James' parents were George Dowell and Mary Vincent - source: a bio written on William Lee of Buffalo, Scott Co, Iowa, husband of Priscilla America Dowell, sister to James A. Dowell. George was a native of Tennessee and Mary a native of Virginia. His siblings were Patsey Emeline Dowell; Rebeca Elizabeth Dowell; John Allen Dowell; Eliza Jane Dowell; George Martin Dowell; Mary White Dowell; Reuben Hickman Dowell; Keziah Elvira Dowell; Nancy Caroline Dowell; Priscilla America Dowell; Jewell Henry Dowell and Clarisa Ann Dowell. Of those I have traced, Patsey is thought to have married Lacey Carter; George Martin married Catherine Elizabeth Knight; Reuben Hickman married Emily Harris; Keziah married Elijah Clark; Nancy Caroline married #1 unknown Stull married #2 James Cassady; Priscilla America married William Lee; and Clarisa Ann (Clara) married Daniel E Russell. George Martin, Reuben Hickman, Keziah, Nancy, Priscilla and Clara all lived in Muscatine County, Iowa at one time or another. Most of them married there as well. George Martin and his family ended up in Lowell, Kansas. Rueben and his family Bartlett, Kansas. Keziah and her family lived in Iowa (she died early on) Nancy was a widow by 1880 and lived in Iowa. Clara and her husband were in Jackson, Missouri by 1880 and Jame's family ended up in Arroyo Grande, CA. I haven't been able to locate records for the other children listed in the papers I have. However the census records do seem to bear out that there were that many children born to George and his wife.
There seems to be some confusion on exactly who George Dowell, (the father of James), married. To my knowledge, no marriage record has ever been found for him. However, the bio on Wm Lee is the only printed documentation that gives the name of his wife. Census records for both James and Priscilla bear out that she was born in Virginia. Records on the other children indicate Kentucky, New York and Alabama. As far as I know there is no record that shows who the parents of George or his wife were either. There is a good possibility that George's parents were John Dowell and Unknown Thompson and that his step-mother was Sarah Hickman. However, the papers I have do not give the date of birth of that particular George and it is pure conjecture on my part. This does seem to be the most likely case as far as time frame, the names involved, etc. As near as I can tell, all of the Dowell's that lived in or near Arroyo Grande were the descendants of James and Lousia.