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

By Virgil E. Baugh | Go to book overview

chapter 6
Love and Lipan Silver

JAMES BOWIE'S love life prior to his one serious courtship is practically unknown. All we have are a few rumors and the names of several women with whom he was allegedly involved. One account is that he had "hectic affairs" with at least three beauties, one of aristocratic birth, the other two of lesser pretensions. Judalon de Bornay is described as a "high- born Creole maid of New Orleans"; Catherine Villers as a quadroon and one-time mistress of Jean Lafitte; and Sibil Cade as a "Cajun" or "swamp girl."1 In his choice of women Bowie was apparently governed by personal rather than class considerations.

At this late date it is hardly necessary to prove that Bowie was a gentleman. He could be as gallant as the occasion called for and as romantic as a woman expected him to be. But he had traveled far and wide over the frontier, mixed and lived with all classes of people. That is why he was as much at home at an Indian campfire as he was at a fashionable ball in New Orleans.

There is no evidence that he was a "chaser" or libertine, but it is just as unlikely that he was a prig. In his forays into Natchez- under-the-Hill he could hardly have avoided seeing vice in all its forms, including prostitution, but it is pretty unlikely that he was a patron of such low-class dens. It is equally difficult to believe that he would have taken advantage of a slave woman, but he could not have been unaware that plantation overseers and even the planters themselves often "carried on" with them, as testified to by the sizable plantation and city populations of mulattoes. In some Indian camps, such as he must often have visited, male guests were commonly furnished squaws as bed companions. In others it was probably a superfluous courtesy, as the squaws of

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