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This is a contributing entry for James Black: Life And Legacy Heritage Trail and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.

On May 1, 1939, a monument commemorating James Black and the location of his Blacksmith shop was erected. The marked is located in the vicinity where it was believed the original shop was located. While the actual location is not certain, it stands today down the hill from the 1960 reconstructed Blacksmith Shop.

1939 James Black Monument

Sky, Plant, Building, Tree

After the restoration of the 1836 Hempstead County Courthouse in 1930, this marker was erected by local citizens, based on the oral tradition that James Black's Blacksmith shop was located on the edge of Washington along the main road. For them, the Southwest Trail (Franklin Street) seemed the most probable location.

On May 1, 1939, Washington residents Albert G. Simms and Charlean Moss Williams had a marker built to commemorate the  location of the Blacksmith Shop of James Black. The goal was to preserve the town’s heritage and connection with the story of the Bowie Knife. The earliest publication mentioning the meeting of James Black and Jim Bowie was in the Washington Telegraph newspaper on December 8, 1841. The marker is located is located just down the hill from the Blacksmith Shop. The marker led to the reconstruction of the Blacksmith Shop in 1960.

The dedication plaque reads: "On this site, in 1831, James Black, a silversmith, made for Col. James Bowie the original of the famous Bowie Knife. Black is said to have carried to his grave a secret formula for tempering steel which produced a product equal to the ancient Damascus blade. Erected May 1, 1939, by Charlean Moss Williams and Albert G. Simms."

Batson, Jr., James L.. James Black and his Coffin Bowie Knives. Huntsville, Alabama. Batson Engineering and Metalworks, 2019.

"The Bowie Knife." Washington Telegraph (Washington) December 8th 1841. , p. 2.

Brooke, Steven. Historic Washington, Arkansas. Gretna, Louisiana. Pelican Publishing Company, 2000.

Medearis, Mary. Washington, Arkansas : History on the Southwest Trail. Hope, Arkansas. Copies + Office Solutions, 1984.

Williams, Charlean Moss. The Old Town Speaks : Washington, Hempstead County, Arkansas, gateway to Texas, 1835, Confederate capital, 1863. Houston, Texas. The Anson Jones Press, 1951.

Williams, Joshua. Washington. Images of America. Charleston, South Carolina. Arcadia Publishing, 2014.

Williams, Joshua. Black, James, Encyclopedia of Arkansas . November 18th 2011. Accessed April 15th 2022.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives