Cherokee Indian Chief Bowles (Duwali) and his Tragic Quest for Land

Chief Bowles (Duwali)

Chief Bowles (Duwali)

Cherokee Indian Chief Duwali or Di’Wali, also known as John Bowles or Bowl, was born around 1756, possibly in North Carolina. He is thought to have been the son of a Scotch or Scotch-Irish trader and a Cherokee woman. It is claimed that Bowles’ father was killed by white settlers when Bowles was a boy, and that the son killed his father’s murderers in revenge when he was 14. Bowles never learned how to read or write, and could not speak English. Late in his life, he was described as being “somewhat tanned in color,” and having “neither the hair nor the eyes of an Indian. His eyes were gray, his hair was of a dirty sandy color; and his was an English head.” (1)

Early life

In 1792, John Bowles became chief of the Chickamauga tribe of Cherokees in the town of Running Water (now Whiteside), Tennessee. Two years later, Bowles was involved in a murderous altercation with some white men, known as the Muscle Shoals massacre. Bowles and his warriors fled up the St. Francis River to southeastern Missouri, where they were joined by other Cherokees. They lived in the St. Francis valley until 1811, when the area was struck by a large earthquake. Taking this as a sign from the Great Spirit to leave the area, the tribe moved into territory between the Arkansas and White Rivers in present-day Arkansas. Unfortunately, Bowles settled on land that was not part of the territory retained by the Cherokees in treaties signed with the United States in 1817 and 1819. He had to move again.

Move to Texas

In the winter of 1819-20, Chief Bowles, along with sixty of his men and their families, journeyed to Texas, which was then part of Mexico and under Spanish rule. They eventually settled about fifty miles north of Nacogdoches, in land traditionally populated by the Caddo tribe (see my post about Dehahuit). They were soon joined by other Cherokees. A Mexican census taker reported in 1821 that the Caddos “are rivals of the Cherokees; they were jealous of the influence that these were going to acquire; and in all their conversations with the Mexicans, they manifest their disgust at the introduction of foreign savages.” (2) Horse thefts and revenge killings kept the two bands on the verge of war for at least a decade. This is the environment in which Napoleon smokes the peace pipe with Bowles in Napoleon in America.

Bowles shared leadership of the Texas Cherokees with Richard Fields, another less than full-blooded Native American who served as the tribe’s diplomatic chief. Though the Cherokees had permits from Spanish officials allowing them to live in Texas, they did not own their land. After Mexico achieved its independence, Fields led a Cherokee delegation to the provincial capital, San Antonio, seeking a land grant from Mexican officials. Texas Governor José Félix Trespalacios proved sympathetic. In November 1822 he signed an agreement that allowed the Cherokees to remain on their land in exchange for guarding against American incursions and smuggling. Trespalacios wrote to the area’s commandant:

The Cherokee Nation, according to their statement, numbers fifteen thousand souls; but there are within the borders of Texas only one hundred warriors and two hundred women and children. They work for their living, and dress in cotton-cloth, which they themselves manufacture. They raise cattle and horses and use firearms. Many of them understand the English language. In my opinion, they ought to be useful to the Province, for they immediately became subject to its laws, and I believe will succeed in putting a stop to carrying stolen animals to the United States, and in arresting those evil-doers that infest the roads. (3)

Trespalacios gave Fields and five other Cherokees permission to travel to Mexico City to request written title to their land from Mexican Emperor Agustín de Iturbide. Soon after their arrival, Iturbide was overthrown. Although the new Mexican government gave a vague verbal promise to uphold the treaty signed with Trespalacios, the Cherokee delegation had to return to Texas without written title.

In 1825, American empresario Haden Edwards was granted land that included territory claimed by the Cherokees. Fields supported Edwards’ efforts to secede from Mexico and form a separate Republic of Fredonia, based on an agreement that land would be divided between the Native Americans and the Anglo-Americans. Bowles doubted Fields’ judgement and refused to take part in the uprising. After the rebellion collapsed in 1827, he and other Cherokee leaders had Fields executed for putting the tribe at risk.

