Bowie, on business in Natchez, heard of his family's deaths in November. From then on, he drank heavily and became "careless in his dress. " 
Some claim that Bowie designed it, while others attribute the design to noted knife makers of the time.  In a letter to The Planter's Advocate, Rezin Bowie claimed to have invented the knife,  however, and many Bowie family members as well, as "most authorities on the Bowie knife tend to believe it was invented by" Rezin.  Rezin Bowie's grandchildren, however, claimed that Rezin merely supervised his blacksmith, who was the creator of the knife.
 Bowie was the ninth of ten children born to Reason (or Rezin) and Elve Ap-Catesby Jones (or Johns) Bowie.  His father had been wounded while fighting in the American Revolutionary War, and in 1782 married the young woman who had nursed him back to health. The Bowies first settled in Georgia and then moved to Kentucky.
At the time of Bowie's birth, his father owned eight slaves, eleven head of cattle, seven horses, and one stud horse. The following year the family acquired 200 acres (80 ha) along the Red River. They sold that property in 1800 and relocated to what is now Missouri, before moving to Spanish Louisiana in 1802, where they settled on Bushley Bayou in what soon became Rapides Parish.
  
  Bowie hurried to gather provisions and herd cattle into the Alamo compound. 
He stopped at Nacogdoches, at Jared E. Groce's farm on the Brazos River, and in San Felipe, where Bowie presented a letter of introduction to Stephen F.
McKinney, one of the Old Three Hundred colonists. On February 20, Bowie took an oath of allegiance to Mexico and then proceeded to San Antonio de Bexar.  At the time, the city was known as Bexar and had a population of 2500, mostly of Mexican descent, and Bowie's fluency in Spanish helped him establish himself in the area.
 Bowie was elected a commander, with the rank of colonel, of the Texas Rangers later that year.  Although the Rangers would not be organized officially until 1835, Stephen F. Austin had founded the group by employing 30 men to keep the peace and protect the colonists from attacks by hostile Indians.
Other areas assembled similar volunteer militias, and Bowie commanded a group of the volunteers. 
1 Informational notes After the Sandbar Fight and subsequent battles in which Bowie used his knife to defend himself, the Bowie knife became very popular. Many craftsmen and manufacturers made their own versions, and major cities of the Old Southwest had "Bowie knife schools" that taught "the art of cut, thrust, and parry. "  His fame, and that of his knife, spread to England, and by the early 1830s many British manufacturers were producing Bowie knives for shipment to the United States.
 The design of the knife continued to evolve, but today a Bowie knife generally is considered to have a blade 8. 2 cm) wide, with a curved point, a "sharp false edge cut from both sides", and a cross-guard to protect the user's hands.  Establishment in Texas
" According to his older brother John, James Bowie was born in Logan County, Kentucky, on March 10, 1796 (Historical marker: 36° 46' 25"N 86° 42' 10"W).  Historian Raymond Thorp gave his birth date as April 10, but Thorp did not provide any documentation for that date.  Bowie's surname was pronounced / ˈ b uː i/ BOO-ee     (although some reference works refer to an incorrect alternate pronunciation / ˈ b oʊ i/ BOH-ee   ).
Archived from the original on 2012-02-08.
 The Bowie children were raised on the frontier and even as small children were expected to help clear the land and plant crops. All the children learned to read and write in English, but James and his elder brother Rezin could also read, write, and speak Spanish and French fluently.  The children learned to survive on the frontier and how to fish and run a farm and plantation.
James Bowie became proficient with pistol, rifle, and knife,  and had a reputation for fearlessness. When he was a boy, one of his Native American friends even taught him to rope alligators. 
The following year, on September 19, 1827, Bowie and Wright attended a duel on a sandbar outside of Natchez, Mississippi. Bowie supported duellist Samuel Levi Wells III, while Wright supported Wells's opponent, Dr.
The duellists each fired two shots and, as neither man had been injured, resolved their duel with a handshake.   Other members of the groups, who had various reasons for disliking each other, began fighting. Bowie was shot in the hip; after regaining his feet he drew a knife, described as a butcher knife, and charged his attacker, who hit Bowie over the head with his empty pistol, breaking the pistol and knocking Bowie to the ground.
