Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


July 30, 2011

Bob Bowman’s East Texas

Bowie and his knife


Texas historians have written volumes about Jim Bowie, who died at the Alamo, but what people remember most about him is a big hunting blade he carried--a weapon known in history simply as the Bowie Knife.

In 1838, two years after the Alamo’s fall, Rezin Bowie, Jim’s brother, claimed he made the first Bowie knife while the Bowie family lived in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana. He designed it as a hunting knife and gave it to Jim after he had been shot in a fight.

But the man who actually made the famous knife, was Jesse Clifft, a blacksmith who was a friend and neighbor of the Bowies.

The Bowie knife gained widespread popularity after the celebrated sandbar fight on September 19, 1827, near Natchez, Mississippi.

On that date Samuel Levi Wells confronted Dr. Thomas Maddox on the sandbar. After firing pistols at each other without effect, Wells and Maddox shook hands and started off the field. But members of the Maddox group suddenly fired at Wells’ followers, which included Bowie. Bowie fell, shot through a lung,

An arch-enemy, Norris Wright, who along with Alfred Blanchard, stabbed Bowie repeatedly with sword canes. Bowie raised himself, grabbed Wright and sank his big knife into Wright’s heart, killing him instantly.

Newspapers across the nation printed lurid and detailed stories of the Sandbar Fight. The public reveled in the prowess of Bowie and his knife.

Later, W.W. Bowie, a kinsman, wrote that Bowie gave his Sandbar Fight knife to the famous actor Edwin Forrest, whom Bowie had met in New Orleans in February, 1824.

In the history of American arms, three weapons stand out above all the rest: the Kentucky rifle, the Colt revolver, and the Bowie knife. Each became an American legend.

What happened to the original Bowie knife after Bowie died at the Alamo?

It’s a mystery. One supposed original is on display at the Alamo. Another was supposedly lost by Bowie when he left it on the ground after killing a deer near Goliad, returned to retrieve it, but could not find it. And a museum in Arkaansas claims it has the original in its collection of knives.

(Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of more than 50 books about East Texas. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com)

Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of more than 50 books about East Texas. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com

Text Only
  • Eating healthy is about making good choices

    There's a four-letter word I've been trying to avoid, but I don't think I can do so any longer.

    July 22, 2014

  • The biggest risk to your retirement income

    I started helping people plan for retirement over 30 years ago. It certainly was a lot simpler than. Many people had some type of pension plan from the company they had worked for over 30 years that guaranteed them a paycheck for the rest of their life.

    July 11, 2014

  • The little things make a big difference

    The little things in life make a big difference.  This is especially true in adopting a healthy lifestyle.  People often think of healthy living in terms of big changes that they need to make.

    July 2, 2014

  • Change is needed for progress

    Change. It's a dreaded word for some, but I see change as an opportunity to make certain aspects of a situation better than they were before.

    June 20, 2014

  • Death of a family member checklist

    Losing a loved one is obviously a very emotional experience. The first thing I tell people is nothing immediately has to be done from a business standpoint.

    June 13, 2014

  • Reasons to love your cane

    When I first started making canes and walking sticks as a hobby, the idea of having to use one myself was not in the forefront of my mind. Canes, I thought, were for older people; people who had difficulty in walking.

    June 7, 2014

  • The Tomato: Vegetable or fruit?

    As a dietitian and nutritionist, I have often heard this question “Is a tomato a vegetable or a fruit?”  If you have studied botany you know that all seed bearing plants are botanically classified as fruits.

    June 4, 2014

  • What’s new in the world of higher education?

    For the 2013-2014 school year, the average cost at a 4-year public college is $22,826.
     The average cost at a private college is $44,750, although many private colleges charge over $60,000 per year (Source: The College Board, Trends in College Pricing 2013).

    May 10, 2014

  • Don’t forget to remember those in the military this month for Memorial Day

    On Memorial Day, our country will remember the military men and women who gave their lives serving our nation.

    May 2, 2014

  • Hoisting flags and honoring family

    While searching our syndicated columns to fill this space, I realized ... it's probably time for me to say a few things.
    A lot has been happening lately, professionally and personally.

    April 18, 2014