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Davy Crockett

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David "Davy" Crockett
David Crockett.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 12th district
In office
March 4, 1833 – March 4, 1835
Preceded by District created
Succeeded by Adam Huntsman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1827 – March 4, 1831
Preceded by Adam Rankin Alexander
Succeeded by William Fitzgerald
Personal details
Born David Crockett
(1786-08-17)August 17, 1786
Limestone, Greene County, U.S.
(then part of North Carolina)
Died March 6, 1836(1836-03-06) (aged 49)
Alamo Mission, San Antonio, Texas
Political party National Republican (aka Anti-Jacksonian)
Spouse(s) Polly Finley (1806–1815; her death)
Elizabeth Patton (1815–1836; his death)
Occupation Pioneer, soldier, politician
Religion Presbyterian

David "Davy" Crockett (August 17, 1786 – March 6, 1836) was a 19th-century American folk hero, frontiersman, soldier, and politician. He is commonly referred to in popular culture by the epithet "King of the Wild Frontier". He represented Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives and served in the Texas Revolution.

Crockett grew up in East Tennessee, where he gained a reputation for hunting and storytelling. After being made a colonel in the militia of Lawrence County, Tennessee, he was elected to the Tennessee state legislature in 1821. In 1825, Crockett was elected to the U.S. Congress, where he vehemently opposed many of the policies of President Andrew Jackson, most notably the Indian Removal Act. Crockett's opposition to Jackson's policies led to his defeat in the 1831 elections. He won again in 1833, then narrowly lost in 1835, prompting his angry departure to Texas (then the Mexican state of Tejas) shortly thereafter. In early 1836, Crockett took part in the Texas Revolution and was killed at the Battle of the Alamo in March.

Crockett became famous in his own lifetime for larger-than-life exploits popularized by stage plays and almanacs. After his death, he continued to be credited with acts of mythical proportion. These led in the 20th century to television and movie portrayals, and he became one of the best-known American folk heroes.[1][2]

Family and early life

The Crocketts were of Irish, English, Scottish and French-Huguenot ancestry.[3] The earliest known paternal ancestor was Gabriel Gustave de Crocketagne, whose son Antoine de Saussure Peronette de Crocketagne[4] was given a commission in the Household Troops under French King Louis XIV. Antoine married Louise de Saix[5] and immigrated to Ireland with her, changing the family name to Crockett.[6] Their son Joseph Louis[7][6] was born in Ireland and married Sarah Stewart.[8] Joseph and Sarah immigrated to New York, where their son William David was born in 1709.[9] He married Elizabeth Boulay.[10] William and Elizabeth's son David[11] was born in Pennsylvania and married Elizabeth Hedge.[12] They were the parents of William, David Jr., Robert, Alexander, James, Joseph and John,[lower-alpha 1] the father of David Crockett who died at the Alamo.

John was born c. 1753 in Frederick County, Virginia.[13] The family moved to Tryon County, North Carolina c. 1768. In 1776, the family moved to northeast Tennessee, in the area now known as Hawkins County.[15] John was one of the Overmountain Men who fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolutionary War.[16] While John was away as a militia volunteer in 1777, David and Elizabeth were killed at their home near today's Rogersville by Creeks and Chickamauga Cherokees led by war chief Dragging Canoe.[17][18] John's brother Joseph was wounded in the skirmish. His brother James was taken prisoner and held for seventeen years.[19]

Commemorative stone
Replica cabin at Crockett birthsite

John married Rebecca Hawkins in 1780.[20] When their son David was born August 17, 1786,[21] they named him after John's father.[lower-alpha 2] David was born in what is now Greene County, Tennessee (at the time part of North Carolina), close to the Nolichucky River, near the community of Limestone.[lower-alpha 3] John continually struggled to make ends meet, and in 1792, the Crocketts moved to a tract of land on Lick Creek.[28] Selling that tract of land in 1794, John moved the family to Cove Creek and built a gristmill with partner Thomas Galbraith.[29] A flood destroyed the gristmill and the Crockett homestead. In 1792, the Crocketts moved to Mossy Creek in Jefferson County. John forfeited his property in bankruptcy in 1795.[30] The Crocketts moved onto property owned by a Quaker by the name of John Canady.[lower-alpha 4] At Morristown in the Southwest Territory, John built a tavern on a stage coach route.[lower-alpha 5]