Chief Bowles continued to seek title to Cherokee land, without success. An 1833 petition addressed to the Secretary of State of Coahuila and Texas noted:

The tribe at present numbers about 150 families, the total number of persons being about 800. The property of the Cherokees, consisting of about 3,000 head of cattle; about the same number of hogs and 500 or 600 horses. The subscribers inform you that the said tribe lives chiefly by tilling the soil and raising cattle. (4)

The Texas Revolution: Hopes raised and dashed

Map showing the territory in Texas set aside for the Cherokees according to an 1836 treaty. Source: Albert Woldert, “The Last of the Cherokees in Texas, and the Life and Death of Chief Bowles,” Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 1, No. 3 (June 1923).

Map showing the territory in Texas set aside for the Cherokees according to an 1836 treaty. Source: Albert Woldert, “The Last of the Cherokees in Texas, and the Life and Death of Chief Bowles,” Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 1, No. 3 (June 1923).

When the Texas Revolution began in 1835, both the Mexicans and the Texans sought to draw the Cherokees to their side, or at least keep them neutral. In February 1836, Texan General Sam Houston signed a treaty with the Cherokees that promised them land between the upper Sabine, Angelina and Neches Rivers, an area smaller than they actually occupied. Two months later, Texas won its independence from Mexico.

Although Houston became president of the Republic of Texas, the Texas senate refused to ratify his treaty with the Cherokees. Mexican agents promised the Cherokees land and plunder if they would attack the Texans. Though Chief Bowles tried to maintain good relations with both the Mexicans and the Texans, a strong pro-Mexico faction arose among his people. In 1838, the Texans captured papers that compromised Bowles and other Cherokee chiefs. Later that year, a band of Cherokee warriors massacred a group of white Texan settlers. When Mirabeau B. Lamar became president of Texas, he ordered the Cherokees out. They were instructed to move north of the Red River, to Indian Territory in the United States, “peaceably if they would, by compulsion if they must.” (5)

John H. Reagan, who was present when Chief Bowles gave his response to Lamar’s message, writes:

Bowles stated that his young men were for war, and that they believed that they could whip the whites. He said all the council was for war except himself and Big Mush, one of his chiefs. He said he knew that in the end the whites would whip them, but, he added, ‘It will cost you a bloody frontier war for ten years.’ ….

Bowles asked time for his people to make and gather their crops, but was informed by [the Indian agent] Mr. Lacy that he had no authority to act outside of the letter of the President. Bowles said if he fought, the whites would kill him; and if he refused to fight, his own people would kill him. He added that to him personally it mattered little, that he was eighty-three years old, and by the laws of nature could live but little longer; but that he felt a great interest in the future of his wives (he had three of them) and his children. His tribe, he said, had always been true to him, and though he differed with them in opinion, he would stand by them. The council ended with the understanding that war was to follow. (6)

The Battle of the Neches, which pitted about 500 Texans against 800 Native Americans, took place on July 15 and 16, 1839, between present-day Tyler and Ben Wheeler, Texas. Reagan, who fought on the Texan side, provides this account:

Chief Bowles displayed great courage in these battles. In the second engagement he remained on the field on horseback, wearing a military hat, silk vest, and handsome sword and sash which had been presented to him by President Houston. He was a magnificent picture of barbaric manhood and was very conspicuous during the whole battle, being the last to leave the field when the Indians retreated. His horse, however, was now disabled, and he dismounted, after having been wounded himself. As he walked away he was shot in the back and fell. Then, as he sat up with his face toward us, I started to him with a view to secure his surrender. At the same time my captain, Bob Smith, with a pistol in his hand, ran toward him from farther down the line. We reached him at the same instant, and realizing what was imminent, I called, ‘Captain, don’t shoot him.’ But he fired, striking Bowles in the head, and killing him instantly. (7)

Chief John Bowles (Duwali) died on July 16, 1839. His body was left on the battlefield. In 1936, a marker to Chief Bowles’ memory was placed on a plain above the Neches River about 13 miles west of Tyler, Texas. The inscription reads: “On this site the Cherokee Chief Bowles was killed on July 16, 1839 while leading 500 Indians of various tribes against 500 Texans – the last engagement between Cherokees and whites in Texas.” You can see photos of the site on Paul Ridenour’s website. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission website provides an image and transcription of a letter Bowles sent to Sam Houston, dated August 16, 1836.

