Jim Bowie Oak
Backstory and Context
The Jim Bowie Oak Tree, located across from the St. Landry Parish Courthouse, is a living tree that exists to honor the famous pioneer James “Jim” Bowie. The tree is over 300 years old and was declared a historical monument in 2015 by the National Park Service. Bowie lived near the tree, but it is still unclear which neighboring building he actually lived in. Both buildings were named “The Jim Bowie House” at some point, but today neither is labeled as that. Behind the Jim Bowie Oak sits the Jim Bowie Courtyard. The courtyard is in between the two houses that were previously dubbed the Jim Bowie House. This is a small barren yard that only contains the sign that titles the area. This area may have had some significance in the past, but now it is empty and blocked off.
Jim Bowie took part in the great “Sandbar Fight" in Louisiana. On September 19, 1827, two men agreed to a duel and each brought along his own supporters. In this duel, neither killed the other, because both missed when they fired their guns. After this, the supporters of the two men broke out into a brawl, and Bowie was involved in the fight. In this conflict, Bowie was stabbed with a sword and shot three times, but he managed to kill one of his opponents with his massive “bowie knife.” It is still unknown whether the bowie knife was created by him or his brother Rezin.
Bowie and Rezin also smuggled slaves into the U.S. to earn money from slave auctions. They had schemes to claim free land by falsifying French and Spanish documents that stated that the brothers claimed land in Louisiana. They later bought and improved a sugar plantation in Louisiana.
Bowie was a crucial part of the Texas Revolution. He led Texan forces in early engagements with Mexican troops in 1835. Bowie held the rank of colonel in the Texas army and was involved in strategical planning for the Texans. He later arrived in San Antonio where he decided to fortify and defend the Alamo against orders.
Bowie was most known for his participation in the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. Bowie had grown ill weeks before the battle. He died when the Mexican forces launched their final attack on March 6, 1836. Bowie was most likely fighting alcoholic pneumonia while he was bed-ridden at the Alamo, but legend states that he fought the Mexicans from his bed and shot many of them as they entered the Alamo.
The Jim Bowie Oak is a perfect site to remember a legendary American hero who lost his life at the Alamo. He may have been a con artist and an alcoholic, but he lived a very interesting life during his adventures in Louisiana and Texas.
 “Jim Bowie Live Oak.” Statues of Historic Figures on Waymarking.com. Accessed February 20, 2019. http//www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM6VQE_Jim_Bowie_Live_Oak.
 U.S. Department of the Interior. National Forest Service. “Jim Bowie Oak Public Marker” Public Marker
 Christopher Minister. "Biography of James 'Jim' Bowie, American Frontiersman." Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.thoughtco.com/biography-of-jim-bowie-2136241.
 PBS. Accessed March 21, 2019. Biographies: James Bowie. https://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/biographies/james_bowie.html.
 "The Mysterious Illness of Jim Bowie: How Did He Contribute to His Own Decline?". DailyHistory.org. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://dailyhistory.org/The_Mysterious_Illness_of_Jim_Bowie:_How_Did_He_Contribute_to_His_Own_Decli...?
"Jim Bowie Live Oak." Sybil Ludington - Carmel, NY - Statues of Historic Figures on Waymarking.com. Accessed February 20, 2019. http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM6VQE_Jim_Bowie_Live_Oak.
Minster, Christopher. "Biography of James 'Jim' Bowie, American Frontiersman." Thoughtco. February 15, 2019. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.thoughtco.com/biography-of-jim-bowie-2136241.
"The Mysterious Illness of Jim Bowie: How Did He Contribute to His Own Decline?" How Did Public Sanitation Develop? - DailyHistory.org. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://dailyhistory.org/The_Mysterious_Illness_of_Jim_Bowie:_How_Did_He_Contribute_to_His_Own_Decline?
PBS. Accessed March 21, 2019. https://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/biographies/james_bowie.html.
U.S. Department of the Interior. National Forest Service. “Jim Bowie Oak Public Marker” Public Marker