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    William Oldham is given possession of "the Estate of James Bowie Deceased"

    [James "Jim" Bowie] William Oldham Document Signed authorizing Oldham to take control of the estate of James Bowie. One page, 8.5" x 13.5", April 18, 1836, "Department of Brazos Jurisdiction of Washington." In part: "Personally appeared William Oldham and Samuel Seward acknowledged themselves Jointly and Severally Bound . . . in the panel sum of two thousand Dollars Conditioned as viz. Whereas the said William Oldham hath this day been Authorised to take into possession all the Estate of James Bowie Deceased. Now therefore if the said William Oldham shall take into possession the said Estate and tender a just Account of the saim [sic] as the law may derect [sic] before such tribunal as may have recognizance."

    Shortly after James Bowie's death at the Alamo on March 6, 1836, his family began to settle his estate, which was surprisingly small, despite Bowie's talent early in life at raising quick cash through land theft schemes and illegal slave trading in Louisiana. Since those early years, Bowie had lost much of his wealth and property to creditors in court. Still, after his death, Bowie's family petitioned for over $6,000 from the Texas government as payment for cattle provided by Bowie for James Fannin's troops. The "Said Estate" mentioned in this document likely included part (or all) of Bowie's headright grant.

    William Oldham was also a participant in the Texas Revolution, fighting at the siege of Bexar in December 1835 and, after this document was written, serving in the Texas Cavalry. Beginning in 1837, Oldham purchased land near the Brazos River, eventually becoming one of the wealthiest men in the area. Oldham never officially married, but it is thought that he treated a beautiful slave, the mother of his six children, like a wife. Oldham's signature on this document is faded and some separation exists along folds, partially repaired with tape. The document exhibits moderate wrinkling with slight soiling. Docketing on the verso reads, "Authorisation/ Wm. Oldham/ To take/ The Estate of/ James Bowey/ Filed April 18, 1836". Mended on verso with archival tape. Very good condition.

    Reference: William C. Davis, Three Roads to the Alamo (New York: HarperPerennial, 1999).

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2009
    21st Saturday
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