Davy Crockett is considered an American folk hero and is commonly associated with his battles during several major wars and at the Alamo. His fame soon started to become popularized in plays, novels, movies, TV shows, and more. However, Crockett might be somewhat different than how he is portrayed in the media. Continue reading to get to know the absolute truth about this wild frontier man.
He Was Born In A Non-Existent State
The iconic Davy Crockett was born on August 17, 1786, in the eastern section of Tennessee. At the time, the area was actually a breakaway territory from North Carolina.
It was an independent territory called Franklin. Franklin was reclaimed by North Carolina a few years later. Then, the territory became the state of Tennessee.
He Ran Away From Home
Like many school-aged kids, Crockett was a victim of bullying. When he was 13, he decided to get revenge and beat up his tormenters.
Afraid of the consequences, he started ditching school. When his father learned of this, Crockett ran away from home and stayed away for about three years.
He Was A Skilled Hunter And Woodsman
During the time Crockett had run away from home, he made sure to train himself on the ways of the frontier.
Crockett soon became quite a skilled hunter and woodsman. He was mostly known as an expert bear hunter. He managed to execute 105 bears over the course of seven months and sold the oils from their fat, pelts, and flesh for a hefty profit.
He Served In Several Wars
One of the first wars Crockett served in was the Creek War where he and thousands of other Tennessee men fought against Creek Indians. There, Crockett worked as a scout and wild game hunter.
He served under Andrew Jackson in both the Creek War and the War of 1812. However, he rarely spent time on the battlefield.
Life After Politics
After he got out of the military, Crockett went on to complete two terms as a Tennessee state legislator. After losing his seat in 1825, he started a new profession.
He began a barrel manufacturing business. When he was on a boat traveling down the Mississippi River with his cargo, it began to capsize. Crockett was rescued at the last minute by his shipmates.
The History Behind The David Crockett State Park
In the Lawrence County and Shoal Creek banks of Tennessee, Crockett was able to start three businesses. They were a powdermill, gristmill, and distillery.
Unfortunately, the establishments were destroyed by a flood in September of 1821. After realizing he couldn’t rebuild, he headed West to start his congressional career. The area of the flood is now known as the David Crockett State Park.
His Time In Congress
After serving as a legislator in Tennessee, Crockett was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. People liked him for his folksy persona and advocacy for the poor.
However, his total opposition to Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act led to his defeat in his final election. He was not able to get a bill passed during his six years in Congress.
A Play Made Him Famous
The public became even more aware of Crockett after the 1831 play, The Lion of the West, premiered in New York City.
It was a fictionalized account of Crockett’s time in Congress. Crockett actually got to see the play when it came to Washington, D.C. and he absolutely loved it.
He Contracted Malaria
Around 1815, Crockett and his neighbors decided to go on an expedition in Alabama. Unfortunately, he soon fell ill with malaria.
The virus started to make his health deteriorate at a rapid pace, so the other travelers left him on the side of the road. Crockett was actually able to recover and returned back home on his own.
He Saved Andrew Jackson’s Life
While Andrew Jackson and Crockett fought constantly, there was actually a time when Crockett saved his life.
On January 30, 1835, a gunman named Richard Lawrence tried to assassinate Jackson outside the U.S. Capitol. When his gun misfired, Crockett was able to disarm him and wrestle him to the ground.
He Faked His Portraits
The idealized image that most have of Davy Crockett might actually not be real. When portrait artists would paint him, he would usually be wearing clothing that was a cross between a Congressman and a preacher.
In order to look more outdoorsy, he purchased special props and outfits. He told artist John Gadsby Chapman to show him rallying dogs during a bear hunt with him holding up his cap in one particular portrait.
Defending The Alamo
After losing his 1835 Congressional election, Crockett decided to relocate to Texas. During this time, it was still a Mexican territory.
The next year, he joined the Texas Revolution and fought at the Battle of the Alamo. Sadly, he did not make it out alive after either being executed in battle or after being captured by the Mexican Army.
Crockett’s Connection To Walt Disney
Davy Crockett’s legacy soon became a huge part of the early 20th century thanks to Walt Disney. He released several TV series and movies about Crockett, which became huge successes.
Soon, children were getting frontier-themed toys and coonskin caps were being sold at a rate of five thousand per day.
The Story Behind His Coonskin Cap
While most fictionalized versions of Davy Crockett show him wearing his coonskin cap, many wonder if he actually wore one in real life.
Historians believe that he would sometimes wear one during his final years. His daughter Matilda even wrote that he was wearing one right before he left for Texas.
The University Of Tennessee Has A Davy Crockett Mascot
Smokey the Hound Dog isn’t the only mascot for the University of Tennessee. The college also has a student dressed up as Davy Crockett to rally the fans.
The character is called “the Volunteer” and will come running out in Crockett-esque clothes, including a prop musket, leather shirt and pants, and a coonskin cap.
Crockett Grew Up Poor
Davy was the son of John Crockett and Rebecca Hawkins. Their family had to move around a lot during Davy’s childhood because his father struggled to make ends meet.
His father filed for bankruptcy in 1795 and when Davy was 12, his father indentured him to help pay for his debts.
Unrequited Love For Crockett
Even during the days of the wild frontier, Davy Crockett had to deal with unrequited love. He first fell in love with the niece of the man he was indentured to, but she was already engaged.
Next, he met another woman at the wedding of his first love, but she chose to marry another man instead.
He Became A Freemason
During the time Crockett served in the United States House of Representatives, he became a Freemason. This is one of the largest men-only organizations in the world that dates back to the Middle Ages.
He gave his masonic apron to a close friend in Tennessee before he left for Texas.
Crockett’s Home Life
Crockett was finally able to find love when he married Mary (Polly) Finley on August 14, 1806. They had three children named John, William, and Margaret. John went on to become a U.S. Congressman.
After his wife’s passing, he remarried a widow named Elizabeth Patton. The couple had three children named Robert, Rebecca, and Matilda.
A Cold War Invention Was Named After Him
Davy Crockett’s legacy became even more prevalent during the early and mid 20th century. One example of this was an invention from the Cold War.
The U.S. Army invented a nuclear weapons system called the Davy Crockett Nuke. This was an M-28 or M-29 tactical nuclear recoilless smoothbore gun used for firing the M388 nuclear projectile, armed with the W54 nuclear warhead.