Happy Birthday, Davy Crockett

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“Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee…”  Anyone that was a child in the 1950s will recognize this theme song to the TV show Davy Crockett and remember his famous coon skin cap every boy wanted to wear.  While we may imagine Fess Parker as the main character, the real Davy Crockett was much more three dimensional than the character portrayed on TV.

David Crockett

In actuality, David Crockett did not like to be called Davy.  He preferred to go by David.

David Crockett was born on August 17, 1786 in Limestone, North Carolina. 

At the age of 12, his father indentured him to pay outstanding debts the family had accumulated. David then worked as an apprentice to John Canady for the next four years. 

On August 16, 1806, David married Polly Finley.  The couple would have two sons and a daughter together.  Polly died in early 1815, shortly after the birth of their daughter.

By this time, David was already in the Tennessee militia and served in the War of 1812.  He fought with General Andrew Jackson.

David Crockett

Returning home from war, he informed his friend and neighbor’s wife, Elizabeth Patton, that her husband {and first cousin} had been killed in battle.  The widow was left with two young children and the widower David began to pursue her in need of a mother for his own children.  He visited her home in Swannanoa, NC, where he would shoot his rifle with his soon to be father-in-law, Robert Patton.

David and Elizabeth were married in late 1815 and shortly thereafter moved to Western Tennessee. 

Elizabeth did not find David to be a steady husband, as he was often away from home on hunting and military expeditions.  She was left to run the home and raise the children, including the three they had together.

By 1817, David was into politics.  In 1821, he was a member of the TN General Assembly.  By 1824, he was elected to the US House of Representatives.

Andrew Jackson in military uniform

He opposed his old general, President Andrew Jackson, on the Indian Removal Act.

 During his last term in office, he collaborated with KY Congressman Thomas Chilton to write his autobiography.

In 1834, he was defeated for re-election.  He stated “I told the people of my district that I would serve them as faithfully as I had done; but if not, they might go to hell and I would go to Texas.”

Go to Texas he did, in late 1835 to help the territory fight for independence from Mexico.

The Alamo

David Crockett was killed at the Battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836 at the age of 49.  Sometime would pass before his family  received word of his fate. 

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