You might also enjoy:

Caddo Indian Chief Dehahuit

The Karankawa Indians of Texas

Texas Governor José Félix Trespalacios

Indian Interpreter Gaspard Philibert

Frontier Colonel James B. Many

Texas Entrepreneur Ben Milam

Jim Bowie before the “Gaudy Legend”

When the Great Plains Indians met President Monroe

  1. John H. Reagan, Memoirs with Special Reference to Secession and the Civil War, edited by Walter Flavius McCaleb (New York and Washington, 1906), p. 35.
  2. David LaVere, The Texas Indians (College Station, 2004), p. 165.
  3. Emmet Starr, History of the Cherokee Indians and Their Legends and Folk Lore (Oklahoma City, 1921), pp. 189-190.
  4. Albert Woldert, “The Last of the Cherokees in Texas, and the Life and Death of Chief Bowles,” Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 1, No. 3 (June 1923), p. 192.
  5. Memoirs with Special Reference to Secession and the Civil War, p. 29.
  6. Ibid., pp. 30-32.
  7. Ibid., p. 34.

95 commments on “Cherokee Indian Chief Bowles (Duwali) and his Tragic Quest for Land”

  • Buddy johnson says:

    My sister owns the original maps. I currently have them. I can send pictures

  • Judith Lindsey says:

    I found this very interesting. My maiden name is Bowles, wonder if I could be a descendent

  • Shannon Selin says:

    Thanks, John. It’s good to hear from you.

  • Lyn Schive says:

    I am a descendant of Chief Bowles! My Aunt has done the research!

  • Richard Rogers says:

    My great grandfather was W.G.W. Jowers, he was a member of the group along with Martin Lacy attempting to secure a peaceful move by Chief Bowles and his tribe. He was additionally married to Lacy’s daughter and was present at the final battle.

  • Cindi monaco says:

    this is my ancestor

  • Robin says:

    We are also descendants of Chief Bowles. My maiden name is Robin Boles.

  • Sarah Reid says:

    This is my great-great-great-great grandfather. Awesome to see an article written about him. Thank you for this!

  • RD Boardman says:

    Hi Shannon!

    I too am related to Chief Bowles. I’m trying to figure out his specific family make-up as he appears to have had many wives and children. Do you have any records (marriage/birth/death) of his family? Specifically, I have through that one of his wives was Oo Yo Sti Otiyu and they had a child named Rayetaeh Utisdgata Onitostah Utisdasta but just like so many of his wives and children, i can’t find any records to back up the dates. I’ve also looked through but can’t find any sources/records. Do you have any or know where you found them? Thanks so much!

  • Shannon Selin says:

    Hi RD, Nice to hear from you. There’s a list of wives and descendants of Chief Bowles on, though I don’t know how complete it is: I don’t have any marriage, birth or death records for the family, and I’m not sure where to find them. Maybe someone reading this post will know and can leave a comment. Good luck with your search!

  • Cindi Monaco says:

    Joseph Farrell Bowles Is My Grandfather

  • Shannon Selin says:

    Thanks, Cindi.

  • Freda Cruse Hardison says:

    John Watts was born to John Forked Tongue Watts and Ghingoneli Bowles. When he was 11 he killed the men who killed his Scottish grandfather John Knight Bowles. He took his name. He was called Duwali by the Osage. Their word for “bowl”. He lived on the St Francis River in lower Arkansas near Parkin moving to the middle White River at Sylamore in 1811. He is not the John Watts nor John Bowles found in Missouri. …Freda Cruse Hardison, early Arkansas historian and genealogist

  • Shannon Selin says:

    Thank you very much for these details about Chief Bowles’s parents, his early life and his time on the St. Francis River, Freda.