When David was 12 years old, his father indentured him to Jacob Siler to help with the Crockett family indebtedness. David helped tend Siler's cattle as a buckaroo on a 400-mile trip to near Natural Bridge in Virginia. He was well treated and paid for his services, but after several weeks in Virginia decided to return home to Tennessee.[35] The next year, John enrolled his sons in school. After an altercation with a fellow student, David played hookey from school. Upon learning of this, John attempted to whip David but was outrun by his son. David joined a cattle drive to Front Royal, Virginia for Jesse Cheek.[36] Upon completion of that trip, he joined teamster Adam Myers on a trip to Gerrardstown, West Virginia.[37] In between trips with Myers, he worked for farmer John Gray.[38] After leaving Myers, he journeyed to Christiansburg, where he apprenticed for the next four years with hatter Elijah Griffith.[39]

In 1802 he journeyed by foot back to his father's tavern in Tennessee.[40] His father was in debt to Abraham Wilson for $36, so David was hired out to Wilson to pay off the debt.[41] Later, Crockett worked off a $40 debt to John Canady.[42] Once the debts were paid, John Crockett told his son he was free to leave. David returned to Canady's employment, where he stayed for four years.[43]

Contract of marriage for David Crockett and Margaret Elder, October 21, 1805

Marriages and children

Crockett fell in love with John Canady's niece Amy Summer, who was unavailable to him due to her engagement to Canady's son Robert.[44] While serving as part of the wedding party, Crockett met Margaret Elder. He persuaded her to marry him, and a marriage contract was drawn up on October 21, 1805.[45] Margaret had also become engaged to another young man at the same time and married him instead.[46]

He met Polly Finley and her mother Jean at a harvest festival.[47] Although friendly towards him in the beginning, Jean Finley eventually felt Crockett was not the man for her daughter.[48] Crockett declared his intentions to marry Polly, regardless of whether the ceremony was allowed to take place in her parents home or had to be performed elsewhere. He arranged for a justice of the peace and took out a marriage license on August 12, 1806. On August 16, he rode to Polly's house with family and friends, determined to ride off with Polly to be married elsewhere. Polly's father pleaded with Crockett to have the wedding in the Finley home. Crockett agreed only after Jean apologized for her past treatment of him.[49]

The newlyweds settled on land near Polly's parents, and their first child, John Wesley Crockett, who became a United States Congressman,[50] was born July 10, 1807.[51] Their second child, William Finley Crockett, was born November 25, 1808.[51] In October 1811, the family relocated to Lincoln County.[52] Their third child Margaret Finley (Polly) Crockett was born on November 25, 1812.[53] The Crocketts then moved to Franklin County in 1813. He named the new home on Beans Creek "Kentuck." [54] His wife Polly died in March 1815,[55] and Crockett asked his brother John and his sister-in-law to move in with him to help care for the children.[56] That same year, he married the widow Elizabeth Patton, who had a daughter, Margaret Ann, and a son, George.[57] David and Elizabeth's son, Robert Patton, was born September 16, 1816.[58] Daughter Rebecca Elvira was born December 25, 1818.[59] Daughter Matilda was born August 2, 1821.[60]

David Crockett family tree

Tennessee militia

US postage stamp, issue of 1967

Andrew Jackson was appointed major general of the Tennessee militia in 1802.[84] The Fort Mims massacre near Mobile, Mississippi Territory, on August 30, 1813, became a rallying cry for the Creek War.[85] On September 20, Crockett left his family and enlisted as a scout for an initial term of 90 days with Francis Jones's Company of Mounted Rifleman,[86] part of the Second Regiment of Volunteer Mounted Riflemen.[87] They served under Colonel John Coffee in the war, marching south into present-day Alabama and taking an active part in the fighting.[88] Crockett often hunted wild game for the soldiers, and felt better suited to that role than the killing of Creek warriors and families.[89] He served until December 24, 1813.[90]

The War of 1812 was being waged concurrently with the Creek War. After the Treaty of Fort Jackson in August 1814, Andrew Jackson, now with the U.S. Army, wanted the British forces ousted from Spanish Florida[91] and asked for support from the Tennessee militia. Crockett re-enlisted as third sergeant for a six-month term with the Tennessee Mounted Gunmen under Captain John Cowan on September 28, 1814.[92] Because they were days behind the rest of the troops, Crockett's unit saw little of the main action and was focused mostly on foraging for food. Crockett returned home in December.[93] He was still on a military reserve status until March 1815, so he hired a young man to fulfill the remainder of his service.[94]

