Ancestors and Descendents of Asa Jarmon Lee Sowell

(mostly taken from a mimeographed history of the family found by Marty Hill)

Asa Jarmon Lee Sowell Asa Jarmon Lee Sowell John Sowell

John Sowell

John Sowell was born in Duplin County, North Carolina around 1770. He was the son of John and Mary Newton Sowell. In his book Rangers and Pioneers of Texas, A. J. Sowell states: "John Sowell, then a young man and great-grandfather of the present generation in Texas, was living in North Carolina. He had five sons: Newton, Shadreack, Lewis, John, and William. his sons removed from North Carolina and setled in Tennessee. John, William, Lewis and Newton were described as "stout athletic men except for John". Some of them soon joined General Harrison's army and were in the Battle of Tippecanoe. They also served in the Blackhawk war and were in the battle of Macanaw island, in which Lewis was killed" (p. 798). In Texas Indian Fighters he also states, "William and Lewis were both killed in battle with the Indians, the latter a Mackinaw Island and William under General Harrison probably at Tippecanoe, for many of the Sowells fought in that battle". It is speculated that John Sowell had two daughers Sarah, born 1782 and Mary born 1787.

A. J. Sowell also names Newton, Shadrack, Lewis, John and William, presumably born in that order. The records in the Archives of Tenn. at Nashville Tenn. state that William was killed in War of 1812, killed in battle of Tippecanoe, and he enlisted as a private under Col. Thomas Benton, his Captain being George Caperton. His brach of service was Vol. Infantry and he was at one time discharged only to rejoin under Capt. Houette. There was no record of William being married. The War of 1812 started June 18, 1812 and ended with the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815 after a peace treaty had already been signed at Ghent on Christmas Eve 1814.

William could have been twenty years old when he joined the service and fought in the War of 1812. This would make his birth date about 1792. The Battle of Tippecanoe was fought November 7, 1811.

Lewis Sowell was a was killed by Indians at Mackinaw Island in War of 1812. He served as a private in Vol. Infantry under Col. Benjamin Houette. He had no record of marriage. He may have been born in about 1790.

Newton Sowell served in the War of 1812 as a private in Vol. Infantry. He enlisted Jan. 28, 1814 under Col. S. Copeland. His captain was John Holshower and after he was discharged we could find no more records on him. He may have been born in 1791.

Shadrack Sowell gave a nice piece of history since A. J. Sowell states "we are also related to the Champes of Virginia", we found that Shadrack Sowell married Margaret Champe on November 28, 1824. The marriage was somnized by J. M. Lovell, J. P. This was found in Marriage Record Books of Davidson County, Tenn., p. 289. Shadrack was probably younger that William and Lewis.

Their brother John was born in about 1780 in Davidson County, North Carolina. He married Rachael Carpenter born in 1785 in Kentucky near Mammoth Cave. Her father was John Carpenter, one of Francis Marion's Men who was killed in the Battle of the Revolution.

John Sr. left Tennessee for Missouri in 1824 where he bought a farm and raised crops. During this time he was approached by Green DeWitt, a Missourian, to join his colony of three hundred families and move to Gonzales, Tejas. He sold his farm in 1827 and with his son-in-law Humphrey Branch, who married his oldest daugher Rachel, started for Tejas. She was John's oldest child. John Sowell arrived and registered in the Green De Witt Colony on May 3, 1830 with six in his family. They were his wife Rachael, daughter Sarah, the sons Andrew Jackson Sowell, John N. Sowell, and Asa Jarmon Lee Sowell (eight years old). His sons Lewis D. and William A. registered as being single men.

John Sr. was a gunsmith and blacksmith by trade and one of the "Immortal 18" who delayed for two days Lt. Castaneda's attempt to obtain the canon the Mexican government lent to the citizens of Gonzales to protect themselves from the Indians. In 1832 he moved from Gonzales to six miles below the present town of Seguin, Texas in what is now called Stewart Bend on the Guadalupe River at a small creek, then called Sowell's Creek. In 1835, vecause of Indian raids and trouble brewing with Mexico they moved back to Gonzales, Texas. Humphrey Branch and his family also left their home and retuned to Gonzales with John Sowell.

