Return to First Page---The Story of James Black


James enjoyed activities with the young people of the Washington community. He became close friends with the older Shaw sons, but he fell deeply in love with Anne Shaw, the oldest daughter. For reasons unknown, Mr. Shaw opposed his daughter ever marrying James Black. Evidently James became so discouraged that he gave up his work at Shaw's Blacksmith Shop and decided to travel further west. The Daniel W. Jones story tells us he selected a location on the Rolling Fork of the Cossatot River where he cleared land, built a cabin, and started to build a dam. In the fall of 1825, the sheriff appeared and informed James that his land had been ceded to the Indians and he must leave. That portion of the country became known as Indian Territory.

With no money and no place to live, James decided to go back to Washington. It was reported that he worked again for William Shaw for a short period of time but eventually opened his own blacksmith shop and begun to prosper.

In spite of her father's opposition, James Black and Anne Shaw were married in Washington, Arkansas, on June 29, 1828. The following seven years were probably the happiest years of James's life. His business was growing, and his reputation as a knife maker was spreading, and he was married to the woman he loved. Five children were born in these seven years. They were William Jefferson (1829), Grandison Deroyston (1830), Sarah Jane (1832), John Colbert (1834), and Sydinham James (1835).

James became a responsible citizen in the community and the area surrounding Washington. He was appointed to patrol the Ozan Township, appointed overseer of the road leading from Washington to the eastern boundary of the Saline Township, and appointed deputy jailor of Hempstead County by two different sheriffs. James was elected Trustee of the Town of Washington on October 27, 1834. He served on several jury panels, including an inquest jury. He bought and sold land and slaves, borrowed money, and even filed cases in court to recover money for services he had performed and had not received payment. Daniel W. Jones and Augustus Garland, both former Governors of the State of Arkansas, wrote that James had a excellent memory of frontier times and that, even in later years, was able to settle disagreements about early happenings in the county.

James Black forged a knife for Jim Bowie in his shop in Washington, Arkansas, during the winter of 1830-31. The knife pleased Mr. Bowie and from that time until his death in 1836, Jim's use of that knife acclaimed to the world that Mr. Black did indeed possess the secret of special tempering of knives. Little did James Black ever realize that in making of that knife for Jim Bowie, he would establish an enduring place for himself in the history of bladesmithing.








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