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    Jim Bowie is taken to court in Louisiana

    [James "Jim" Bowie] Louisiana Legal Filing. Three pages, 12.5" x 7.75", January 21, 1822, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, regarding the case of McLanaham and Bogart v. James Bowie for a debt of $339 which Stephen Bowie, brother of James, was to pay. According to this legal document, if Stephen could not pay the money, his personal property was to be seized, though not his slaves or land. But if he did not have enough personal property to pay the debt, his slaves and Bayou Boeuf real estate could then be seized. The document reads in part: "To the sheriff of the parish of Avoyelles-Greetings. We command you that you demand from Stephen Bowie principle obligor and Joseph Burton as security the sum of Three Hundred and thirty nine dollars with interest at 10 pr. cent per annum from the 13th day of January 1821 until paid. It being the amount of a bond entered into by the said Bowie and Burton for property seized and sold under our execution directed from the 6th District Court in and for the parish of Avoyelles in favour of McLanahan & Bogart; and if they shall not pay the same on demand, that then you cause the said sum to be made out of the personal estate of the said Bowie & Burton except of slaves in your parish, if sufficient personal estate, exclusive of slaves, can be found therein but if sufficient personal estate of the said Bowie & Burton exclusive of slaves cannot be found in your parish, that then you cause the said sum to be made of the real estate and slaves of the said Bowie & Burton in your said parish whereof they may be owners and whereof the principle was owner on the nineteenth day of October 1820 in whose hands soever the same may have come. . . . Witness the Honorable William Murray Judge of said Court."

    According to the verso of the document, Stephen Bowie did not have enough money or personal property to pay the debt, so on March 13, James Cleavlan, the sheriff of Avoyelles Parish, "seized a tract of Land on Bayou Boeuf . . . & advertised the same for sale according to Law when the day of sale arrived an unavoidable absence of duty prevented and it was again advertised 30 days to be sold on the 13th day of May 1822."

    Seven years earlier in 1815, James Bowie began carving out a plantation in the thick wilderness of central Louisiana along Bayou Boeuf. He soon found an opportunity to make more money with less hard work by smuggling slaves into Louisiana, disregarding the ten year old law banning the importation of slaves into the U.S. and its territories. Bowie raised some quick cash in 1818 to invest in his slave smuggling scheme by selling his 480 acre plantation to his younger brother Stephen, whose wife was expecting their first child. Around this time, James, who continued to live at the Bayou Boeuf plantation with his brother, also became involved in a large land theft scheme involving forged land grants. Even though he made money in these nefarious ventures, it was all gone by early 1821, when creditors, including McLanaham and Bogart, began taking James Bowie to court for unpaid debts. This document is age-toned and brittle, with separation along some folds. Good.

    Also included is another legal document, one page, 7.5" x 12.5", October 10, 1842, "State of Louisiana/ 6th District Court, Parish of Avoyelles", concerning the case of Heirs of Pierre Leglise v. E. L. Briggs & D. T. Orr. Docketing on verso. Brittle with complete separation along one fold; else good.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2009
    21st Saturday
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