Legislative career

Davy Crockett by William Henry Huddle, 1889

In 1817, Crockett moved the family to new acreage in Lawrence County, where he first entered public office as a commissioner helping to configure the new county's boundaries.[95] On November 25, the state legislature appointed him county justice of the peace.[96] On March 27, 1818, he was elected lieutenant colonel of the Fifty-seventh Regiment of Tennessee Militia, defeating candidate Daniel Matthews for the position.[97] By 1819, Crockett was operating multiple businesses in the area and felt his public responsibilities were beginning to consume so much of his time and energy that he had little left for either family or business. He resigned from the office of justice of the peace and from his position with the regiment.[98]

Tennessee General Assembly

In 1821, he resigned as commissioner and successfully ran for a seat in the Tennessee General Assembly,[99] representing Lawrence and Hickman counties.[100] It was this election where Crockett honed his anecdotal oratory skills.[101] He was appointed to the Committee of Propositions and Grievances on September 17, 1821, and served through the first session that ended November 17, as well as the special session called by the governor in the summer of 1822, ending on August 24.[102][103] He favored legislation to ease the tax burden on the poor.[104] Crockett spent his entire legislative career fighting for the rights of impoverished settlers whom he felt dangled on the precipice of losing title to their land due to the state's complicated system of grants.[105][104] He supported 1821 gubernatorial candidate William Carroll, over Andrew Jackson's endorsed candidate Edward Ward.[106]

Less than two weeks after Crockett's 1821 election to the General Assembly, a flood of the Tennessee River destroyed Crockett's businesses.[107] In November, Elizabeth's father Robert Patton deeded 800 acres of his Carroll County property to Crockett.[108] Crockett sold off most of the acreage to help settle his debts, and moved his family to the remaining acreage on the Obion River, which remained in Carroll County until 1825 when the boundaries were reconfigured and put it in Gibson County.[109] In 1823, he ran against Andrew Jackson's nephew-in-law William Edward Butler [110] and won a seat in the General Assembly representing the counties of Carroll, Humphreys, Perry, Henderson and Madison.[111] He served in the first session, which ran from September through the end of November 1823, and in the second session that ran September through the end of November 1824, championing the rights of the impoverished farmers.[112] During Andrew Jackson's election to the United States Senate in 1823, Crockett backed his opponent John Williams.[113]

United States House of Representatives

On October 25, 1824, Crockett notified his constituents of his intention to run in the 1825 election for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He lost that election to the incumbent Adam Rankin Alexander.[114] A chance meeting in 1826 gained him the encouragement of Memphis mayor Marcus Brutus Winchester[115] to try again to win a seat in Congress.[116] The Jackson Gazette published a letter from Crockett on September 15, 1826, announcing his intention of again challenging Rankin, stating his opposition to the policies of President John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State Henry Clay and Rankin's position on the cotton tariff.[117] Militia veteran William Arnold also entered the race, and Crockett easily defeated both political opponents for the two-year term March 4, 1827 – March 3, 1829.[118][119] He arrived in Washington D.C. and took up residence at Mrs. Ball's Boarding House, where a number of other legislators lived when Congress was in session.[120] Jackson was elected as President of the United States in 1828. Crockett continued his legislative focus on settlers getting a fair deal for land titles, offering H.R. 27 amendment to a bill sponsored by James K. Polk.[121]

I believed it was a wicked, unjust measure ... I voted against this Indian bill, and my conscience yet tells me that I gave a good honest vote, and one that I believe will not make me ashamed in the day of judgement.

