Two men’s paths crossed in the frontier town of Washington, Arkansas Territory, circa 1830. Neither man had the slightest inkling of how dramatically their lives were about to change. Though similarly named, the two were like night and day — one sought out conflict; the other ran from it. They met at the bustling settlement where the Southwest Trail intersected several lesser-known Native American trails. For many weary pioneers heading to Mexican-held Texas across the Red River, it was the last re-supply point on the western edge of the United States.
This is the story of James Black, a blacksmith, and James Bowie and the intertwining of their lives by a brief encounter in an obscure town no longer on any beaten path. They are forever linked by a piece of metal — a hand-forged knife — both beautiful and deadly. One man would die in his prime in an epoch battle. The other would die of old age and been forgotten but for his encounter with the more famous James. The famous Bowie knife spawned by their meeting would come to define these two men and the spirit of an entire generation.
Men like Bowie, Sam Houston, and Davy Crockett crossed paths in Washington, Arkansas. The Southwest Trail passed through Washington, Arkansas allowing its travelers to journey from east of the Mississippi to the Red River Valley. Down these trails traveled those of their own free will and those with no say in the matter — slaves to the fertile cotton plantations and Native Americans along the Trail of Tears to Indian Territory. Against this backdrop, two men struggle to lead meaningful lives in a hostile and often deadly environment.
This is a work of historical fiction depicting the lives of several well-known and lesser-known characters that crossed paths in an obscure town in southwest Arkansas. This narrative brings these two men to life again by weaving together historical facts with a fictionalized accounting of the people, places, and events during the early expansion of the United States west of the Mississippi. This period is overshadowed by the Civil War and the post-war western period but is no-less historically significant and equally full of interesting characters that epitomize the pioneering spirit of America.