  • Dave Hannum says:

    I really found this helpful, John’s a direct descendant of mine thru my mother and grandmother. I am trying to put together enough info to get creds to show my hertitage. Can you steer me in the right direction?

  • Shannon Selin says:

    This genealogy page provides some information, Dave: Good luck with your search.

  • Michael boles says:

    My name is Michael Boles me and my fiance have been doing research on Chief Boles and it looks like I am a descendent of Chief Boles or long distance relative. If you have any more information on this family please feel free to contact me.

  • Shannon Selin says:

    Thanks, Michael.

  • Melaine Sanchez says:

    My family happen to be descendents to Chief Bowles as well. My Great Grandma was Lottie Marie Bowles. Amazing how many others there are!!!! Thank you for sharing.

  • Shannon Selin says:

    You’re welcome, Melaine. It’s wonderful to hear from so many of Chief Bowles’ descendants!

  • Sharon Bennett says:

    Greetings: I’m trying to find more of the Cherokee connection for my family, father’s side. I’m from San Antonio, TX. There are 2- one Blackfoot from Kentucky & the other Cherokee, from then known as Sandis, TX (between San Antonio & Houston, TX). I believe them both to be Cherokee. I’m frustrated and at an impasse. Thank you so very much. My Great Grandmothers….
    [Maternal] Maggie (Babe) Brown dob: 1875, married Joe Parson dob 1872 in Sandis, TX. Maggie’s parents: Austin Brown (male Cherokee Texas) & Fannie Francis Vinson (German Great Grandmother).
    [Paternal] Hattie Worthy dob unk, married John Bennett dob 1829 – death 1936 of Sandis, TX. He definitely came from Kentucky (Gray or Flennard Family) when sold to Bennett’s in Texas.

  • Shannon Selin says:

    Hi Sharon, I haven’t come across these names. Perhaps someone else has and will leave a comment. Good luck with your search.

  • Steve Hay says:

    According to research completed by my Aunt and 1st cousin, Chief Bowles is our 5th great grandfather. Interesting reading.

  • Jennifer says:

    Hi Shannon, I am the executive producer of a documentary-style show and I’m interested in doing a short doc on Chief Bowles. Do you know any Cherokee authors or scholars who are familiar with his story? Thanks

  • Myra Ruiz says:

    My great grandfather was Emmet Bowles, and my grandfather was Percy Bowles, of Seguin, TX. My mother is Leola Bowles, born in Kerrville, TX in 1936 to Percy and Guadalupe Bowles. They had a total of 8 living children.

  • Les Adkins says:

    I have been told by my family all my life I was a descendent of Chief Bowles. I was given a lineage of persons starting with a wife of his, who were married and had children, etc. all the way down to myself but I do not know how to substantiate this to verify it’s integrity. I can provide the info I have if anyone is interested. Thank you, Les Adkins

    • Shannon Selin says:

      Thanks, Les. If anyone wants to contact you they can leave a comment here and I’ll put them in touch with you privately.

  • Penney Douglas says:

    My family drove from Houston to see the marker for Chief Bowles near Tyler to honor his memory and to pray for his descendants. We could not find the marker there. There was a lot of destruction at the site. Two huge trees had fallen down with the big roots up out of the ground near the benches. We did see rocks with the names of the tribes engraved on them placed around the edges of the site. There was yellow tape around the fallen trees. I wondered if anyone was going to try to fix the monument.

  • Shannon Selin says:

    Oh my! What a shame, Penney. I certainly hope that someone will fix it.

  • pagie labrant says:

    My teacher is Chief Bowles a lot of greats grand daughter.