David Crockett, A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett[122]

He was re-elected for the March 4, 1829 – March 3, 1831 session,[123] once again defeating Adam Rankin Alexander.[124] Crockett introduced H.R. 185 amendment to the land bill on January 29, 1830. The amendment was defeated May 3, 1830.[121] On February 25, 1830, Crockett introduced a resolution to abolish the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York,[125] because he felt it was public money going to benefit the sons of wealthy men.[126] He spoke out against Congress giving a lump sum amount of $100,000 to the widow of Stephen Decatur, citing that Congress was not empowered to do that.[127] Crockett opposed Jackson's 1830 Indian Removal Act, and was the only member of the Tennessee delegation to vote against it.[128] Cherokee chief John Ross sent him a letter on January 13, 1831, expressing his thanks for Crockett's vote.[129] His vote was not popular with his own district, and in 1831 he was defeated in the election by William Fitzgerald.[130]

Crockett ran against Fitzgerald again in the 1833 election and was returned to Congress, serving until 1835.[131][103] On January 2, 1834, Crockett introduced the land title resolution H.R. 126, but it never made it as far as being open for debate on the House floor.[121] He was defeated for re-election in the August 1835 election by Adam Huntsman.[132] During his last term in Congress, Crockett collaborated with Kentucky Congressman Thomas Chilton to write his autobiography, which was published by E. L. Carey and A. Hart in 1834 as A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, Written by Himself .[133] Crockett went east to promote the book. In 1836, newspapers published the now-famous quote attributed to Crockett upon his return to his home state. He said, "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."[134]

Texas Revolution

Portrait of Davy Crockett by John Gadsby Chapman

By December 1834, Crockett was writing to friends about moving to Texas if Van Buren were elected President. The next year he discussed with his friend Benjamin McCulloch raising a company of volunteers to take to Texas in the expectation that a revolution was imminent.[135] After the election results became known in August, his departure to Texas was delayed by a court appearance in the last week of October as co-executor of his deceased father-in-law's estate, and he finally left his home near Rutherford in West Tennessee on Nov. 1, 1835, with three other men to explore Texas.[136]His youngest child, Matilda, later wrote that she distinctly remembered the last time she saw her father: "He was dressed in his hunting suit, wearing a coonskin cap, and carried a fine rifle presented to him by friends in Philadelphia ... He seemed very confident the morning he went away that he would soon have us all to join him in Texas."[137] From his home he traveled to Jackson, arriving there with 30 well-armed men, where he gave a speech from the steps of the Madison County courthouse, and then rode southwest to Bolivar, where he spent the night at residence of Dr. Calvin Jones, once again drawing crowds who sent him off the next morning.[138] He arrived in Memphis in the second week of November with a much-diminished company, and ferried over the Mississippi River the next day and continued his journey on horseback through Arkansas.[139]

On November 12, 1835, Crockett and his entourage arrived in Little Rock, Arkansas. The local newspapers reported that hundreds of people swarmed into town to get a look at Crockett, and a group of leading citizens put on a dinner in his honor that night at the Jeffries Hotel. Crockett spoke "mainly to the subject of Texan independence," as well as Washington politics.[140]

He arrived in Nacogdoches, Texas, in early January 1836. On January 14, 1836, Crockett and 65 other men signed an oath before Judge John Forbes to the Provisional Government of Texas for six months: "I have taken the oath of government and have enrolled my name as a volunteer and will set out for the Rio Grande in a few days with the volunteers from the United States." Each man was promised about 4,600 acres (19 km2) of land as payment. He also sold two rifles to Colonel O'Neal for $60. (After his death there was a claim for his heirs for $57.50. In 1854 his widow received a payment certificate for $24.00 from Texas.) On February 6, Crockett and about five other men rode into San Antonio de Bexar and camped just outside the town. They were later greeted by James Bowie and Antonio Menchaca, and taken to the home of Don Erasmo Seguin.

The Fall of the Alamo by Robert Jenkins Onderdonk depicts Davy Crockett swinging his rifle at Mexican troops who have breached the south gate of the mission.

Crockett arrived at the Alamo on February 8.[141] On February 23, to the surprise of the men garrisoned in the Alamo, a Mexican army led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna arrived. The Mexican soldiers immediately initiated a siege.[142][143] Santa Anna ordered his artillery to keep up a near-constant bombardment. The guns were moved closer to the Alamo each day, increasing their effectiveness. On February 25, 200–300 Mexican soldiers crossed the San Antonio River and took cover in abandoned shacks approximately 90 yards (82 m) to 100 yards (91 m) from the Alamo walls.[144][145]The soldiers intended to use the huts as cover to establish another artillery position, although many Texians assumed that they actually were launching an assault on the fort.[146] Several men volunteered to burn the huts.[147] To provide cover, the Alamo cannons fired grapeshot at the Mexican soldiers, and Crockett and his men fired rifles, while other defenders reloaded extra weapons for them to use in maintaining a steady fire. Within 90 minutes, the battle was over,[146] and the Mexican soldiers retreated.[148] Inside the Alamo, the stores of powder and shot were limited. On February 26, Alamo commander William Barret Travis ordered the artillery to stop returning fire so as to conserve precious ammunition. Crockett and his men were encouraged to keep shooting, as they were unusually effective.[149]

