James Bowie

James Bowie (1796 - 1836)

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Col James "Jim" Bowie
Born in Terrapin Creek, Logan, Kentucky, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in San Antonio, Bexar, Texas Colonymap
Died in The Alamo, San Antonio, Bexar, Texasmap
Profile last modified | Created 21 Nov 2014 | Last significant change: 6 Mar 2019
15:14: Dan Sparkman edited a message from Dan Sparkman on the page for James Bowie (1796-1836). [Thank Dan for this]
This page has been accessed 7,201 times.

Categories: Logan County, Kentucky | Texas Notables | Texas History | The Alamo | Siege of Bexar | Namesakes US Counties | Battle of the Alamo, KIA | Texas Project-Managed.

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Died for Texas
Col. Jim Bowie is legendary due to his family and his exploits, as well as his contributions Alamo history.[1]


James "Jim" Bowie was born April 10, 1796 to Rezin Bowie and Elvira Catesby Jones.[2][3]

The Bowie family lived in Franklin, Kentucky near Terrapin Creek and on Bowie's Mill Road (later Turnertown Road). Later, they lived in Missouri and finally settled in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana, where he grew up. [2][4][3]

Bowie house

James was described as stout, 6 ft tall, 180 lbs weight, light hair, grey eyes with a temper.[5] In 1827, he was in a brawl in Mississippi which resulted in him being wounded and several men being killed.[6][3]

James was engaged to Cecilia Wells in 1829, but she died before they could be married, September 29, 1829 in Alexandria.[3][7]


James floated lumber down the rivers to be marketed in Avoyelles and Rapides parishes. He also invested in property on the Bayou Boeuf. There he hunted, fished, rode wild horses, and rode alligators.[8][4][3] He was going to serve in the War of 1812, but he was too late. The war had ended.

James owned and traded slaves just as his father had done. With sufficient money saved, he sold the plantation and slaves, with no further interest in owning either again.[9][3][10] In 1829, Jim joined the Masonic Order in Opelousas, Louisiana. After Jim’s death at the Alamo, the masonic apron was found with his possessions.[2]

Rezin Bowie, Jr, Jim's brother, wrote that he had the first Bowie knife made at Avoyelles, Louisiana. It was created for his brother James to defend himself, and that James used the Bowie knife in the Sandbar Duel. After recovering from the wounds he received there, Jim moved to Texas.[3][11]


Entering the Mexican Texas Colony, Bowie and his friend, Isaac Donoho, stopped near Nacogdoches, at Jared E. Groce's farm on the Brazos River, and in San Felipe.[3] There Bowie presented a letter of introduction to impresario Stephen F. Austin.[3] Next, James and his brother Rezin went on an expedition to find the Lost San Saba Mine but were unable to locate it. They proceeded onto Saltillo, the then capitol of the Texas colony (now located in NW Mexico (160 mi) west of the Texas border).

By February 20, 1830 James was in San Antonio de Bexar to present more letters of introduction to a wealthy settler, Juan MartÌn de Veramendi.[12][9] James married his daughter, Maria Ursula de Veramendi, age 19, April 25, 1831 in San Fernando Cathedral, San Antonio de Bexar, Texas Colony. By this time, Juan was his business partner. James signed a dowry contract for 15,000 pesos, presenting himself as age 30.[7][3][13] At the time of his marriage, James listed more assets than he may have owned, however he at least had an interest in the Acadia Plantatioln in Louisiana, which sold later for $90,000. It was still less than what James promised in the marriage contract. James and Maria settled in San Antonio.[9] From the marriage notice: "D[on] Santiago Buy con D[oñ]a Ursula de Beramendi".[3] They had two children,[7] Marie Elve, born March 20, 1832 and James Veramendi, born July 18, 1833. Unfortunately their union didn't last long, as Maria, her parents, and both of her children died of cholera in September 1833.[7]

On March 8, 1831, James authorized his brother Rezin to be sell his property in Louisiana, Arkansas, and elsewhere.[2]

Land Trader

James' next endeavor was in land. Mexico was selling 11 league land grants to Mexican citizens. When the citizens purchased the grants, James bought the leagues from them.[9] Stephen F Austin eventually allowed James to settle there and accepted the tracts of land as part of the colony.

The Alamo

James worked with William B Travis in several endeavors to stand up for the Texans' rights. He fought in the Battle of Concepcion, November 26, 1835 and the Siege of Bexar, October through December 14, 1835, near San Antonio, including the Grass Fight.[9][3] Gen. Sam Houston, in a letter dated December 17, suggested a different assignment for Bowie.

