Those Wild Bowie Boys
T HE OLDER trio of Bowie boys had been almost inseparable for a time, but Rezin was closest to Jim in age and interests. He was always ready to join him in any dangerous undertaking or novel adventure. He even thought up a few himself. The boys' reputation for some of these exploits grew and grew. No one could guess what those "wild Bowie boys" would take up next. We can be thankful that people did talk about them; otherwise, even the few facts we have about some of their pastimes would not have come down to us.
Alligators infested the backwaters of the Mississippi by the tens of thousands. An 1811 traveler from Nashville to Bayou Teche left an account of how, in a passage of eight weeks down the rivers and through the bayous and lakes of Louisiana, the passengers amused themselves by shooting at "thousands of alligators all around."1 On their passages down rivers during the many Bowie family moves, the Bowie boys must at times also have witnessed this "sport" -- although it was more than just a sport, for these reptiles were a serious menace to men and animals. In his book, Mysteries of the Back-Woods, T. B. Thorpe describes the trouble one man had when, on "opening a plantation" in southern Louisiana, he
...found, after most of the forest had been cleared off, that in the centre of his land was a boggy piece of low soil covering nearly twenty acres. This place was singularly infested with alligators. Among the first victims that fell a prey to their rapacity, were a number of hogs and fine poultry; next followed most of a pack of fine deer hounds.... The leisure time of every day was devoted to their extermination.2
Alligator hunts were often organized in an attempt to reduce