Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Texas Legend

Jim Bowie: Hero of the Alamo
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.

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.

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  1. Hi Miss Martha, Thank you for sharing our Texas history so well.

  2. I found this on a Missouri Historical site:

    Daniel Morgan Boone (1769 - 1839)

    Just like his famed pioneer father, Daniel Morgan Boone enjoyed scouting and settling new frontiers. He was the first Boone to set foot in Missouri and one of the first settlers in Kansas. As a child, he followed his father on hunting trips and soon felt at ease moving through the unknown wilderness.
    Daniel Morgan Boone was born December 23, 1769, in North Carolina. He first ventured into Missouri at the request of his father. In 1797 Daniel Morgan traveled to the St. Charles district and visited with the Spanish lieutenant governor, Zenon Trudeau. The Spanish official was eager to have settler-defenders move into the area so he gave Daniel Morgan a land grant near present-day Matson, Missouri. The official also told him that if his father, Daniel Boone, would come to the area, he, too, would receive land—and so would anyone in his party. Within two years, Daniel Boone led a band of settlers to the area.
    Daniel Morgan built a double log house on his new property. His parents lived there for a number of years. He also supervised the construction of a fort on his land. In times of alarm—such as when they feared hostility from the Native Americans—settlers came to live at the fort. Later, Daniel Morgan oversaw a company of Missouri Rangers and served in the territorial militia. During the War of 1812, he worked as a spy and patrolled the frontier.
    Daniel Morgan married Sarah Griffin Lewis in 1800. They had at least twelve children. Daniel Morgan made his living as a hunter and trapper. He also conducted government land surveys in what are now St. Charles, Warren, Montgomery, and Lincoln counties. Around 1805, he and his brother Nathan opened a salt-making operation at a “salt lick” near present-day Boonville. They employed several men to boil kettles of water from the saltwater spring there. After the water evaporated, the salt was left behind. It was boated to St. Louis for sale. Salt was important in frontier times. It was used for preserving meat and tanning hides. The area became known as Boone’s Lick.
    Boone's Lick Trail Boone's Lick Trail
    The road the brothers forged to get there—which connected St. Charles to Howard County—became known as Boone’s Lick Trail or Boone’s Lick Road. The pathway enabled settlers to reach central Missouri. The trail ended at Franklin, Missouri. Later, Franklin became the starting point for the Santa Fe Trail, which connected Missouri to the Mexican city of Santa Fe—now Santa Fe, New Mexico.
    By 1826, Daniel Morgan had relocated to what is today Jackson County. In the late 1820s, he moved to what is now Kansas, settling near present-day Lawrence. There, he worked as an agriculturist for the government, teaching Native Americans to farm. He later moved back to Jackson County, where he died from cholera on July 13, 1839.

    Born: December 23, 1769
    Died: July 13, 1839 (age 69)
    Category: Explorers & Settlers
    Region of Missouri: Northeast
    Missouri County: Jackson
    Related Biographies: Daniel Boone, Nathan Boone

  3. There a a lot of famous people who have called Missouri home: Mark Twain, Harry Truman, Jessie James, Langston Hughes. Really too many to mention so I chose Daniel Boone's son. See the post before this one! Thanks.

    1. Missouri has so many famous legends like Texas. Great state. I do need your email address.

  4. Hey Martha, We went to the Alamo last year so reading about Bowie is so interesting! Thanks for the post!

  5. Martha, I really enjoyed this post. I didn't know that the bodies of Bowie and Davy Crockett were burned. This story has renewed by desire to visit The Alamo!

  6. this was an enjoyable post. thanks for the research you do and pass on. the book Christmas at Stony Creek really looks interesting to me.
    quilting dash lady at Comcast dot net

  7. Melanie Backus is the winner for this blog post. I'll email you with the details, Melanie.