A knife purportedly used by Davy Crockett during the Battle of the Alamo

As the siege progressed, Travis sent many messages asking for reinforcements. Several messengers were sent to James Fannin, who commanded the only other official group of Texian soldiers. Fannin and several hundred Texians occupied Presidio La Bahia at Goliad. Although Fannin ultimately decided it was too risky to attempt to reinforce the Alamo, historian Thomas Ricks Lindley concludes that up to 50 of Fannin's men left his command to go to Bexar.[150] These men would have reached Cibolo Creek, 35 miles (56 km) from the Alamo, on the afternoon of March 3. There they joined another group of men who also planned to join the garrison.[151]

That same night, outside the Alamo, there was a skirmish between Mexican and Texian troops.[152] Several historians, including Walter Lord, speculated that the Texians were creating a diversion to allow their last courier, John Smith, to evade Mexican pickets.[152] However, in 1876, Alamo survivor Susannah Dickinson said that Travis sent three men out shortly after dark on March 3, probably a response to the arrival of Mexican reinforcements. The three men, who included Crockett, were sent to find Fannin.[153] Lindley stated that just before midnight, Crockett and one of the other men found the force of Texians waiting along Cibolo Creek, who had advanced to within 20 miles (32 km) of the Alamo. Just before daylight on March 4, part of the Texian force managed to break through the Mexican lines and enter the Alamo. A second group was driven across the prairie by Mexican cavalry.[154]

The siege ended on March 6, when the Mexican army attacked just before dawn while the defenders were sleeping. The daily bombardment by artillery had been suspended, perhaps a ploy to encourage the natural human reaction to a cessation of constant strain. But the garrison awakened and the final fight began. Most of the noncombatants gathered in the church sacristy for safety. According to Dickinson, before running to his post, Crockett paused briefly in the chapel to say a prayer.[155] When the Mexican soldiers breached the north outer walls of the Alamo complex, most of the Texians fell back to the barracks and the chapel, as previously planned.[156] Crockett and his men were too far from the barracks to take shelter.[157] and were the last remaining group in the mission to be in the open. The men defended the low wall in front of the church, using their rifles as clubs and relying on knives, as the action was too furious to allow reloading. After a volley and a charge with bayonets, Mexican soldiers pushed the few remaining defenders back toward the church.[158] The Battle of the Alamo lasted almost 90 minutes.[159]

A coffin in the San Fernando Cathedral purports to hold the ashes of the Alamo defenders. However, historians believe it more probable that the ashes were buried near the Alamo.

Once all of the defenders had been killed, Santa Anna ordered his men to take the bodies to a nearby stand of trees, where they were stacked together and wood piled on top.[160] That evening, a fire was lit and the bodies of the defenders were burned to ashes.[161]

The ashes were left undisturbed until February 1837, when Juan Seguin and his cavalry returned to Bexar to examine the remains. A local carpenter created a simple coffin, and ashes from the funeral pyres were placed inside. The names of Travis, Crockett, and Bowie were inscribed on the lid.[162] The coffin is thought to have been buried in a peach tree grove, but the spot was not marked and can no longer be identified.[163]


The David Crockett Spring in Crockett in Houston County in east Texas

All that is certain about the fate of David Crockett is that he died fighting at the Alamo on the morning of March 6, 1836, at age 49. According to many accounts of the battle, between five and seven Texans surrendered during the battle, possibly to General Castrillon.[164][165] Incensed that his orders to take no prisoners had been ignored, Santa Anna demanded the immediate execution of the survivors. Although Castrillon and several other officers refused to do so, staff officers who had not participated in the fighting drew their swords and killed the unarmed Texians.[166]


