In his article to The Bossier Banner Progress on January 29, 1976 Rupert Peyton told of James Bowie’s visits to northwest Louisiana and Arkansas.
“James Bowie, the great hero of the battle of the Alamo, who died there in 1838, was often a visitor to this region, and his maternal uncle was one of the earliest settlers of northwest Louisiana, establishing his home here in 1831, in what is now northern Webster Parish, near the present town of Springhill. It was then a part of Claiborne Parish which was created in 1827 from the original boundaries of Natchitoches Parish. Claiborne then extended to Red River. Bossier Parish was created in 1843 and originally extended eastward to Dorcheat and Claiborne’s western border. Bossier then took in part of that part of Webster, created during the Reconstruction in 1871.”
“Bowie’s mother was Polly O’Neal, a sister of Harry O’Neal, [an] early settler of northwest Louisiana. His son was one of the early sheriffs of Bossier Parish and was the ancestor of several prominent citizens now living in Shreveport.”
“Bowie visited his uncle and relatives and often made trips to old Washington, Arkansas before his death at the battle of the Alamo. Actually he was a native of Mississippi, lived in New Orleans, Natchez and other places. He was very migrant and established fame as a duelist. It was at Washington, Arkansas, that he met the metal smith who fashioned his famous weapon, the Bowie Knife. The metal smith made a beautiful weapon for Bowie. It had a keen blade and his name was engraved on the silver handle.”
“At that time the route of travel from Natchitoches Parish extended from near Campti and followed the east side of Red River to Washington, then one of the important trading posts in Arkansas.”
“Some years before his death Bowie was returning by stage coach from Washington, Arkansas, planning to visit his relatives in Bossier. One of the inns on this stagecoach line was Glover’s Tavern, established in 1827 by Elisha Glover. It was situated on Glover’s hill, just north of Plain Dealing and near the present Dogwood Drive. Bowie’s name often appeared on the tavern’s register.”
“On one of his trips the coach was crowded and a woman boarded it but could find no seat in the crowded vehicle. Several men were standing, including Bowie. However, one important looking gentleman kept his seat. Bowie remonstrated with this man, who became so angered that Bowie demanded he give his seat to the lady that he handed Bowie his card, indicating a challenge to a duel. Bowie in turn handed the man his silver engraved knife. Knowing of his fame as a duelist the unidentified man got so frightened that he got off at the next stop.”
“A witness to this incident was John P. Davis, a cousin of Jefferson Davis, who was emigrating from Maryland. Davis got off at Glover’s Tavern and so did Bowie. Davis later acquired an estate just north of the tavern in what is now known as the community of Lelah.” Peyton goes on to say that he was told of this incident by Andrew Davis, a descendant of the Davis who witnessed it.
“A grandson of Harry O’Neal, Bowie’s uncle, was the late B. F. O’Neal, a prominent Shreveport real estate man. He has several other descendants living there.”