  • Tracy says:

    I own the land adjacent to the battle grounds of the Neches and if indeed Chief Bowles cursed the land upon his death I am feeling it. Myself and 2 other land owners feel we own something special but, having big problems selling with dispute with neighbor over access. We need the curse lifted. It is a beautiful 66 acres divided by the Neches bottom land. I envision this being a part of battle field. I have a crevice about 10 feet deep that stretches over 50 yards that would have made for artillery shelter. It’s amazing! Just wonder if it was used during battle.

  • Shannon Selin says:

    It sounds like a beautiful piece of land, Tracy. I wish you luck in selling it.

  • Jason Bowles says:

    My dads grandfathers name was Raymond Bowles, he lived in Pampa and was Cherokee. My dad was named after his grandad Raymond, which was suppose to be a descendant of Chief Bowles

  • Shannon Selin says:

    It’s nice to hear from you, Jason.

  • Luc says:

    Very interesting but what in hell is Napoleon doing in that savage land? Choose between history and novel.
    A French smile to you, sorry for my English.

    • Shannon Selin says:

      A Canadian smile back to you, Luc. Some of us enjoy both history and novels so much that we find it fun to explore the “what ifs” of alternate history.

  • Peggy says:

    According to my grandmother, I too am a descendant of Duwali, Chief Bowles. His son, John Bowles, had three children and they watched as he was killed on December 25, 1839 on the banks of the Colorado River. According to my great grandmother, Laura Crawley Miller, her grandmother was one of those children. Her grandmother and her sister and brother hid out in the bushes and saw their father killed. After they were captured with other survivors, the two girls were adopted but they never saw their brother again. They believed that he went north of the Red River to Oklahoma (Indian Territory.) I have so many questions, but so few answers. I do know according to the report of the Texas Rangers of December 25, 1839 that three children of John Bowles were indeed captured, but there is very little known except through the bloodline of the son. One of the girls was adopted and taken to Georgia where my great, great grandmother was born. In time they moved back to east Texas in the same area where Chief Bowles had lived. They left in the middle of the night because there had been some horse-stealing going on and they were accused, because they were not white, and they fled, fearing for their lives. They lived the rest of their lives around Smith County, Van Zandt County, and Henderson County — in the same area where Bowles’ group had lived. Some of the Vann family lived in the area too, as did other Cherokees who moved back to that area. This was only family history, because it would have still been dangerous at the time to talk about it much outside the family, as it was still in the 1800s and many folks still were suspicious and fearful of Indians. My great uncle, Eddie Chapin, said that a woman named Rachel Morris had had a written account of what had happened, but that when she died her family had gotten rid of all of her papers thinking they were unimportant. I have not been able to find any papers other than my grandmother’s markings on an article about Chief Bowles saying that he was our people. Have you heard anything from anyone else about the children of John Bowles, Jr? Fifty years ago my family and I went to the monument for Chief Bowles and I sent out letters to various people through the newspaper in Tyler, but I never heard anything difinitive except from a distant cousin who had heard the same thing about our genealogy. My great grandmother and grandmother and mother still held some of the old Cherokee superstitions and beliefs, which they passed down to me. The adopted daughters of John Bowles, Jr. had name changes, according to my great grandmother, not going by Bowles at any time, but taking the names of the families who adopted them. My great uncle was the keeper of family history and he always said never to forget the story. I just wonder if anyone out there has heard a similar story about John Bowles, Jr’s children and what happened to them.

  • Shannon Selin says:

    Thank you for adding these details to the Bowles’ family history, Peggy. Your great-grandmother’s story sounds plausible. How awful it must have been for those poor children to witness their father’s death. I haven’t heard from anyone else about what happened to the children of John Bowles, Jr. I’m hoping that someone reading these comments can provide you with more information.


    We are part of the Texas Cherokees and have established a tribal land 3 1/2 miles east of Troup, Texas, in Smith County. On October 19, 2019, we will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Texas Cherokees. Everyone is invited and for more information you may contact Ugu Ron Trussell at (254) 640-5916

  • Shannon Selin says:

    Thanks for posting this invitation, Brenda. It sounds like it will be a wonderful gathering.

