Historical Marker #1947 in Simpson County remembers native son James Bowie, who died at the Alamo in 1836, and that county’s 1869 redrawn boundary with neighboring Logan County.
“Remember the Alamo!” is a phrase that has been passed down since that tragic event in 1836, as a call to action. At the mission in San Antonio its defenders died battling the Mexican army and helped Texas gain its independence. One of the Alamo’s victims was Kentucky native James “Jim” Bowie.
James Bowie was born in 1796 in what was then Logan County, Kentucky. As a child his family moved first to Missouri and then Louisiana, where Jim’s father, Reason, became a noted planter. As a young man Bowie became a slave trader and land speculator. He also developed a love of hunting and the outdoors. Bowie carried a large knife both for hunting and fighting on the rough Louisiana frontier. He forever became associated that particular style of blade, which came to be known as the bowie knife.
Bowie had visited Texas before, but in 1830 he traveled there with the intent of making money. He took an oath of allegiance to Mexico and began speculating in land, setting up shop in San Antonio. Bowie led several expeditions searching for legendary silver mines in the early 1830s, but only seemed to find conflicts with Indians. When tensions arose between Mexico and the Anglo settlers in Texas, Bowie joined forces William Barrett Travis and Stephen F. Austin.
When the Texas Revolution began in 1835, Bowie became a prominent figure in the Texas military. After participating in some early battles, he became famous for his participation in the Battle of the Alamo in March 1836. Bowie, along with William Barrett Travis, Tennessean David Crockett, and less than 200 men held off the attacking Mexican force until the Spanish mission turned fort was taken. Bowie, who was sick and bedridden at the time of the attack, was killed along with the Alamo’s other defenders.
The Kentucky land where the Bowies lived was still in neighboring Logan County when Simpson County was created in 1819. However, a state law in 1869 redrew the line between the counties which transferred a significant amount of land—including the former Bowie property—to Simpson County.