University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the Ben Caldwell Prather Papers, 1781-1973.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Prather, Ben Caldwell, [ca. 1902-1972]
Title: Ben Caldwell Prather Papers
Dates: 1781-1973
Abstract: The Ben Caldwell Prather Papers are Prather's collected notes, articles, and artifacts pertaining to the Prather and Bowie family histories.
Accession No.: 73-112
Extent: 1 ft., 7 1/2 in.
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

Born in Palestine, Texas, ca. 1902-1972, Ben Caldwell Prather was distantly related to James Bowie, an amateur historian, and gun collector. Prather wrote extensively about Bowie and his family and owned a restaurant and the Bowie Knife Museum in Alexandria, Louisiana.

Scope and Contents

The Ben Caldwell Prather Papers, 1781-1973, contain documents relating to Prather’s family history, especially pertaining to James Bowie’s life. Legal papers relating to the Bowie family encompass mortgages, marriage licenses, bills of sale, a deed to land in Tennessee, Patsy Bowie’s will, land surveys and maps, and other business contracts. A booklet in the Bowie file describes the Sand Bar Duel, where Bowie was wounded and his knife became famous. The Prather family files include the family’s coat of arms, newspaper articles, a family tree, and family narratives. The Miscellaneous files consist of booklets with historical information about Tennessee, Louisiana, and the Lafayette Parish; the journal of the Louisiana Senate from the first and second sessions; André Barbier’s will; and notes on Belle Starr. The scrapbooks are composed of genealogical histories and newspaper articles about the Prathers and Bowies, and as well as photographs of family members.



The papers are arranged topically into four series:
  • I. Bowie Family
    • a. Legal Documents
    • b. Files
  • II. Prather Family Files
  • III. Miscellaneous
  • IV. Scrapbooks, Bowie and Prather Files


Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Bowie, James, d. 1836
Prather, Bed Caldwell
Bowie family
Prather family
Bowie knife
West (U.S.) -- History

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Ben Caldwell Prather Papers, 1781-1973, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Detailed Description of the Papers



3M354 Bowie Family Legal Documents
3M354-355 Bowie family files
3M355 Prather family files
Miscellaneous files
4M641-642 Scrapbooks, Bowie and Prather families