  • Russell Madison Bowles "silver fox" my grandfather was "golden fox" aka Jack Herman Bowles says:

    Chief Bowles Father was from Hix Mtn , WV above Sandstone in Summers County
    The Lost Tribe disenfranchised from the
    Bloodblood English Bowles for taking Cherokee
    Wives ; We are still here
    Most sadly don’t know any of their Heritage
    Yes they were Scotts-English
    We are mentioned briefly in the Free Ebook in Google
    Play written by an English Historian Author
    Our County Officials refused to tell the Author Where
    We could be found nor given contact info for Us
    Note the Fox’s Still reside in Our County as well
    As we are Kin too still .
    The Families had a tendency to travel back & forth
    To NC in those earlier Days ; there is Still a Bowles
    Tribe of Cherokee in NC .
    My Grandfather Lived on & off a reservation there
    & later Remarried to Mary Bowles ; non humerus lyrics after divorcing my Grandmother Mary who was of
    The Woods Tribe .

  • Jenifer Groom says:

    Peggy, we have several Bowles, including a John Bowles in my family bible. Would love to touch base- my mom is trying to trace it back.

    • Shannon Selin says:

      Thanks, Jennifer. If Peggy gives permission, I can share her contact details with you privately.

  • Connie says:

    I am trying to track down Diwali’s siblings. My grandmother said her grandmother, Mary Bennett, was the sister of Chief Bowles but so far we cannot verify her claim. Does anyone know the names of his siblings or can you provide any additional information?

    • Shannon Selin says:

      Unfortunately I don’t know the names of Diwali’s siblings, Connie. I hope someone else does and can leave a comment that will help you.

  • Michael Hughes says:

    I have lived in nearby Kaufman county my whole life but only discovered the battlefield while George Bush was Governor. Being an avid student of history, I was compelled to check it out while working in the immediate area. I knew something was different when, after following weathered plywood signs with blue spray paint to the battlefield, next was the offerings left hanging in trees and whisky bottles at the bottom of the trees. I knew this was a special place. Thus began my acquaintance with Chief Bowles. I have since learned that the world is a small place. My family came from near Nashville Tennessee in the 1780s. John Ross, the Ridge, Doublehead were all familiar neighbors. I am awestruck by our journeys through history and amazed by the greatness that goes uncovered and unappreciated by so many. Thank God for you and your efforts to not just tell our history, but to lift it up, it’s our history for good or bad. We lived it, it’s ours.
    Thanks Again, Mike Hughes

    • Shannon Selin says:

      You’re welcome, Mike. I’m glad you found the article interesting, especially given your first-hand knowledge of the battlefield.

  • Lynda Findley says:

    Chief john Bowles is my 4th great grandfather. We think that he had a daughter or granddaughter named yranquilla . She married my 3rd great grandfather Levi William’s. We would like to know if tranquilla was kin to chief bowles.

    • Shannon Selin says:

      Nice to hear from you Lynda. I hope someone reading these comments will be able to answer your question.

  • Karla says:

    What are two VERY good things he did?

  • 1SG (Ret) Michael D. Willingham says:

    I have been told by my family all my life, from my Grandmother and Mother, that we are descendants of Chief Bowles. I have recently retired from the Military (Army) and I am taking this time to try and run down my families connection, if there is one. I was hoping someone one this thread could point me in the right direction.

  • Charles Cavanaugh Ph.D. says:

    This is such an amazing story. Chief Di’wali was my 6th great grandfather, father of Sophia Bear Hunter, and whose descendants are George W. Pierce, Robert A. Pierce, James M. Pierce, Martha Jane Pierce, Dollie Helpenstill (my grandmother), Bonita Davis, and finally me.

  • Margaret Mathie says:

    Enjoyed reading all the information that people had about their relationship to Chief Bowles/Boles.
    My maiden name is Boles.
    I am interested in the history of Chief Bowles to see if he is part of my family.