John was considered an "old man" in 1836, being about 56 years old. They called him "old man Sowell" in Gonzales to distinguish him from his sons. He died in Gonzales, Texas about May 10, 1838. When he died he was buried in what was then the only cemetery in Gonzales. In later years this cemetery was in what is now almost the center of downtown Gonzales and being in a very-run down condition with many unmarked graves and headstones broken and scatterd about these remains were removed, as well as other graves from a nearby church, to City Cemetery. These remains were buried in a common plot. John Sowell died intestate but Asa Jarmon Lee Sowell was the first to administer his property.

Children of John Sowell and Rachel Carpenter

Rachael, b. 1809, Davidson County TN, first married Newton Sowell Jr., a first cousin, then Humphrey Branch. Moved to Illinois in 1835.

Sarah Carpenter., b. 1810, Davidson County TN, married Winslow Turner June 16, 1831, died in the fall of 1837. Not known to have had children.

Andrew Jackson, b. 1815, Davidson County TN, married Lucinda Turner (1827-1883), June 27, 1842 in Guadalupe County. He died in January 1883 and was buried in Mofield Cemetery, Guadalupe County, Texas. He was one of the messengers sent by Travis from the Alamo to secure beef for the garrison. He was in the first group of early Texas Rangers and the group was called the Gonzales Rangers. G. H. Nichols, John N. Sowell, Asa. J. L. Sowell were also in the group. The Muster Roll of Captain Henry B. McCulloch of May 1846 to October 1847 known as the Texas Mounted Volunteers was a spy company head by Ben McCulloch. At one time Andrew Sowell was a Ranger under Captian Callahan stationed in Seguin, Texas.

William A., b. 1811, Davidson County TN, married Sarah Grogan (b. 1813, TN) on January 6, 1834. They had one daughter Rachael. William was stabbed to death on the streets of Gonzales on June 8, 1834 in an argument with Ben Morrison (court records give the name Silas M. Morris) in 1835. It is said that a Shawnee Indian friend of William avenged his murder. His widow married Elijah Tate on Feb. 19, 1835.

Lewis Dean Sowell, b. 1813, was a blacksmith. he arrived in gonzales with the Green DeWitt Colony with his father on May 3, 1830. He was said not to be an outdoorsman like his brothers and to have brought a fine library with him from his old home in Tennessee. In March 1836 after the settlers had fled the town, Sam Houston gave orders to "torch the town" and everything, including Lewis' library was destroyed. He never returned to the town. He died unmarried in Brazoria County in 1838.

John N.

Asa Jarmon Lee,

The census of Guadalupe County of 1850 gives John Sr.'s widow Rachael Carpenter Sowell age as 65. At that time she had with her a granddaughter Rachael Sowell age 15 (the only child of William Sowell). In 1840 Rachael Carpenter Sowell married George W. Nichols. They divorced in March 1848. She died possibly in the 1860s and was buried in San Geronimo Cemetery.

Children of Asa Jarmon Lee Sowell and Mary Mildred Turner

"The adventures of Asa Sowell and myself"

excerpted from Adventures of an old Texas Ranger, by James W. Nichols

"In those early days there was no mill in the country to grind corn, and so little of that article was raised, that there was not much use for mills. The nearest mill to Gonzales was Grassmire’s Mill, on the Colorado River, nearly seventy miles distant.

As it was understood that there was plenty of meal to sell at that mill, there was soon enough money made up to buy a load of meal, but who would go after it? Father agreed to furnish a wagon, one yoke of oxen, and a driver, if others would furnish money to buy his meal. Old Man Sowell agreed to furnish one yoke of oxen, an assistant driver (for company) and some money, if others would furnish the rest. They soon made up enough money to buy the load.

It was decided that Asa Sowell and myself should go. Neither of us had ever been there before, but after talking with some of the old settlers, and getting the direction, which was all I required, (for my knowledge of the woods far exceeded that of any other person of my age) we hitched up and rolled out, with no sign of a road, or even a trail, to travel the whole way.

Our oxen were fat and unruly, and it was "awful" hot the first day. We arrived at Peach creek about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, where we rested some two hours. Not knowing where we would get our first water, we watered our oxen and filled up our gourds. It was cool that evening when we started, and we made good headway. After traveling about 8 miles, we came to a brushy ridge. As the sun was setting, we could not see how to pick our way through the brush, so we camped there.

