Sunday, November 25, 2012


amily lore. We all have it. When I was growing up I recall hearing my parents say that we were related to the famous gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok. My brother, however, never heard this. I have tried to find a genealogical connection to Wild Bill, but so far there is none. However, I have recently discovered that I have the Bowie surname in my family tree, so now I am wondering if perhaps it was Jim Bowie ( who was the ancestor.  Memories play tricks on you.

The Alamo

My fifth great grandfather’s name was JAMES BOWIE (1714-1744); he was born and died in Maryland. My sixth great grandfather was JOHN BOWIE (1688-1759); he was born in Scotland and died in Maryland Now the task is to see if my Bowie family is connected to the Jim Bowie who died at the Alamo.  I first had to get my Bowies out of Maryland since the famous Jim Bowie was born in Kentucky. My James Bowie had three daughters, but no sons as far as I can tell.  His father John, however, had five sons (James, John, Allen, William and Thomas).  Perhaps one of James’ brothers produced a son who produced a son and somewhere down the line came the famous Jim Bowie.

I began by downloading The Bowies and their Kindred: A Genealogical and Biographical History by Walter Worthington Bowie (  I also reviewed the University of Maryland Archives “Bowie Family Papers” discussion at

My sixth great grandfather had a son named John (1708-1753). John had a son named James (1739-1789). Apparently, there is a bit of a mystery about this James.  Some people believe he moved from Maryland to South Carolina where he became the father of Rezin Bowie, who was the father of Colonel James Bowie, hero of the Alamo. (1)  If this is true, then Colonel James Bowie is my 3rd Cousin 4X removed. Other traditions indicate that James Bowie died around 1760 and that there is no connection between Maryland’s Bowie family and Colonel James Bowie. (2)

Sometimes there is a grain of truth in family lore. Some people imagine that they have Indian princesses in their family trees, others have gunfighters.  People enjoy the idea that they might be related to someone exotic or famous or even infamous.  It breaks up the monotony of decades of hard-working farmers.  Enjoy your family’s lore but realize that it might be fiction.


Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, 1200 Ornamental Letters, 2007.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, 1565 Spot Illustrations and Motifs, 2007.


(1) Walter Worthington Bowie, Bowies and Their Kindred: A Genealogical and Biographical History, Washington: Press of Cromwell Bros., 1890 ( accessed November 25, 2012), pp. 28, 258, 259.

(2) University of Maryland Libraries Digital Collection, "Bowie Family Papers." ( accessed November 25, 2012).


  1. Nice story!

    I also have a connection to James Bowie; I've been trying to fully document it for years. What I've found so far can be found at my website:


  2. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. I actually reviewed your excellent website prior to posting my blog. It popped right up in Google when I searched for James Bowie. Very interesting! Let me know if you find any more Bowie information!