  • Kelli pape says:

    This i
    Was my g g g grandfather! Great story!! Thanks for posting

  • Charles matlock jr says:

    Can hi my name is Charles Matlock Jr. I was contacted by a lady several years ago stating that I was in relation to her and to Chief Bowles. I tried to contact her some time after I talked to her and could not get in contact with her. She was saying there was a family reunion but of course I was unable to attend. She said that she was my dad’s baby sister. I’m hoping if she is out there and reads this to contact me and if there is any family I can talk to. I’m interested in my family heritage. Also I enjoyed the post, thanks.

  • Shannon Selin says:

    Good to hear from you, Charles. I hope someone will get in touch with you through these comments.

  • Ali says:

    I am confused by a contradiction here: you say Chief Bowles never learned how to read or write, and couldn’t speak English. How, then, was he able to write the letter to Sam Houston, to which you provide a link? It’s possible, of course, that this was dictated to someone else, but it is also in English. Further, given the extensive relations between Bowles and the Texans, as well as his parentage, I would be very surprised to hear he didn’t speak any English at all. Could you please provide me with the source you used to make this statement? I work for a publishing company and we’re publishing Bowles’ letter; I want to ensure the historical information we have is accurate.

    • Shannon Selin says:

      Acccording to John H. Reagan, who was present when President Lamar’s message was read to Chief Bowles shortly before his death in 1839, “When we reached the residence of Bowles, he invited the agent, the interpreter, Jowers, and myself to a fine spring near his house, where he and others seated themselves on a fallen tree. The President’s message was then read and interpreted by one Cordray, a half-breed Mexican. … These conferences produced a strong impression on my mind for two reasons. The first was, that neither the agent nor the chief could read or write, except that Mr. Lacy could sign his name mechanically; and neither could speak the language of the other.” John H. Reagan, Memoirs with Special Reference to Secession and the Civil War, edited by Walter Flavius McCaleb (New York and Washington, The Neale Publishing Company, 1906), pp. 29-34. So Chief Bowles’ letter to Houston must have been dictated and translated.

  • Karen Coody Cooper says:

    I just read the biography of William Augustus Bowles by Leitch Wright, Jr. (U of Ga Press 1967). The author cites this man as the father of Chief Bowles, Cherokee, and then he took up with a Creek wife and his portrait was done in Creek clothing. He was English and from Maryland, a world traveler and saw opportunities working with Indians.

  • Shannon Selin says:

    That’s interesting, Karen. I think the book is wrong about William Augustus Bowles being Chief Bowles’ (Duwali’s) father, because William was born in 1763 or 1764, which makes him around 7 years younger than Duwali.

  • Brian Sain says:

    Wow, reading about Duwali stirs my spirit. I have always felt like there is a piece of me missing. I really feel a connection to his thoughts like in the letter back to Mr. Lamar. I could imagine in my head like I don’t want to fight but if you give me some time I can convince my guys to leave in peace, but if you want a fight “I’ll give ya a fight”! I wonder if that is where I get my warrior spirit from . I have always been kind of laid back but I also have this side that won’t back away from a fight and defiant till the end!
    I have always been told we had Cherokee ancestry (from my dad’s side through his grandmother and my mom’s side further back) but nobody talked about it or anything. I was always lead to believe that my Great Grandmother was full blood but it turns out she may have been half to 3/4 (my mother believed that my great grandmother’s father was also a Cherokee (the colyer name is listed in Cherokee) but I hadn’t been able to get anywhere on that yet- I mean why wouldn’t a NC Cherokee want to marry the great granddaughter of a Chief-but that’s just a theory at this point). She never spoke about her heritage, the tribe, or anything when I was young. She passed away over 27 years ago and it has left me wondering and wishing I had asked questions. I would love to meet and get to know the Cherokee family I have never known.
    I have have been trying to do some research but I believe my great great grandmother Etta Bowles and her daughter Marie Bowles were grand/great grand daughters of Chief Joseph. I have been looking through blogs, obituaries, and articles trying to gather some information before I even try to look at the Dawes or Baker rolls and things like that. I feel like I have jumped into the deep end of a swimming pool and learning to swim. I mean would you contact NC Cherokee Eastern Band or since Chief Joseph was in Texas and Oklahoma would that fall under Cherokee Nation?
    Funny note: I am also related to John Bowles and Joseph on my mother’s side because she is a Bowles. It’s weird how sometimes family trees of parents can intersect.