The next morning, as only my oxen were in sight, I told Asa to take a look for his, while I made some coffee. He soon came back and said he could not find them, so I told him I would go while he ate his breakfast. I thought I could soon strike their trail--as the grass was high and thick--and find them. I soon struck their trail and could follow it without difficulty. I walked fast and trotted on the trail for about two miles, when I found their broken hobbles. I knew then they had gone a long way off. I stood, thinking for a minute, considering what I should do. I knew Asa was young and inexperienced, and therefore decided that I had better go back to the wagon and get him, so we would be together if anything should happen; for we never knew, in those days, when there was danger, until it was upon us. I returned to the camp and found Asa standing up in the wagon, nearly scared to death, as he had heard a gun fired in the direction I had gone. He said he thought, as I stayed so long, the Indians had attacked and killed me, and he was just thinking about hitching up the oxen that were left there, and taking the back track, he was so uneasy.

We then tied up my oxen, took our gourds (then nearly empty) and our guns, and struck out on the trail of the oxen, which led nearly due north, while our course had been nearly due east. We followed the trail until about sundown, when Asa said he would have to rest, and sat down. He then said he was awful hungry.

We had neglected to provide anything to eat, so while he was resting, I walked around to see if I could find a squirrel or a rabbit, or some kind of bird to kill, (for I was in the same fix, as neither of us had eaten anything since early in the morning) but could find nothing.

After traveling till dark, we camped on the trail of the oxen. Next morning, as soon as it was light enough to see the trail, we resumed our journey. We traveled until two o’clock in the afternoon, when we came to a large trail, about two days old. I examined it and found that it had been made by a squad of Indians with a large drove of horses, which they had stolen down on the Lavaca River. Here we lost the trail of our oxen, but, after circling around for awhile, we found it again, and found the skeleton of a buffalo the Indians had killed. The buzzards and wolves had picked the bone perfectly clean. A mile farther on, we found the carcass of a buffalo that the Indians had wounded, and which had strayed off and died and we came upon it.

It was now about 4 o’clock in the afternoon of the second day after leaving the wagon; we were out of water, and terribly hungry. The dead buffalo was swelled so the buzzards and wolves could not get hold of it to eat it. It had been dead about three days, during exceedingly hot weather, and was therefore not very fresh; but "hunger knows no difference," and we decided to try some, anyway. I cut off a piece. It did not smell very nice, you may believe, but we roasted it and ate until we were loaded down.

As all kinds of game will run for miles from an Indian trail, we now knew why game was so scarce. After eating, we followed the trail several miles farther, when we both began to feel very thirsty, but kept on until Asa gave out and I was almost in the same condition, when we sat down and rested a while. We then resumed our journey, with the gloomy prospect of having to pass another night without water, staring us in the face. Nevertheless we trudged on, and soon came to a deep, beaten trail. I told Asa that the trail led to water, so we left the ox trail and followed the old buffalo trail a few miles, (fortunately for us) when we struck a deep, dry creek. The trail led up the bed of the creek, and we followed it for a mile, when we found water, and--behold! There stood our oxen!

After drinking and resting, then resting and drinking, we filled our gourds, caught the oxen and started for the wagon, then at least twenty-five miles away, and the sun about half an hour high. We traveled about two miles, when Asa said he was sick, and lay down. I tied the oxen to a tree and went back to him. He soon commenced vomiting, and kept that up at intervals until dark. By this time his gourd was empty, and when he again asked for water, I gave him mine. He tool a hearty drink and lay down again. While he was quiet, I began to study the situation: My oxen at the wagon, tied up for two days and a night without water or grass, and the prospect good for another day, if not more, and I then at least twenty-three miles from them, with an awful sick companion--for I had reached over and felt his pulse and discovered that he had a burning fever.

He drank so much water that my gourd was soon also emptied, and then he lay down and slept soundly. I tried to sleep, but could not, as I was so uneasy about him.

In about an hour Asa awoke and began begging for more water, and when I told him there was not a drop in either gourd, he fell back and groaned: "O, Lordy!" His fever seemed to be increasing. He lay still for about an hour; then roused up and said: "Water! water! water! Oh, for God’s sake, a little water!" It was a "ground hog case." I knew, from the fix he was in, he was bound to die before morning, without water.

