DAVY CROCKETT Biography - Pioneers, Explorers & inventors


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Name: David Stern Crockett                                                                 
Born: 17 August 1786 Greene County, Tennessee                                               
Died: 6 March 1836 Alamo Mission, San Antonio, Republic of Texas                           
Colonel David Stern Crockett (August 17, 1786 - March 6, 1836) was a celebrated             
19th-century American folk hero, frontiersman, soldier and politician; usually             
referred to as Davy Crockett and by the popular title "King of the Wild Frontier".         
He represented Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives, served in the               
Texas Revolution, and died at the age of 49 at the Battle of the Alamo.                     
Crockett was most likely born on August 17, 1786 but as to where is disputed,               
with his birthplace being given as near the Nolichucky River in Greene County,             
Tennessee, in Limestone Cove, Washington County, North Carolina, in Franklin,               
Tennessee, or in Hawkins County, Tennessee. His father's ancestors were of                 
French Huguenot (Anglo-Irish) and Scots-Irish descent while his mother's                   
ancestors appear to have been exclusively English. His paternal great, great               
grandfather, Antoine Louis de Crocketagne of Montauban, France, emigrated to               
County Cork, Ireland in later half of the 17th century before moving to Donegal             
Bay, County Sligo. His son, Joseph Louis Crockett married Sarah Gilbert Stuart             
whose father hailed from County Donegal in Ulster and whose grandfather came               
from Scotland. Joseph and Sarah migrated to New Rochelle, New York in the                   
first decade of the 1700s. Tradition has Davy Crockett's father being born on               
this family's migrational voyage to America but in fact his great grandfather               
William David Crockett who is registered as being born in New Rochelle in 1709.             
Davy Crockett was the fifth of nine children of John and Rebecca Hawkins                   
Crockett. He was named after his paternal grandfather, who was killed at his               
home in present-day Rogersville, Tennessee, by Indians. His father John was one             
of the Overmountain Men who fought in the American Revolutionary War Battle of             
Kings Mountain. The Crocketts moved to Morristown, Tennessee sometime during the           
1790s and built a cabin. A museum now stands on this site and is a                         
reconstruction of that cabin.                                                               
Shortly after being sent to school, he left home to avoid an unfair beating at             
the hands of his father. According to Crockett he apparently had "whupped the               
tar" out of a school bully who had embarrassed him on his first day in class and,           
to avoid a beating at the hands of the overly strict school teacher, began                 
skipping school. After several weeks the teacher wrote to Crockett's father                 
asking why his son wasn't attending class. When questioned Crockett explained               
the situation to his father who apparently was angered that family trade goods             
exchanged for his son's education had gone to waste and refused to listen to his           
son's side of the story. Crockett ran away from home to avoid the expected                 
beating and spent several years roaming from town to town. During this period               
Crockett reports that he visited most of the towns and villages throughout                 
Tennessee and learned the majority of his skills as a backwoodsman, hunter and             
Around his 16th birthday Crockett returned home unannounced. During the years of           
his travels his father had opened a tavern and Crockett had stopped for a meal.             
He was unnoticed by his family but one of his younger sisters recognized him               
with delight. Much to Crockett's surprise, the entire family - including his               
father - were more than happy to see him and Crockett was welcomed back into the           
Shortly afterwards Crockett became engaged to marry Margaret Elder and, although           
the marriage never took place, the contract of marriage (dated October 21, 1805)           
has been preserved by the Dandridge, Tennessee, courthouse. It is well                     
documented that Crockett's bride-to-be changed her mind and married someone else.           
On August 14, 1806, Crockett married Mary (Polly) Finley (1788-1815) at the home           
of Polly's parents in Jefferson County, Tennessee. They had two boys:                       
Congressman John Wesley Crockett was born July 10, 1807, followed by William               
Finley Crockett (born 1809). They also had a daughter, Margaret Finley (Polly)             
Crockett. After Polly's death David remarried in 1816 to a widow named Elizabeth           
Patton and they had three children: Robert, Rebecca and Matilda.                           