    • Shannon Selin says:

      Thanks for your comments, Brian. I’m not sure who you would contact to find out more about Chief Joseph and your family. I hope the information in some of the other comments on this article will help.

  • Megan says:

    I found this publication doing research on my 7th great grandmother Sophia Bear Hunter Bowles.

    How Interesting!!!

  • John Watkins says:

    Robert W. Smith, who is said to have killed Chief Bowles at the Battle of Neches, was the Son in Law of Jesse Jernigan Watkins. J. J. Watkins, my 3X Grandfather, was sent by Thomas Rusk to make Treaty with the Cherokees in Sept of 1837. He was killed by the Cherokees at the 3 Forks of the Trinity in December of 1837 according to his interpreter Luis Sanches. Smith is said to have killed Bowles in his belief that Bowles was responsible for the killing of his Father In Law J. J. Watkins.

  • D'Lyn Biggs says:

    Commenting in hopes someone has information on my connection. My 5th Great-Grandmother was Edice (Edica) Dicey Whetstone. She was married to Peter Whetstone, who owned the land where the county courthouse in Marshall, Texas, is today. Peter Whetstone was a very colorful character in Texas history! I keep finding that she was a daughter of U-Lu-Tsa and Duwali. However, the lists of children only has their Cherokee names. I would love to KNOW if my information is right, but I have no idea how to figure that out.

  • Diane Kittrell says:

    My husbands 3rd great grandfather was killed by Bowls. Chief Richard Fields.

  • A_Miller says:

    Rusk was neither friendly to the Indians nor was he trying to seek peace according to THSA

    Rusk, on the other hand, distrusted the Cherokee leadership and thought that a show of force was necessary. Rusk disobeyed Houston’s orders and often bypassed him completely by sending reports to Vice President Mirabeau B. Lamar, who was in closer agreement with Rusk’s views.

  • Shannon Selin says:

    Thanks for these details about Rusk.

  • Jeanne L Cavender says:

    he was also my 6th great grandfather on the Cavender side

  • Gary Mulliner says:

    I have been researching Bold Hunter who seems to be the same Chief Diwali but there is a time lapse that I can’t reconcile. It appears Chief Diwali left Little Hiwassee around 1811 on his first journey west. The Bold Hunter was granted a “reservation “ – 640 aces of land as a result of the Hiwassee Purchase which moved most of the Overhill Cherokees to the area around the Hiwassee River in McMinn county Tn. One of the regulations of the treaty was that the recipients of the reservations was they give up their Cherokee citizenship. This doesn’t sound like Chief Diwali. The 640 acres of land was sold to John McGhee in 1827 (Monroe County land records) Do you or does anyone know of this connection between this Bold Hunter and Chief Bowles? There are so many coincidences Cherokee mother, Scottish father, from N. C., age, etc.
    The reason for my search is because Bold Hunters 640 acres can be seen from my back porch and is covered by the Tellico Reservoir and is part of a book I am writing about the Cherokee involved in this part of Monroe County TN

  • M. A. Jolley says:

    I am also researching into the early records and ties along the Hiwassee River in E. Tennessee and descendants of Chief Jolley and Sarah Bowles. Lots of coincidences in a small area but almost impossible to find paper trail. One I’m curious about concerns Sam Houston papers where he says after meeting Chief Bowles in Texas. “Say hello to my sister and ..” He is talking to Chief Bowles so I assume he is referring to Jennie (Sister of Jolley) . Who according to some was one of his wives. It’s all so confusing.

Join the discussion

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

He was a magnificent picture of barbaric manhood and was very conspicuous during the whole battle, being the last to leave the field when the Indians retreated.

John H. Reagan