Plus Give Away
by Martha Rogers
James “Jim” Bowie was a hero of the Alamo in the battle for Texas’ freedom from Mexico. Jim, a 19th-century pioneer, played a prominent role in Texas Revolution and gave his life for the cause at the Alamo. Tales about his heroism and exploits in the battle and as a man of the frontier have made him a legendary figure and folk hero in Texas history. Some of the stories are true, but some are from the imagination of people who knew him or about him and expanded on his heroics.
Born in Kentucky in 1796, Bowie spent most of his life in Louisiana until he moved to Texas. Some of his exploits in Louisiana involved land speculation and the purchase of a plantation in Alexandria where he and his brother established the first steam mill for grinding sugar cane. They sold that in 1831.
Many of Bowie’s exploits involved defending himself with a large knife which led to stories of his prowess with the knife. This in turn led to the widespread popularity of the knife which became known as the Bowie knife. One of those battles was known as the “Sandbar Fight” and furthered the popularity of his knife. It became so popular that British manufacturers produced the knives and shipped them to the United States. The design evolved over the years, but
generally remained like the one Bowie used and is pictured here.
generally remained like the one Bowie used and is pictured here.
While recuperating from his wounds in the Sandbar Fight, Bowie moved to Texas and became a Mexican citizen and married Maria Ursala Veramendi, the daughter of the Mexican vice-governor of the province. In 1830, Texas then became his permanent residence. He and Maria had two children, but unfortunately, Maria and the children died of cholera in 1833.
He became well-known in Mexican politics for his land speculation, his expeditions for the Mexican government, and Indian battles. Bowie never boasted of his exploits despite his growing reputation and fame. He was described as a humble man who never used profanity or vulgarities.
In 1835, the president of Mexico ordered the arrests of all Texans doing business in the area of Monclova. This forced Bowie to flee the province and return to the Anglo areas of Texas.
Bowie then joined the Texas Militia when Stephen F. Austin formed the “Texian Army.” Before the Alamo, Bowie was involved in other battles along with William B. Travis and James Fannin. When Sam Houston became chief of the Texas army, he offered Bowie a commission as an officer on his staff, but Bowie declined. He said he’d rather be in the midst of the fighting.
After several battles with the Mexicans in which they were defeated, the Texans believed the war was over and many returned to their families. Bowie didn’t and instead went to San Felipe to ask the Texas council to allow him to recruit his own regiment but was denied.
When Sam Houston learned that Santa Anna was leading a large force to attack San Antonio, Bowie offered to lead the volunteers to defend the Alamo Mission from attack. He arrived in late January, 1836, with thirty men and found one hundred and four men there to defend it.
In February, Davy Crockett arrived with thirty Tennesseans. Then Bowie commanded the volunteers and Travis commanded the regular army and the volunteer cavalry.
On February 24, 1836, the siege of the Alamo began. Although Bowie was too ill to join in much of the active battle, he gave a valiant effort. One story goes that when it became evident the Mexican army would prevail, Travis drew a line in the sand and asked those willing to die for Texas to cross the line. At Bowie’s request, Crockett and several others carried Bowie’s cot across the line. There were no survivors to authenticate the account, and it believed to have been known to embellish his articles. Even so, it became a famous scene in the John Wayne movie about the Alamo.
Accounts of his death are as varied as the reputation of the man himself. Some say he died fighting on his cot with his guns blazing and wielding his knife. Others say his tongue was cut out while he was alive because he cursed a Mexican soldier. Other stories claim Bowie shot himself or was killed by Mexican soldiers because he was too weak to defend himself. Texans like their heroes and believe the first story of his going out with a fight to be the most accurate one.
Bowie’s body, along with Travis and Crockett’s were burned. One year after the battle, Juan Seguin returned to the Alamo, retrieved the remaining ashes from the pyre and placed them in a coffin. The coffin with the ashes was interred at the Cathedral of San Fernando. This is a replica of the Bowie knife and is on display at the Alamo today.
Bowie has been immortalized in both movies and TV shows. For two years, Bowie was the subject of a series, The Adventures of Jim Bowie.
All movies about the Alamo include the heroics of Jim Bowie. A county in Texas is named for him as are many elementary schools in the state. To Texans, he is hero right along with the likes of Davy Crockett and Sam Houston. The Bowie Knife remains as another part of his legacy.
Because there were not enough posts to have a good drawing, I've extended it to include this month. So, leave a comment below and tell me who is a great or legend in your state. You will have a choice of the gift of an e-book version or a hard copy of Bride on the Run or the paperback copy of Christmas at Stony Creek.
Kelly Morgan looks forward to her marriage to Darrell, but something isn't right and her childhood friend, Tyler, sees it. When a domineering soon to be mother-in-law takes over, changes honeymoon plans and dashes all hopes of Kelly decorating her own home, she falls apart and runs away from the ceremony. Who will be there to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and bring her home?
News reporter Tom Whiteman befriends a homeless man, Joe, and brings him home to Stoney Creek. Tom’s journalistic instincts suggest there’s more to the old man than appearances tell. A carpenter by trade, Joe works at odd jobs around town and makes many new friends including Faith Delmont, a girl who grew up with Tom. Contradictions in the man’s manners and way of speaking whet Tom’s nose for news and raises even more questions. As he and Faith seek the truth, they learn that God’s love can turn tragedy and loss to triumph and true love comes to those who seek it.
Martha Rogers is a multi-published author and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston, Texas where they are active members of First Baptist Church. They are the parents of three sons and grandparents to eleven grandchildren and great-grandparents to four. Martha is a retired teacher with twenty-eight years teaching Home Economics and English at the secondary level and eight years at the college level supervising student teachers and teaching freshman English. She is the Director of the Houston Christian Writers Conference held in Houston in August each year, a member of ACFW, ACFW WOTS chapter in Houston, and a member of the writers’ group, Inspirational Writers Alive.
Find Martha at: www.marthawrogers.com