808, which made the slave import illegal to the US. James and Rezin got a huge property from slave-trade, they acquired 65.000 $, which was a heavy amount at that time. After finishing illegal slave-trade, Bowie started to illegal plot-speculation. He settled down in Rapides Parish, Louisiana in 1814. Before the Texas revolution Bowie had several doubtful adventures, among others searching for the famous silver-mines in San Saba, which turned out to be unsuccessful. During this time he got involved in several fights and became famous for his violent temperament. Rezin Bowie gave him the legendary Bowie-knife: it was a big, 10.5 inches (26,7 cm) long and 2 inches (5,1 cm) wide blade.



Bowie’s first famous action (which showed his bravery) was an affray near Natchez, Mississippi, in the course of which some people died, and Bowie himself got injured as well. It was the so-called sandbank battle. It developed from a duel between Samuel Levi Wells and a doctor, Thomas Maddox. The two men shot at each other but they missed the target. Then a viewer (Alexander Crain) shot at an other (Samuel Cuny) and he hit the mark. At that moment Bowie shot at Crain but he missed it. A banker (Norris Wright) put a bullet through Bowie’s chest. Bowie didn’t bother with his injury, he chased after Wright with his knife. During the fight, several men attacked Bowie with their knives but he ran his long blade back: he got his name from this knife-fight later. He used the knife very well, and it was necessary for him because firearms then were slowly loadable and imprecise. Not surprising that the knife with long blade became a very popular weapon, and everyone in Texas asked the gunsmith for a knife like that one of Bowie.

Bowie married Ursula Maria de Veramendi (the daughter of the Texas governor) in 1831, and they settled down in San Antonio. In September 1833, while Bowie was in Natchez (and suffered from yellow fever) Ursula Bowie and their child died of cholera.

James Bowie died during the battle in Alamo, at the age of 39, when he already suffered from advanced tuberculosis. Even from the sick-bed he shot at the attacking soldiers.


Page by Greyman

11 Responses to “James Bowie, the real Old West adventurer”

  1. GREYMAN says:

    Thanx all. 🙂

  2. Mope says:

    Very interesting person that James Bowie, thanx Grey!

  3. JippiJaYeah says:

    “He used the knife very well, and it was necessary for him because firearms then were slowly loadable and imprecise”

    Yeah, exactly my mind.

  4. JesseJames says:

    Lol ;@greyman
    very nice page btw (like always ) 🙂

  5. ZaPaTa says:

    Ah! didn’t see this page before. Very intressting story about the origin of the word Bowie Knife.
    But thins that strikes me: that wild ruthless knife-street-fighter was able to marry the daughter of a governor! How did he managed!?
    Well I don’t like his haircut, so I wasn’t for his looks I think she married him. Can’t be because he was rich neither 😀 So maybe because she liked danger? 😀

  6. Biondo says:

    Never knew about the origin of the name of “Bowie knife”. Interesting history.
    Do you think that because I hate this guy for having been involved in slave-trade, I should also hate our Bowie maniac member, Jippi?

    • GREYMAN says:

      No no no Biondo! 🙂
      I hate slave trading too. Even if the old Wild West, even in the beginning it was accepted.

      I think this knife is a very effective weapon in SG and in real life too. Regardless of who invented.
      I think you/we respect all clan members, and do not hate each other.
      Sorry for the misunderstanding.

      If your question is a joke, my reply is: 😀
      Thanks the visit. 🙂

    • GREYMAN says:

      Over the weekend, when I have time I go up Jabber.
      Seems to be better known to you.
      Dictionary and then those will be SLOW. 😀 😀 😀

    • GREYMAN says:

      Ok Biondo! 🙂

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