Jim Bowie Signed Pay OrderJames "Jim" Bowie Pay Order Signed. One page, 7.75" x 3" (height varies), Natchez [Mississippi], March 10, 1829. Angus McNeill (1806-1882) first met James Bowie in 1826 while he was a planter in Natchez, Mississippi (where Jim Bowie first made a name for himself as a knife fighter during the 1827 Vidalia Sandbar Fight). The two men soon became friends as well as business associates. In 1829, Bowie had this order drawn up, which reads, in full: "Mr. L. Hughes Sir You will please pay Mr. Angus McNeill One Hundred and Thirty four Dollars and oblige Your." He has placed his bold signature and ornate paraph at lower right. Smoothed folds; unevenly toned, more heavily along the right. Several very light spots of foxing scattered throughout. Text is bold and very bright. Housed in an elegant, maroon leather bound portfolio with gilt border measuring 11.5" x 14.25". James Bowie signed items are extremely uncommon.
Before he met McNeill, Bowie had lived in Louisiana where he was involved in slave smuggling and a large land theft scheme involving forged land grants. Though he made money in these nefarious ventures, it all started to disappear by 1821, when creditors began taking him to court for unpaid debts. Bowie continued to dabble in land speculation with his brothers, Rezin and Stephen, establishing the 1,800 acre sugar plantation of Arcadia near Thibodaux, Louisiana.
Bowie moved to Texas permanently on January 1, 1830, and became involved in new land speculation schemes. One involved Bowie deceitfully profiting from an 1828 Mexican law granting Texas land to citizens, arousing the ire of empresario Stephen F. Austin. Later that year, he became a Mexican citizen and a Roman Catholic, all with the understanding that he would establish cotton and wool mills in Coahuila. Through McNeill, Bowie bought textile machinery for $20,000, liquidating the remainder of his assets in Louisiana.
The following year he married Ursula de Veramendi, the daughter of his sponsor, Juan Martín de Veramendi, one of many wealthy Mexicans that Bowie had become acquainted with. It was in the home of McNeill that Bowie, in 1833, himself lying on the brink of death with yellow fever, learned of the deaths of Ursula and her two young children back in Texas.
Bowie returned to Texas and led troops during the Texas Revolution, taking part in the Battle of Concepción and the Grass Fight. He died on March 6, 1836, during the defense of the Alamo, assuring his place in the pantheon of Texas heroes.
McNeill accompanied Bowie to Texas in 1835, having been accepted as a colonist in the failed Vehlein grant. Due to his knowledge of Texas, he was appointed by the citizens of Natchez to a committee to aid Mississippians serving in the Texan army. A resident of Houston into the 1840s, McNeill joined the First Regiment, Texas Mounted Rifles, in 1846 and served six months during the Mexican War. He continued his military service during the Civil War as a private in the Twenty-Second Brigade, Texas State Troops. He died at Eagle Lake in 1882.
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