Weeks after the battle, stories began to circulate that Crockett was among those who surrendered and were executed.[165] However, Ben, a former American slave who acted as cook for one of Santa Anna's officers, maintained that Crockett's body was found in the barracks surrounded by "no less than sixteen Mexican corpses", with Crockett's knife buried in one of them.[167] Historians disagree on which story is accurate. According to Petite, "every account of the Crockett surrender-execution story comes from an avowed antagonist (either on political or military grounds) of Santa Anna's. It is believed that many stories, such as the surrender and execution of Crockett, were created and spread in order to discredit Santa Anna and add to his role as villain."[168]

In 1955, Jesús Sánchez Garza self-published a book called La Rebelión de Texas—Manuscrito Inédito de 1836 por un Ofical de Santa Anna purporting to be memoirs of José Enrique de la Peña, a Mexican officer present at the Battle of the Alamo. In 1975, the Texas A&M University Press published an English translation of the book, called With Santa Anna in Texas: A Personal Narrative of the Revolution. The English publication caused a scandal within the United States, as it asserted that Crockett did not die in battle.[169] Historians disagree on whether any or all of the book has been falsified.[169][170] Because the original book was self-published, no editor or publisher ever vetted its authenticity.[171] Sánchez Garza never explained how he gained custody of the documents or where they were stored after de la Peña's death.[172]

Some historians, including Bill Groneman, found it suspicious that Sánchez Garza's compilation was published in 1955, at the height of interest in Crockett and the Alamo caused by Walt Disney's television miniseries about Crockett's life, Davy Crockett. Groneman also points out that the journals are made up of several different types of paper from several different paper manufacturers, all cut down to fit.[172] Historian Joseph Musso also questions the validity, likewise basing his suspicions on the timing of the diaries' release.

"The document's most energetic defender has been historian James Crisp, who found an 1839 pamphlet by de la Peña in which the Mexican said he was preparing his diary for publication - proof that, if nothing else, the Sanchez Garza text had a historical basis. Finally, in 2001, archivist David Gracy published a detailed analysis of the manuscript, including lab results. He found, among other things, that the paper and ink were of a type used by the Mexican army in the 1830s, and the handwriting matched that on other documents in the Mexican military archives that were written or signed by de la Peña."[173]

Furthermore, Catherine Williamson manuscript cataloguer at Butterfield & Butterfield said: "De la Peña's memoir was written on a high rag content paper typical of the early 19th century. The watermarks tell us the paper was produced in Lisbon between 1825 and 1832. If something had indicated to us the paper was made after that period or was from the 20th century and clearly a fake, we would not be offering it for sale. We're satisfied that it is what it is." Butterfield officials believe the eyewitness journal could fetch between $200,000 and $300, 000.[174]

In de la Peña's narrative, he adds a footnote which may align both versions. He states that "All of the enemy perished, there remaining alive only an elderly lady and a Negro slave, whom the soldiers spared out of mercy and because we had established that only force had kept them in danger." (Perry 1975) This implies that the summary execution of the survivors may have occurred prior to the releasing of Dickinson and Joe, so that they observed Crockett as dead, lending credence to their testimony. De la Peña describes the disposal of the dead and wounded as an ongoing process that took some time.

First, no other accounts of Crockett's surviving the Alamo have surfaced besides de la Peña's diary. No documentation in the archives of the Mexican government, nor any of the personal records of others present at the Battle of the Alamo, give any hint of survivors amongst the defenders, much less any claiming Crockett as a survivor. Secondly, there is some speculation that de la Peña's account may have been a deliberate fabrication, with the intention of presenting Santa Anna in a far more diabolical light than American (and especially Texan) historians have given him since the fall of the Alamo.

David Crockett clipper ship card

The written account by de la Peña, even if a legitimate writing, has also been questioned in that many doubt his abilities to identify any of the Alamo defenders by name. It is a popular belief by many historians that de la Peña may have witnessed or been told about executions of some Alamo survivors, but in fact neither he nor his comrades would have known who these men were. Part of the reason that de la Peña's memoirs are questioned comes from his detailed account of Col. William Travis' death in With Santa Anna in Texas. In that account, he describes with detail how Travis was heroic in his final moments, turning straight into the Mexican soldiers and facing his death with honor. The problem with this: how would de la Peña have been able to distinguish Travis from any of the other defenders of the Alamo? The freed former slave to Travis, Joe, claimed Travis died early on in the battle, on the north wall. In addition to this, the Mexican Army had not breached the walls of the Alamo when Travis was killed, therefore they would have been seeing him from an area below the walls, while being fired down upon by the defenders. To add to this, Travis was killed before daybreak, meaning it was still dark. Therefore, it is believed that de la Peña either created the scenario of Travis' death, or he saw another of the defenders after breaching the walls, and took him to be Travis.[175]


