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Bowie, Jim (1795– March 1836), popularizer of the bowie knife, speculator, and co-commander of Texan forces at the Alamo, was the son of Rezin Bowie and Elvy Jones; his formal given name was James. Bowie’s birthday and his mother’s name are the subject of dispute. Some sources claim that he was born in 1795, while others believe the correct year was 1796; some claim that his mother’s name was Alvina, perhaps shortened to Elvy, and that the reading of her name as “Jones” from Spanish documents is an erroneous extrapolation from markings that could have been intended as “Jane.” Similarly, some sources state that Bowie was born in Burke County, Georgia, while others opt for Elliot Springs, Tennessee. ...


Gilpin, William (04 October 1815–19 January 1894), geopolitician, soldier, and land speculator, was born in New Castle County, Delaware, the son of Joshua Gilpin, a manufacturer of fine paper, and Mary Dilworth. He was educated at home until age thirteen, when he was sent to Settle, England, for preparatory school. Two years later he returned home, and after an examination, he was admitted to the University of Pennsylvania as a junior. He received his A.B. in 1833 at the age of eighteen....


David Hunter. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1820).


Hunter, David (21 July 1802–02 February 1886), soldier and businessman, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Andrew Hunter, a minister, and Mary Stockton. His maternal grandfather was Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. David entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1818 and graduated with the class of 1822. He served on the American frontier and was stationed at Fort Dearborn, now the city of Chicago, from 1828 until 1831. He married Maria Indiana Kinzie, the daughter of Chicago’s first permanent white resident, John Kinzie. Hunter resigned his army commission in 1836 and pursued business interests, engaging in land speculation in and around Chicago. His efforts in civilian life were not sufficiently rewarding, so he applied for a restoration of his army commission. His application was accepted, and in 1842 he was made a paymaster with the rank of major. For the next eighteen years he served at various frontier posts....