|Welcome to Florida's Hometown!
The Pirate of Two Egg, Florida
by Dale Cox
|Copyright 2009 by Dale Cox
All Rights Reserved
William Augustus Bowles,
a pirate, adventurer and
would be emperor.
One of the most interesting individuals ever
to live in the Two Egg area was William
Augustus Bowles, the individual celebrated
in Fort Walton Beach today as the pirate "Billy
Born in Maryland, Bowles was a young boy at
the time of the American Revolution. It is little
remembered today how divided the colonies
were at the time or that many families were
steadfast in their loyalty to King George and
England. Bowles came from such a family
and as a young teenager enlisted in a Tory or
Loyalist regiment (i.e. one loyal to the King) in
Sent to Pensacola, which was then a major
English stronghold on the Gulf Coast (Florida
was a British colony during the war), he was
not popular with his commanding officers
and was drummed out of the service. Cast
adrift far from home, with no money and no
means of support, he set out from Pensacola
in what likely was an attempt to return home.
It is most likely that Bowles was trying to
follow the old Pensacola-St. Augustine Road,
which despite its name was little more than a
foot path through the wilderness. The portion
through Jackson County ran along the route
of today's State Highway 2. Small parts of the
original trail can still be seen in the Forks of
the Creek area between Campbellton and
Following the trading path was not easy and
Bowles became lost in the vast wilderness
that then covered Northwest Florida. Hungry
and exhausted, he was wandering aimlessly
through the woods when he was discovered
by a party of Indians on their way back from a
trading visit to Pensacola. Taking pity on the
young man, they rescued him and took him
back to their village.
Bowles' rescuers were from Tellmochesses,
the town of William Perryman which stood
just 7 miles east of Two Egg near today's
Parramore community. The Perryman family
was one of the most important among the
Lower Creeks. Allied with the British against
the Americans, they provided manpower and
horses to the English forces in St. Augustine
and led their warriors in battle in both Florida
and Georgia. They played a significant role in
the American Revolution in the South.
William's father, Thomas, lived just across
the Chattahoochee in what is now Seminole
County, Georgia, and was the overall leader
of the Perryman towns, which were scattered
along both sides of the river from Parramore
up into Alabama. Some 20 years later he
would become the primary Seminole chief.
He and his family, who were descendants of
an English trader and his Creek wife, all
spoke English and were prosperous, well-
educated people. They lived in regular
houses similar to those of frontier plantation
owners in Georgia and raised crops as well
as large herds of horses and cattle.
Bowles was a charismatic young man and
quickly charmed his new hosts, particularly
Thomas Perryman. The chief consented for
his daughter to marry the young refugee and
welcomed him into the family.
Bowles returned to Pensacola twice in the
coming years, once in an apparent attempt to
find a way home and then at the head of a
party of Perryman warriors who went to the
aid of the city when it was attacked by allied
forces. Pensacola fell, but Bowles managed
to escape with a party of English troops who
made their way overland to the Atlantic Coast.
He was charged by English officers with the
scalping and mutilation of prisoners, but the
evidence was insufficient and he once again
left the British service.
After briefly visiting his father in Maryland, he
returned to the Two Egg area and resumed
his life with the Perryman family.
It was at some point during these travels that
he devised a scheme of establishing the
"State of Muskogee," basically an empire
among the Seminoles and Lower Creeks
that he would lead. Thus legitimized, he
would form a navy on the Apalachicola River
which would prey on shipping on the Gulf of
Despite capture by the Spanish and a brief
imprisonment (from which he escaped),
Bowles went forward with his plans. His
"State of Muskogee," however, was little more
than a front for a flotilla of pirate ships that he
sent out onto the Gulf manned by crews of
renegade whites, Indians and both free
blacks and escaped slaves. These ships
preyed on merchant vessels and even
engaged Spanish coast guard ships in battle
in Apalachicola Bay.
The captured booty from these raids was
sent upriver to be safeguarded by his allies,
who included the Perryman family.
The smuggled goods and slaves were then
traded or sold to Indians and whites from
Georgia allowing Bowles and his allies to
accumulate a small fortune. Part of this
treasure is said to be hidden to this day at
the "Money Pond" about 12 miles northeast
of Two Egg.
Bowles eventually turned against his father-
in-law, however, and ordered his murder.
Thomas Perryman escaped, but his son
William swore revenge on Bowles and
ultimately assisted the Spanish in bringing
him to justice. He died in a Cuban prison.
He is celebrated each year at Fort Walton's
"Billy Bowlegs Festival," although it is not
believed that he ever actually used the name.