Wright shot at and missed the prone Bowie, who returned fire and possibly hit Wright. Wright then drew his sword cane and impaled Bowie. When Wright attempted to retrieve his blade by placing his foot on Bowie's chest and tugging, Bowie pulled him down and disemboweled Wright with his large knife.
  Wright died instantly, and Bowie, with Wright's sword still protruding from his chest, was shot again and stabbed by another member of the group. The doctors who had been present for the duel removed the bullets and patched Bowie's other wounds.  References
Bowie Knife Fights, Fighters, and Fighting Techniques.
An hour after the battle ended, Austin arrived with the rest of the Texian army to begin a siege of San Antonio de Béxar, where General Martín Perfecto de Cós, the overall commander of Mexican forces in Texas, and his troops were garrisoned.  Two days later, Bowie resigned from Austin's army because he did not have an official commission in the army, and he disliked the "minor tasks of scouting and spying". 
The Anglos in Texas began agitating for war against Santa Anna, and Bowie worked with William B. Travis, the leader of the War Party, to gain support. Bowie visited several Indian villages in East Texas in an attempt to persuade the reluctant tribes to fight against the Mexican government.
Santa Anna responded to the rumblings by ordering large numbers of Mexican troops to Texas.  Battle of Concepción
On February 3, Davy Crockett appeared with thirty Tennesseans. Neill went on furlough on February 11 to visit his sick family, leaving Travis, a member of the regular army, in command.  Bowie was older than Travis with a better reputation and considered himself a colonel, thus outranking Travis, a lieutenant colonel.
  He refused to answer to Travis, who called an election for the men to choose their own commander. They chose Bowie, infuriating Travis.  Bowie celebrated his appointment by getting very drunk and causing havoc in San Antonio, releasing all prisoners in the local jails and harassing citizens.
Travis was disgusted, but two days later the men agreed to a joint command; Bowie would command the volunteers, and Travis would command the regular army and the volunteer cavalry. 4 Battle of the Alamo
"Bowie (Boo-wee) or Bowie (Bo-wee)? What's in a Name?".
 Bowie also brought several black servants, some of whom worked at the Veramendi Palace, into the security of the Alamo fortress.   Bowie had been ill, and two doctors, including the fort surgeon, were unable to diagnose his illness.  Travis became the sole commander of the forces when Bowie was confined to bed.
 Santa Anna and his army began a siege of the Alamo on February 24. The Mexican army raised a red flag to warn the defenders that no quarter would be given. 
For the next seven years, the brothers worked together to develop several large estates in Lafourche Parish and Opelousas.  Louisiana's population was growing rapidly, and the brothers hoped to take advantage of its rising land prices through speculation. Without the capital required to buy large tracts,  they entered into a partnership with pirate Jean Lafitte in 1818 to raise money.
By then, the United States had outlawed the importation of slaves, and most southern states allowed anyone who informed on a slave trader to receive half of what the imported slaves would earn at auction as a reward. Bowie made three trips to Lafitte's compound on Galveston Island. On each occasion, he bought smuggled slaves and took them directly to a customhouse to inform on his own actions.
When the customs officers offered the slaves for auction, Bowie purchased them and received back half the price he had paid, as allowed by the state laws. He then could legally transport the slaves and resell them at a greater market value in New Orleans or areas farther up the Mississippi River.   Using this scheme, the brothers collected $65,000 to be used for their land speculation.
  On February 26, Crockett reported that Bowie, though suffering from his affliction, continued to crawl from his bed around noon every day and presented himself to the Alamo's inhabitants, which much boosted the morale of his comrades. 
As the Mexicans stopped to reload their cannon, the Texians climbed a bluff and picked off some of the soldiers. The stalemate ended shortly after Bowie led a charge to seize one of the Mexican cannons, at that time only 80 yards (73 m) away. Ugartechea retreated with his troops, ending the Battle of Concepción.
One Texian and ten Mexican troops had been killed.  One of the men under Bowie's command during the battle later praised him "as a born leader, never needlessly spending a bullet or imperiling a life, who repeatedly admonished. Keep under cover boys, and reserve your fire; we haven't a man to spare. "  Grass Fight and commission difficulties Early years In 1825, the two brothers joined with their younger brother Stephen to buy Acadia Plantation near Thibodaux.
Within two years, they had established the first steam mill in Louisiana to be used for grinding sugar cane.    The plantation became known as a model estate, but on February 12, 1831, they sold it and 65 slaves for $90,000. With their profits, James and Rezin bought a plantation in Arkansas.
 Houston offered Bowie a commission as an officer on his staff, but Bowie rejected the opportunity, explaining that he wanted to be in the midst of the fighting.  Instead, Bowie enlisted in the army as a private under Fannin.   He distinguished himself again in the Grass Fight on November 26.
Cós had sent approximately 187 men to cut grass for his horses.  As they returned to San Antonio, Bowie took 60 mounted men to intercept the party,  which they believed carried valuable cargo.  The Mexican troops quickened their pace in the hopes of reaching the safety of the city, but Bowie and his cavalry chased them.
At the end of the fight, the Texians had two wounded men, but had captured many horses and mules. 
 Santa Anna ordered the alcalde of San Antonio, Francisco Antonio Ruiz, to confirm the identities of Bowie, Travis, and Crockett.  After first ordering that Bowie be buried, as he was too brave a man to be burned like a dog,  Santa Anna later had Bowie's body placed with those of the other Texians on the funeral pyre. 
 With his citizenship assured, Bowie now had the right to buy up to 11 leagues of public land. He convinced 14 or 15 other citizens to apply for land in order to turn it over to him, giving him 700,000 acres (280,000 ha) for speculation. Bowie may have been the first to induce settlers to apply for empresario grants, which could then be sold in bulk to speculators as Bowie had.
  The Mexican government passed laws in 1834 and 1835 that stopped much of the land speculation. 
The Alamo, circa 1847
3 Grass Fight and commission difficulties
When the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory in 1803, it promised to honor all former land grant claims, and for the next 20 years efforts were made to establish who owned what land. In May 1824, Congress authorized the superior courts of each territory to hear suits from those who claimed they had been overlooked. The Arkansas Superior Court received 126 claims in late 1827 from residents who claimed to have purchased land in former Spanish grants from the Bowie brothers.
Although the Superior Court originally confirmed most of those claims, the decisions were reversed in February 1831 after further research showed that the land had never belonged to the Bowies and that the original land grant documentation had been forged.
Supreme Court upheld the reversal in 1833.   When the disgruntled purchasers considered suing the Bowies, they discovered that the documents in the case had been removed from the court; left without evidence, they declined to pursue a case.  Bowie knife
On November 3, 1835, Texas declared itself an independent state, and a provisional government was formed with Henry Smith of Brazoria elected provisional governor. Austin requested to be relieved of his command of the army, and Sam Houston was named army chief. Edward Burleson was chosen as temporary commander of the troops in San Antonio.
Bowie appeared before the council at some point and spoke for an hour, asking for a commission.  The council refused Bowie's request, likely because of lingering animosity over his land dealings. 
Wikimedia Commons has media related to James Bowie.
In 1828, after recovering from wounds suffered in the Sandbar Fight, Bowie decided to move to Coahuila y Texas, at that time a state in the Mexican federation.  The 1824 Constitution of Mexico banned religions other than Roman Catholicism and gave preference to Mexican citizens in receiving land.  Bowie was baptized into the Roman Catholic faith in San Antonio on April 28, 1828, sponsored by the alcalde (chief administrator) of the town, Juan Martín de Veramendi, and the wife of the administrator, Josefa Navarro.
 For the next 18 months, Bowie traveled through Louisiana and Mississippi. In 1829, he became engaged to Cecilia Wells, who died in Alexandria, on September 29, two weeks before they were to be married.  
2 Battle of Concepción
On October 22, Austin asked Bowie, now a colonel in the volunteer militia, and James W. Fannin to scout the area around the missions of San Francisco de la Espada and San José y San Miguel de Aguayo to find supplies for the volunteer forces.  The scouting party left with 92 men, many of them members of the New Orleans Grays who had just arrived in Texas.
After discovering a good defensive position near Mission Concepción, the group requested that Austin's army join them. 
In response to Andrew Jackson's plea for volunteers to fight the British in the War of 1812, James and Rezin enlisted in the Louisiana militia in late 1814. The Bowie brothers arrived in New Orleans too late to participate in the fighting.  After mustering out of the militia, Bowie settled in Rapides Parish,   where he supported himself by sawing planks and lumber and floating them down the bayou for sale.
  In June 1819, he joined the Long Expedition, an effort to liberate Texas from Spanish rule.   The group encountered little resistance and, after capturing Nacogdoches, declared Texas an independent republic. The extent of Bowie's participation is unclear, but he returned to Louisiana before the invasion was repelled by Spanish troops.
  Land speculator
At Bowie's request Crockett and several others carried the cot over the line, leaving Rose alone on the other side.  After its publication, several other eyewitnesses confirmed the account,   but as Rose was deceased the story can only be authenticated by the word of the reporter, who admitted to embellishing other articles, "and thus many historians refuse to believe it. "  Shortly after Bowie left San Antonio, Ben Milam led an assault on the city.
In the ensuing fighting, the Texians suffered only a few casualties including Miliam, while the Mexican army lost many troops to death and desertion. Cós surrendered and returned to Mexico, taking with him the last Mexican troops in Texas. Believing the war was over, many of the Texian volunteers left the army and returned to their families.
 In early January 1836, Bowie went to San Felipe and asked the council to allow him to recruit a regiment. He again was turned down as he "was not an officer of the government nor army. "  Battle of the Alamo
After learning that Santa Anna had 4,500 troops and was heading for the city,  Bowie wrote several letters to the provisional government asking for help in defending the Alamo, especially "men, money, rifles, and cannon powder".  In another letter, to Governor Smith, he reiterated his view that "the salvation of Texas depends in great measure on keeping Béxar out of the hands of the enemy. It serves as the frontier picquet guard, and if it were in the possession of Santa Anna, there is no stronghold from which to repel him in his march toward the Sabine.
"  The letter to Smith ended, "Colonel Neill and myself have come to the solemn resolution that we will rather die in these ditches than give it up to the enemy. " 
When Bowie's mother was informed of his death, she calmly stated, "I'll wager no wounds were found in his back. "  Various eyewitnesses to the battle gave conflicting accounts of Bowie's death. A newspaper article claimed that a Mexican soldier saw Bowie carried from his room on his cot, alive, after the conclusion of the battle.
The soldier maintained that Bowie verbally castigated a Mexican officer in fluent Spanish, and the officer ordered Bowie's tongue cut out and his still-breathing body thrown onto the funeral pyre. This account has been disputed by numerous other witnesses, and it is thought to have been invented by the reporter.  Other witnesses maintained that they saw several Mexican soldiers enter Bowie's room, bayonet him, and carry him, alive, from the room.
 Various other stories circulated, with some witnesses claiming that Bowie shot himself and others saying he was killed by soldiers while too weak to lift his head.  Alcalde Ruiz said that Bowie was found "dead in his bed. "  According to Wallace O Chariton, the "most popular, and probably the most accurate"  version is that Bowie died on his cot, "back braced against the wall, and using his pistols and his famous knife.
"  One year after the battle, Juan Seguin returned to the Alamo and gathered the remaining ashes from the funeral pyre. He placed these in a coffin inscribed with the names of Bowie, Travis, and Crockett. The ashes were interred at the Cathedral of San Fernando.
 Legacy Antonio López de Santa Anna, president of Mexico, led the Mexican Army into Texas.
 On April 25, 1831, Bowie married nineteen-year-old Maria Ursula de Veramendi, the daughter of his business partner, who had become the vice governor of the province. Several days before the ceremony, he signed a dowry contract promising to pay his new bride 15,000 pesos (approximately $15,000 then, or $353,000 today ) in cash or property within two years of the marriage. At the time, Bowie claimed to have a net worth of $223,000 ($5,250,000 today), mostly in land of questionable title.
Bowie also lied about his age, claiming to be 30 rather than 35.  The couple built a house in San Antonio on land Veramendi had given them near the San José Mission. After a short time, however, they moved into the Veramendi Palace, living with Ursula's parents, who supplied them with spending money.
 The couple had two children, Marie Elve (b. March 20, 1832) and James Veramendi (b.
, James Bowie, Handbook of Texas , retrieved 2007-10-06
Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press.
History of the North Mexican States.
"Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.