January 1836, Jim was in charge of the group of volunteers at the garrison of the Alamo. Former leader, Col. Neill, needed to leave for home to care for family, and requested Lt. Col William Travis to command the Texas Alamo military. Travis arrived in February, accompanied by a group of army troops to bolster the numbers defending the Alamo. There was conflict between the two leaders and their troops in the tiny Alamo. Tension was only exacerbated by the fact that there was no heat in the Alamo, due to it being a mission. Although there was still conflict between the volunteers defending the Alamo, led by Bowie, and William B Travis' troops, they finally resolved to co-share the defense. Soon Jim became ill with either pneumonia or tuberculosis, mentioned in reports, but it isn't clear which. Adding to his situation, it was one of the coldest winters remembered for San Antonio. Jim was soon confined to a cot.[9]

The Mexican Army arrived February 23, 1836, led by General Santa Anna and began the attack on the Alamo, which lasted from February until March 6, 1836. All of the defenders were killed the final day, including James Bowie.

A memorial to defenders is in San Fernando Cathedral. [14] March 6, 1976, masons of Texas gathered at the Scottish Rite Temple, in San Antonio, Texas and marched in a cold rain to the Alamo to lay a bronze plaque to honor the masons who died at the Alamo[2] including James Bonham, James Bowie, David Crockett, Almaron Dickinson, William Barrett Travis, and other unidentified masons who gave their lives in the Battle of the Alamo. It was erected by the Grand Lodge. Bowie County, Texas is also named in his honor.[15]


Upon becoming very ill in Natchez, Mississippi October 31, 1833, James wrote his will. In it he left property to brother Rezin and to his brother-in-law, Alexander Sterett, married to his sister Martha. Both men were also the executors.[2]

Many donations and bounties were awarded to James' heirs. A few of them are listed below:

Bexar Don., 640A
Travis Bty 1920 A, GLO.


  1. Biography of Jim Bowie, latinamericanhistory.com
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "The Rezin Bowie Family of Louisiana: Documents Supporting Corrections and Additions Concerning the Rezin Bowie Family of Louisiana and Suggestions for Further Research", Author Virginia Lobdell Jennings, Publisher Louisiana Genealogical & Historical Society, 1997; ISBN: 096619540X, 9780966195408 pg 124-8 copied page
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 James Bowie Biography at Tama.edu
  4. 4.0 4.1 First Settlers of Catahoula Parish, Louisiana: 1808-1839
  5. Hathi Trust
  6. "Bowie", thealamo.org
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 James Bowie
  8. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 TexasOnline.org article on James Bowie
  9. LSJunction.com article on James Bowie
  10. Bowie
  11. LINTON & BIRD Chronicles, Volume VI, Issue 2, Summer © 2011, ISSN 1941-3521
  12. book on HathiTrust.org
  13. Find A Grave: Memorial #2310
  14. Texas Counties and Who They're Named After. on genealogytrails.com

See also:

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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with James by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with James:

Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Images: 9
Bowie Knife
 Bowie Knife

Jim Bowie by George Peter Alexander Healy
Jim Bowie by  George Peter Alexander Healy

Jim Bowie Display & Museum, Opelousas, LA
Jim Bowie Display & Museum,  Opelousas, LA

Jim Bowie Display & Museum, Opelousas, LA
Jim Bowie Display & Museum,  Opelousas, LA

Jim Bowie Oak, Opelousas LA
Jim Bowie Oak, Opelousas LA

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On 6 Mar 2019 at 15:12 GMT Dan Sparkman wrote:

He should be one of the Prominents! Also, place of death should read "Republic of Texas" instead of just "Texas."

On 28 Feb 2019 at 21:54 GMT Abby (Brown) Glann wrote:

Hi PMs,

I am featuring this profile next week for our EPOW, so I'll be making a couple tweaks to bring it up to WikiTree style guide standards. It looks great right now, so there shouldn't be too many changes.


On 15 Nov 2015 at 21:10 GMT Mary Richardson wrote:

Hello, this profile is in progress of a merge. Will you check (use edit) and correct James Bowie so that his father is listed as John Rezin Bowie to be FATHER of his children and Elvira Catesby Jones to be the MOTHER of children? Thank you ~Mary

On 15 Nov 2015 at 00:56 GMT Bruce Porter wrote:

Bowie-361 and Bowie-279 appear to represent the same person because: Same parents, same dob & death?

Cheers, Cousin Bruce

James is 14 degrees from Caryl Ruckert, 14 degrees from Harriet Stowe and 15 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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