On September 24, 1813, Crockett enlisted in the Second Regiment of Tennessee               
Volunteer Mounted Riflemen for ninety days and served under Colonel John Coffee             
in the Creek War, marching south into present day Alabama and taking an active             
part in the fighting including the final victory under Andrew Jackson at the               
Battle of Horseshoe Bend. He was discharged from service on March 27, 1815.                 
Crockett was elected Lieutenant Colonel of the Fifty-seventh Regiment of                   
Tennessee Militia on March 27, 1818.                                                       
On September 17, 1821, Crockett was elected to the Committee of Propositions and           
Grievances. In 1826 and 1828 he was elected to the United States House of                   
Representatives. As a Congressman, Crockett supported the rights of squatters,             
who were barred from buying land in the West without already owning property. He           
also opposed President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act, and his opposition             
to Jackson caused his defeat when he ran for re-election in 1831; however, he               
won when he ran again in 1833.                                                             
Under date of November 26, 1833, John Quincy Adams records in his diary an                 
encounter with Crockett, whom he quotes as saying that he (Crockett) "had taken             
for lodgings two rooms on the first floor of a boarding-house, where he expected           
to pass the winter and to have for a fellow-lodger Major Jack Downing, the only             
person in whom he had any confidence for information of what the Government was             
doing." Diary (New York: Longmans, Green, 1929), p. 445.                                   
In an 1884 book written by dime novelist and non-fiction author Edward                     
S. Ellis, Crockett is attributed as giving a speech critical of his                         
Congressional colleagues who were willing to spend taxpayer dollars to help a               
widow of a U.S. Navy man who had lived beyond his naval service, but would not             
contribute their own salary for a week to the cause. Ellis describes how the               
once popular proposal died in the Congress largely as a result of the speech.               
The authenticity of this speech is questioned; however, since the Register of               
Debates and the Congressional Globe do not contain transcripts of speeches made             
on the house floor, there is no way to know whether the speech is authentic.               
Crockett is on record opposing a similar bill and offering personal support to             
the family of a General Brown in April 1828.                                               
In 1834, his autobiography, titled A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett,               
was published. Crockett went east to promote the book and was narrowly defeated             
for re-election. In 1835, he suffered yet another defeat. He said, "I told the             
people of my district that I would serve them as faithfully as I had done; but             
if not ... you may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas." Following his defeat,           
he did just that.                                                                           
On October 31, 1835, Crockett left Tennessee for Texas, writing "I want to                 
explore Texas well before I return". He traveled along the Kawesch Glenn, a                 
southwest trail with historical insight. 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 kmĀ²) of               
land as payment. On February 6, Crockett and about five other men rode into San             
Antonio de Bexar and camped just outside of the town. They were later greeted by           
James Bowie and Antonio Menchaca and taken to the home of Don Erasmo Seguin.               
William Barret Travis was the commander in charge at the siege at the Alamo. He             
appealed for help against the Mexican forces, to which Crockett responded.                 
The Texas forces of 180-250 were overwhelmed by the attacking 8000 Mexican                 
soldiers. Santa Anna raised a blood red flag which made his message perfectly               
clear. No quarter would be given for the defenders. The estimated number of                 
deaths is 189 Texans and at least 1600 Mexicans. Travis, supported by his                   
entire force except one, refused to surrender.                                             
All that is known for certain about the fate of David Crockett is that he died             
at the Battle of the Alamo. The only survivors on the Texan side were one woman,           
one man, and a child. The most common account of Crockett's fate was that he was           
killed in the final minutes of the siege, having fallen back to the Alamo's                 
redoubt position of the long barracks with the last dozen or so of Travis' men.             
Two eyewitness survivors of the Alamo confirm that Crockett did die in the                 
battle. Susanna Dickinson, the wife of an officer, said that Crockett died in               
the assault and that she saw Crockett's body between the long barracks and the             
chapel, and Travis' slave Joe said he also saw Crockett lying dead with the                 
bodies of slain Mexican soldiers around him.