This walnut tree is in a grove of black walnut trees next to the site of the original James Black‟s blacksmith shop (facing Conway Street, near the Southwest Trail/Military Road) where the Bowie knife was made. The grove is within a block or two of his original blacksmith shop location. James Black primarily used black walnut in the handles of his Bowie and Carrigan knives. This walnut is across the street from the Washington Public School (1914-1940).
Jim Bowie was one of ten children of Reason (or “Rezin”) and Elve Bowie who moved from Kentucky to Louisiana. The father served in the Revolutionary War. Jim Bowie‟s older brother, Rezin (was one of twin boys, Rezin & Rhesa) Bowie is the designer of the Bowie knife (c. 1826), after Jim‟s fight in Alexandra, Louisiana where his current knife snapped, the new design proved successful in 1827 in the continuation of that same fight known as the Natchez Sandbar Fight where Bowie killed his opponent Major/Sheriff Norris Wright. Rezin further refined his design by taking it to a blacksmith. James Black is the blacksmith to make the knife (c. 1831) and significantly improved on Rezin‟s design as stated by Rezin in 1838, “The improvement in its fabrication, and the state of perfection which it has since acquired from experienced cutlers was not brought about through my agency”. Jim Bowie made it famous by his use. John Bowie (another older brother) came to James Black in Washington and signed for the knife deal, also did some land deals in town. Jim Bowie married Ursula Maria de Veramendi in 1831 in Texas and was very wealthy, around the same time as his knife was commissioned and given to him by his brother, Rezin. It has been suggested that the infamous “Bowie knife” could have been a wedding present from his brother.
Location: Historic Washington State Park
Registered: November 19, 1997
Species: Black Walnut