I am showing my ignorance here but can someone tell me who exactly
Chief Bowles is? I joined the Bowles list because my
great-grandmother was a Bowles. I was always told that Grandmother
Rachel was part indian. I have never heard of Chief Bowles until I
joined this list. Sarah Jane Bowles married Jesse Feathers and their
daughter, Rachel Feathers is my Grandmother. Sarah's parents were
George D. Bowles who married Leah (last name unknown). First found
them in Iredell County, NC, then Washington Co., TN. Thanks.
I'm glad you're jumping in and asking questions.
And glad, too, that you're climbing into the boat with those of us
who have some Indian blood in our heritage. We need all the company and
helping cousins we can get! Generally, it's extremely difficult to track
down just what that heritage really is, through tracing documents. Most of
us who've been told that we're Indian carry a wisp of a family story, that
we're related to some Indians, "way back there."
Some of us will get lucky and will find our families listed in
various government censuses that were taken primarily in the last century,
but most of us will have to go the long and rocky route. And then we may
never find any paper at all that confirms our heritage; we may have to be
content with the little clues that we started out with.
Chief John Bowles, or Bowl, or Diwali, or Duwali, was born in 1756.
Some of the more popular accounts say that he came from North Carolina.
Just last month I read another clue, written by someone who knew his
family, and this clue said simply, that Col. Bowles was "a Marylander."
Now I don't know if he lived in Maryland for quite a while, and considered
his early home to be there, or if others had known that he'd lived there
once and it got recorded that way...or what. This is just more of the mix
that we have to find out about.
Some scholars think that Chief Bowles was Cherokee, and others say
he was Creek. The Creeks and the Cherokees often lived and traveled
together, so it can be hard to know.
What we do know is that he traveled from the eastern seaboard,
lived in TN and AR and MO, and then settled in an area near Dallas. The
indigenous people who were there first weren't happy about his encampment
being there, and they encouraged him to settle closer to the TX/LA border
area. Chief Bowles and his people lived in east Texas for twenty years or
more, before he was killed and they were run out. The counties we look at
are Anderson, Cherokee, Henderson, Kaufman, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rusk,
Shelby, Smith, Van Zandt---that general area in TX.
Later on, I'll look up the areas that he lived in in MO and AR and
TN, and I'll be talking about that, but I'm giving you the very short
Chief Bowles became very famous in TX history because without his
group of warriors, TX history might have turned out much differently. TX
settlers, before the area joined the United States, were besieged on two
fronts: by the Mexicans and the Indians. Sam Houston, a friend of Chief
Bowles, negotiated with him and his men, asking them to fight with the
settlers and the U. S. military---which they did. So having to fight on
only one front, the settlers overcame the Mexicans, and TX became a part of
Chief Bowles negotiated a treaty with the Texans, and was promised
that he and his people could live in peace in east Texas. When Houston
left office, and Lamar became governor, Lamar ordered the military to drive
the Indians off their land. The old story: the settlers wanted the land
the Indians were on, so out they went. Chief Bowles and his son were
killed. His people scattered, and here we are 160 years later, trying to
piece the families back together again.
You mention the surname "Feathers." That's been one of the
surnames discussed on a Cherokee list that I'm on. So in order to find out
what the discussion has been about that name, you might go to the Rootsweb
Find this, then fill in the slot with this:
When the page comes up, type in the word Feathers and see
what you get.
While I'm at it, I want to answer a question that flew past me.
I'd mentioned that a surname was an old Cherokee name. Someone asked what
I have to say that I was using the phrase "old Cherokee name" very
loosely. What I meant was that if you spend a few years reading books and
articles on Cherokees, you can see patterns in the surnames that appear.
When a particular surname comes up now, I might recognize it as being one
I've read in Cherokee materials many times. If you read anything on
Cherokee history, surnames like Fields, Rogers, and Adair will come up
repeatedly. That's all I meant...
In a little while, I'll be getting my Indian materials together and
sharing them with whoever wants them. We'd be more than happy to have you
join us, as we look over the various paths and clues that might lead us to
our Native American ancestors.