"Asa," said I, "if you will promise me that you won’t die before I get back, I will go and get you some water, as dark as it is."

"Well, I will try," replied he.

I scanned the country around to see if I would know the place again in the dark; but just then the thought struck me that if I build a fire I could see that a long distance, in that flat. But there was one grat drawback to this; the grass was so tall and dry. I looked around, and found a tolerable naked place, scraped off the grass as best I could with my butcher-knife, and build a small fire. I then took both gourds and started. I had the buffalo trail to guide me. I made it to the creek pretty well, but found it very dark under the banks. I groped my way to the water, filled both gourds, and started back.

When I got in sight of the fire, the light blinded me so I could hardly travel. I did not discover the cause of so much light until I arrived within about eighty yards of camp. A new difficulty had arisen. While I was away, the wind had sprung up, and had blown some sparks and small coals into the dry grass, which was burning at a fearful rate.

And Asa--oh, where was he?

I ran as fast as I could, and rushed in to try to save the oxen. But the wind had grown so strong, and the fire had increased so, that though I tried to fire against it, it did no good. Soon the wind whirled and changed, and the fire ran under the oxen. They reared and kicked and tried to break the rope, but could not get away, and had to take the chances. The fire singed all the hair off their legs and bellies, so that, in a few days, the hide peeled off in patches.

"But to return to my mutton." After I found that the fire had out-run me and gotten away, I whooped and hallooed for Asa, but received no answer. Then I hunted for him, hallooing every few steps, but in vain.

I went back to try and find the place where we had first stopped, recollecting a large, bending live-oak tree, the branches of which touched the ground on one side. I had noticed it before starting for the water, and now searched for it, but, after such a brilliant light, the darkness seemed more intense than before. I groped my way back to it, constantly peering about in every direction, and musing thus: "Well, while I was gone after water, Asa died and the wolves ate him up, or dragged him off, or else the fire burned over him, and blackened him so that I cannot recognize him in the dark, dense smoke."

I walked around and around, trying to find the place where I had left him, all the time peering into the darkness and smoke, until I stumbled upon the gourds, and, not far from there, I discovered--Asa, lying flat on his face.

"Just as I expected!" thought I, "dead. By grannie!"

But, on going up to him, I found that life was not extinct--that he was still breathing. He had been fighting the fire like "killing snakes at a dime a dozen," but, coming to the same conclusion that I did--"that the fire had out-run him and gotten away"--he had left off fighting it, and had started back to see if I had come. He had gone that far, when he became exhausted, and fell down in a fainting fit.

I got a gourd of water, wet his face and head, and poured some of the water in his mouth. I then wet my handkerchief, put it on his breast, and poured water on it until I had emptied one gourd, but he was still unconscious. I must have worked with him an hour, before he came to himself. He opened his eyes slowly and looked around a little wildly. I said: "Asa, here is some water; don’t you want a drink?"

He raised up and drank, and asked: "Where are we?" Before I could speak, he exclaimed: "O, Lordy!" and lay down again, and was soon snoring gloriously.

I lay down, but there was no sleep for me, and I fell into the following train of thoughts: "Well, this beats bob-tail, and bob-tail beats Bill’s bull, and it is said that Bill’s bull beat the devil. What an eventful trip we have had, and it is not half over yet. I wish I was back home under my "mammy’s" bed, cracking peanuts." I was lying there, studying these things over, when I heard a gang of wolves "let all holts go" howling, seemingly not over twenty yards distant. I jumped up and went for my gun, the first time I had thought of it since I had returned with the water; and "O, cracky!" it, of course, was not there. I woke Asa and asked him about our guns. He said, "When the fire broke out, I snatched up both guns, wrapped the shot-pouch straps around them and laid them up in a tree," pointing to the old stooping tree.

I had heard some fearful stories about wolves attacking people, and it made me feel "sorter spotted behind the ears." I got the guns down, and was so glad that I exclaimed (handing Asa his gun): "Bully for your sore toe, if it never gets well!" Asa staggered to his feet and took his gun.

The wolves kept advancing and howling, until they were within fifteen steps of us. We both prepared ourselves to shoot at the same time; then, if they still advanced on us, we agreed to take to the old stooping tree, which stood near by. The wolves still advanced....