One of Crockett's sayings, which were published in almanacs between 1835 and 1856 (along with those of Daniel Boone and Kit Carson), was: Always be sure you are right, then go ahead.[176]

While serving in the United States House of Representatives, Crockett became a Freemason. He entrusted his masonic apron to the Weakly Lodge in Tennessee before leaving for Texas, and it still survives today.[177]

In 1967 the U.S. Postal Service issued a 5-cent stamp commemorating Davy Crockett.[178]


Col. Crockett statue, Lawrenceburg Public Square




  • M28 Davy Crockett Weapon System: a small Nuclear weapons system, the smallest developed by the U.S. which could be fired from a light vehicle, or even from a Shoulder-mounted launcher.[189]


In popular culture

Fess Parker as Crockett addresses the city of Philadelphia in the Walt Disney television miniseries

In television


Crockett's legend was reborn in a 1950s TV show by Walt Disney, which also introduced his legendary coonskin cap. In 1948, Disney told columnist Hedda Hopper that it was "time to get acquainted, or renew acquaintance with, the robust, cheerful, energetic and representative folk heroes".[195]

Discovery Channel

A seventh-season episode of the Discovery Channel series MythBusters explored a story of Crockett's backwoods exploits: that he could stick an axe into a tree trunk, fire his long rifle from 40 yards away, and hit the edge so precisely that the bullet would split in two. After some practice, Tory Belleci was able to duplicate the feat from 20 yards with the gun resting on sandbags and declared the myth "Confirmed," reasoning that Crockett could have consistently made the 40-yard shot with enough experience.


"The Ballad of Davy Crockett"[196] from the Disney TV show had four different versions of the song hit the Billboard Best Sellers pop chart in 1955. The versions by Bill Hayes, TV series star Fess Parker, and Tennessee Ernie Ford charted in the Top 10 simultaneously,[197] with Hayes' version hitting #1.[198]

In films

In films, Crockett has been played by:


Prose fiction

Crockett appears in at least two short alternate history works: "Chickasaw Slave" by Judith Moffett in Alternate Presidents, where Crockett is the seventh President of the United States, and "Empire" by William Sanders in Alternate Generals volume 2, where Crockett fights for Emperor Napoleon I of Louisiana in an conflict analogous to the War of 1812.

See also



  1. Historians believe there were more children of William David and Elizabeth, but that not all the records have yet been found.[13][14]
  2. The number of David's siblings is not fully known. Nine children of John and Rebecca have been verified by historians and Crockett descendants: Nathan, William, Aaron, James, David, John, Elizabeth, Rebecca and Margaret Catharine.[22][23][6][24]
  3. At the time of David Crockett's birth the surrounding area was part of an autonomous territory known as the State of Franklin. John Crockett was active in local politics and an advocate of the independent State of Franklin.[25][26] A replica of David's birthplace cabin stands near the site, now situated in the Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park[27]
  4. John Canady's name was erroneously spelled as Kennedy in Crockett's autobiography, and in some books where the author used Crockett as the source.[31][32][33]
  5. Crockett Tavern Museum now stands on the site.[30][34]


  1. Abramson, Haskell & Lofaro 2006, pp. 300–301.
  2. Lofaro, Michael A (December 2010). "David "Davy" Crockett". Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Retrieved 24 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Winders 2001, p. 9.
  4. Antoine de Saussure Peronette de Crocketagne at Find a Grave
  5. Louise de Saix at Find a Grave
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 DRT 2001, p. 43.
  7. Joseph Louis Crockett at Find a Grave
  8. Sarah Gilbert Stewart at Find a Grave
  9. 9.0 9.1 William David Crockett at Find a Grave
  10. Elizabeth Boulay at Find a Grave
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Further reading

Numerous books have been written about David Crockett, including the first one that bears his name as its author.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Adam Rankin Alexander
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 9th congressional district

Succeeded by
William Fitzgerald
Preceded by
District created
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 12th congressional district

Succeeded by
Adam Huntsman