Rendezvous at the Alamo: Highlights in the Lives of Bowie, Crockett, and Travis

By Virgil E. Baugh | Go to book overview

chapter 1
Bowie's Forebears and Childhood

JAMES BOWIE, whose exploits made his name familiar in almost every American home during his lifetime, and who died in a blaze of glory at the Alamo, had remarkable forebears. According to family tradition, three Bowie brothers emigrated from Scotland to America some time before the American Revolution. Two of them settled in Maryland. The third, who moved on to South Carolina, was James Bowie, the Alamo hero's paternal grandfather.1 One of the early Bowie emigrants is said to have brought with him a seal with the Bowie coat of arms on it, indicating noble birth.2 Indeed, one descendant traces the Bowies back to the famed Scot, Rob Roy, and his wife, nee Helen McGregor.3

The few known facts about this paternal grandfather are that he was married shortly after settling in South Carolina, was the father of four sons and a daughter, and died young. One of a set of twin sons was Rezin Bowie, born about 1762, the father of the James Bowie who is the subject of this biography. Although Rezin Bowie's life may have been more or less typical of the times, it probably rivaled that of his famous son for excitement, adventure, and romance. Walter Worthington Bowie gives us the following sketch of his early life:

[He] served when a mere boy in the Patriot Army as private soldier under General Marion. At the storming of Savannah he was wounded and taken prisoner. In warding off a blow directed at his head by a British officer, his hand was nearly severed by the saber of the Englishman. While confined in Savannah his wounds were dressed by the patriotic women of that city, among whom was Elve Ap-Catesby Jones, daughter of John Jones, a Welch emigrant. Young Bowie lost his heart

-15-

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