Chuck Bowen’s Relative is Unsung Hero for Ole Miss

(Some information from this blog comes from Miller Civil War Tours on Facebook)

James Howry, who was an attorney in Oxford, MS, an original trustee of the University of Mississippi,  and the Treasurer for the Board, is known for something extraordinary in the beginning of the University. 

In 1846, he rode his horse from Jackson, MS and he had in his possession a sack of gold coins  to pay the contractor to build the first buildings at the University. According to the story he put the coins in a dirty old sack and covered them with rags. He carried the sack with him when he stayed in boarding houses and he would toss the bag in a corner of the room, possibly to throw people off to think it didn’t hold the valuable gold coins. 

Photo from Miller Civil War Tours on Facebook: James Howry, Narcissa (Bowen) Howry house.

The photo shows his original law office in the front yard. In that day, doctors and lawyers built their offices in their front yard. 

During the Civil War, Union General Grant was on his way to Oxford accompanied by 80,000 men. Howry had to make a quick decision on what to do with the gold so it wouldn’t be found. He initially wanted to hide it under the house, and he told his wife about his plan. It’s a good thing he let her know where he was planning on hiding it. She told him that would be the first place they would look. She thought up a new plan and decided to have their servants dig up her rose bushes and that is where they buried the University gold. 

Sure enough, the Yankees learned that Howry was the University Treasurer and they made their way to the Howry home to search for the gold coins. They looked throughout the house, dug up most of the front yard and also much of the back yard. They never looked at the thorny rose bushes. These gold coins were used to help the University restart in the fall of 1865. 

Howry’s wife was Narcissa, the unsung hero of the story. She was a Bowen and a sister to William Bolivar Bowen, Chuck Bowen’s great-great-grandfather. He was in the first class of Ole Miss and served as a Confederate in the Civil War.

According to family stories, William’s home near Oxford was burned during the Civil War. His slant top desk has been passed down to Chuck. It was one of the few things they were able to save, and there are still burn marks on it. There was no future for him in Oxford, so his parents  sent him west to Medicine Lodge, Kansas where he met his wife, Elizabeth Mills. They homesteaded near Darrouzett, Texas and eventually started a ranch near Booker, Texas.

Learn about our Sand Creek book here: Click the Buy the Book tab in the top right of the page or you can also get our book here: WeFoundTheLostSandCreekSite

Follow us on Facebook: BowenHistory 

Don’t forget to comment below and share this blog so anyone that would like to be added to our blog update list can email us at to let us know.

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *