It is claimed that the Bowie knife was designed by Rezin Bowie, the brother of James Bowie, and made by the blacksmith, James Black. The blade, made of steel, was up to 14 inches long. It was made in a shape that enabled the cowboy or mountain man to skin or disembowel an animal. Men also used it as a weapon and for shaving.
The use of the Bowie Knife is in general practice among high & low, though I believe more at Houston than anywhere else. They are mostly worn either in the sleeve, or within the back part of the coat collar. As to going about unarmed either with pistols or Bowie knife or dagger stick, it is a piece of neglect unheard of. The pedlars who hawk their goods on the wharves have always a good show, of Bowie Knives Pistols & rifles, & one with whom I was bargaining for a Knife, told me I ought to let him have a dollar more than the price we agreed on, as he "could warrant it had tasted blood." These knives are a regular article of commerce, & are mostly made at Sheffield in England - I have one before me now, of about a foot long (a trifle compared to some of them) manufactured by "Bunting & Son" of that Town, on the blade of which is beautifully worked the words - "Arkansas Genuine tooth-pick." This compliment to the murderers of Arkansas will doubtless be rewarded by a preference being shown to the wares of Mr. Bunting, in the transaction of business. The members of Congress are sometimes in the habit of employing the Bowie Knife in debate.