Bones Along the Brazos

The Story Behind the Book

   Perhaps it is my passion for history that drives me to attempt to write this story. It certainly isn't my skill of words. I have never felt like I had a gift of language. What I do feel I have a gift for is details. And details and digging is what led me to writing this book.

   I don't remember particularly when I became enamoured with genealogy. Like all passions, I think it is something born within us, without any specific or identifiable point of beginning. When I was a horse crazy little girl I remember spending hours tracing pedigrees of horses. As I grew older, our yearly family reunions became the working grounds for learning my genealogy. Who is that person? How are they related to me? I peppered my father and grandmother constantly. When I was 16 years old, I brought a pen and notepad in order to start writing down who was who and where did everyone come from. I was hooked, and there was no cure.

   Since genealogy is also made up of history, as well as names, dates and places, it was only natural that I also loved reading history and historical novels. What never interested me, however, was writing about history. I was well into my 50's before it even dawned on me, and I still cannot understand why. But I can pinpoint what triggered my writing this story.

   My husband has always been the person that writing comes easy to. When he retired, I encouraged him to write and tell his story. He did, and he hasn't stopped. One afternoon in 2015 we were discussing a family line of mine that I had been actively researching. We were starting to realize how many famous people my 4th great grandfather had known in his life, and that we were currently living only 20 miles from where he had settled in Spanish Texas in 1835. It was then, as if he had spoken to me, I suddenly felt that I had to tell his story, and that I could. Since then, he has haunted me daily, churning through my head what his life was like, what motivated him to sell the family home and bring his young bride and children to such a savage and unstable frontier?

   William Russell Bowen was born into a respected and impressive frontier family. His grandfather, William Russell, was a famous Revolutionary War General. His uncle Rees Bowen famously died at the Battle of King's Mountain fighting Col. Patrick Ferguson's army. His mother was a long time friend and confidant of Rachel Robards Jackson, wife of President Andrew Jackson. His older brother John Henly Bowen studied law under John Breckinridge of Kentucky. He lived with, and fought with John James Audobon, and was friends with George Keating, brother of famous poet John Keatings. His sons made their mark in history as well. William R. Bowen Jr. founded and led the Confederate Colony of Sao Paulo, Brazil after the Civil War, and his second son Adam Rankin Bowen was Masonic brethern to Sam Houston in Huntsville, TX, and was Grand Master of the lodge when Houston died. It is said his masonic brethern served as pall bearers at his funeral. William Russell Bowen had plenty of famous nephews as well - Andrew "Stovepipe" Johnson, Colonel John Henry Moore, and Tom Sawyer, aka William Bowen, childhood and lifelong friend of Samuel Clemens. With so many noteworthy family, friends and associates surrounding him, where did he feel his place in history belonged? In the end, did he feel his life was fullfilling?

   In interpreting history, I have tried my best, sometimes to my detriment of time and schedule, to never deviate from historical facts, and I have striven to present only what I feel is a part of William "Bill" R. Bowen's life. If DNA speaks to us through the generations, I truly believe he is my 'soul mate' ancestor, and I am proud to call him my ancestor. I hope I have made him proud in writing this book of his life story.

   I hope you enjoy it as well, and may you find an ancestor of your own that is calling to you.

Kerry Kelly
May 2020