Chief Diwal'li "Bowles" aka "Colonel Bowles"

Chief Diwal'li "Bowles" aka "Colonel Bowles"


Mom's family history

Stories about Chief Diwal'li "Bowles" aka "Colonel Bowles"

Chief Bowles

  • Texas USA

Chief Bowles

Also known as Colonel Bowles

My maternal great great great grandfather

Chief Diwal'li had a daughter who's name is unknown to me at this time. (Namie or Nettie?) This daughter married James Newman Sr. They had a son, also named James J Newman. Unclear at this time if there were other children.

<a>Chief Bowles (1756-1839)</a> - Known to the Cherokee as Diwal'li. His name meant "Bold Hunter"

** Born in North Carolina around 1756, he was the son of a Scottish father and a Cherokee mother.**

In 1810, his band moved to better hunting grounds near New Madrid, Missouri and then two years later to northwestern Arkansas.

In 1819, they relocated to what they hoped would be their permanent home in northeastern Texas . There, he became the "peace chief" of a council that united several Cherokee villages.

The Cherokee were welcomed by the Mexican government, who saw them as a barrier to white settlement and Bowles began to negotiate with them to obtain permanent title to the land, but were never finalized.

After the Texas Revolution, Bowles once again began to negotiate with Sam Houston for possession of the lands. On February 23, 1836, in a treaty made by Houston signed a treaty that, though substantially reducing the Cherokee landholdings, would give them permanent title. Unfortunately for the Cherokee , the Texas Senate would not ratify it. Houston's successor, Mirabeau B. Lamar, opposed all Indians in the new republic and ordered Bowles and his people to leave Texas. This led to what is known as the Cherokee War.

On July 16, 1839, Chief Bowles was killed in the Battle of the Neches,  the last engagement between the Cherokees and whites settlers in Texas.

From Cherokee Nation website:

Bowl, The (a translation of his native name, Diwa?‘l?), also called Col. Bowles. A noted Cherokee chief and leader of one of the first bands to establish themselves permanently on the w. side of the Mississippi. At the head of some hostile Cherokee from the Chickamauga towns he massacred all of the male members of a party of emigrants at Muscle shoals in Tennessee r. in 1794, after which he retired up St. Francis r. on the w. side of the Mississippi, and, his act being disowned by the Cherokee council, who offered to assist in his arrest, he remained in that region until after the cession of Louisiana Territory to the United States. About 1824 so much dissatisfaction was caused by delay in adjusting the boundaries of the territory of the Western Cherokee in Arkansas and the withholding of their annuities that a party headed by Bowl crossed Sabine r. into Texas, where they were joined by bodies of refugees from a number of other eastern tribes and began negotiations with the Mexican government for a tract of land on Angelina, Neches, and Trinity rs., but were interrupted by the outbreak of the Texan war for independence in 1835. Houston, who had long been a friend of the Cherokee, entered into a treaty to assign them certain lands along Angelina r. , but it was rejected by the Texas senate in 1837, and Houston's successor, Lamar, declared his intention to drive all the Indians from Texas. On the plea that they were entering into a conspiracy with the Mexican inhabitants, a commission, supported by several regiments of troops, was sent to the Cherokee town on Angelina r. to demand that they remove at once across the border. On their refusal they were attacked, July 15-16, 1839, and defeated in two engagements, Bowl and his assistant chief, Hard-mush, being among the many killed. See Mooney in 19th Rep. B. A. E., 1900. (J. R. S.)

Big-mush. A noted western Cherokee, known to the whites also as Hard-mush and among his people as Gatiûñ'wa`li ('bread made into balls or lumps'), killed by the Texans in 1839-Mooney in 19th Rep. B. A. E., 1900.

From Austin Chronicle


Chief Diwali died on July 16, 1839. Hidden away in the annals of Texas history is the story of the Indian leader and the expulsion of his peaceful band of farmers from East Texas. It is the story of a broken treaty.

In the sweltering summer of 1839, President Mirabeau B. Lamar ordered the Texas Army under General Thomas J. Rusk to near present-day Alto to issue the Indians an ultimatum: "Leave or die." Chief Diwali -- he is also known as Chief Bowls -- tried to negotiate a deal that would allow the Indians to complete the coming harvest. The army's refusal fanned the passions of the young warriors on both sides.

During the night the entire Cherokee population north of Nacogdoches disappeared into the surrounding forest. It wasn't until the next afternoon that the Texas Army found the Indians moving northwest and attacked. The first day's battle went badly for the Indians and they lost most of their supplies. On the second day the Indians didn't have a chance. Chief Diwali was one of the last on the battlefield when his horse was shot from under him.

Although hurt, Chief Diwali got up and started walking toward his retreating men when he was shot in the back. Mortally wounded, he rolled to a sitting position facing his enemy. A young captain rode up and shot the chief in the head. At that instant the Cherokee tribe ceased to exist in Texas.

The Cherokees -- they call themselves the Tsalagiyi (pronounced Ja La Gee) -- came to Texas from the eastern United States early enough to deal with the Spanish government. After 1819, they moved to present-day Smith and Cherokee counties. A new Mexican government led the Indians to believe they could stay on the land, but never wrote the promise down.

In 1836, while Colonel William B. Travis was fortifying the Alamo, General Sam Houston was making peace with Chief Diwali. The Indians were offered about 2.5 million acres between the Neches and Angelina rivers (near TX 21 and Interstate 20 in present-day Texas). The territory includes modern Jacksonville, Rusk, Tyler, Henderson, Kilgore, and hundreds of other small communities.

The East Texas tribes stayed neutral in the revolution. Chief Diwali was said to be carrying his copy of the document when he was killed. All 54 delegates representing themselves as the government of Texas signed the treaty. But with the war over, the Texas senate of 1837 failed to honor the treaty. In 1838, Texans elected Lamar, a man with a strong dislike for Indians, as president.

After the battle the Texas Cherokees scattered. Some went to Arkansas and Oklahoma. Diwali's son, John Bowl, tried to lead a group to Mexico, but were attacked by Texas Rangers near San Saba. A last effort to gain legal recognition for the Cherokees died in 1946.

The Cherokee returned to Texas in 1993 when several elders of the tribe led by Chief D.L. Utsidihi Hicks of Troup reactivated the band. Hicks is organizing descendants of the tribe through a Web site ( "We have about 3,000 registered members," Chief Hicks says.

The story goes that after the battle, Diwali's body was desecrated by the Texans and the Indians refused to bury the remains. "Diwali was a great chief, they wouldn't have left him," says the former U.S. Army captain who served in Vietnam. "We'll never know where they buried the remains," Chief Hicks says.

In 1936, the state erected a monument in the field where the chief died. On private property in Van Zandt County, the stone marker is about three miles north of TX 64 where it crosses the Neches River west of Tyler on the catfish farm road.**

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