By Den Ardinger 32° KCCH
Davy Crockett, known by many as “King of the Wild Frontier”, was born David Crockett in what is today Greene County, Tennessee on August 17, 1786. He was the son of John Crockett and Rebecca Hawkins. In 1792 the family moved to Lick Creek and in 1794 moved to Cove Creek and built a gristmill. After their house and mill were destroyed by a flood they moved again always looking for that one place they could be successful. John Crockett went bankrupt in 1795 and the family moved to Morristown in the Southwest Territory where he built a tavern.
At the age of 12, Davy was indentured to a rancher named Jacob Siler as a cowboy for a 400-mile cattle drive to Natural Bridge, Virginia. This stimulated Davy’s sense of adventure and in the years that followed he signed on with other teamsters for other cattle drives. He then indentured himself as an apprentice to Elijah Griffith, a “hatter”, for four years and in 1802 returned home to help pay his family’s other debts.
Davy married Polly Finley in August 1806 at the age of 20 and the young family settled on land near the Finley homestead where they had three children before moving to Franklin County in 1813. In March 1815 disaster struck and Polly died. Davy’s brother John and his family then moved in with him to help care for his three children. Later that year he married a widow, Elizabeth Patton, and her two children were combined with the household. In 1816 they had a son with two more daughters following in 1818 and 1821.
All able bodied men were part of the militia along the frontier and during the Creek War in 1813 he signed on as a scout with Francis Jones’s Company of Mounted Riflemen and marched into Alabama and took part in the fighting. He served until December 24, 1813 but reenlisted as a third sergeant in 1814 and served until December.
Crockett moved his family in 1817 to Lawrence County and worked as a commissioner helping to establish the county’s boundaries. Here he was quickly appointed the county Justice of the Peace. On March 27, 1818 he was elected lieutenant colonel of the 57th Regiment of Tennessee Militia.
In 1821, he successfully ran for a seat in the Tennessee General Assembly for Lawrence and Hickman Counties. This began his political career and is where he became widely known for protecting the rights of poor farmers. It was here he also became known for telling tall tales and for honing his oratory skills. In 1827 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives and served several terms until 1835.
It was at this time Davy became a Master Mason. Unfortunately, the details of his Masonic journey have been lost since his Lodge and records in Weakley County were burned during the Civil War. However, his Masonic Apron, made for him when he was a Congressman, survives. Before leaving for Texas, Davy Crockett entrusted the Apron to the Weakley County sheriff where it was preserved and inherited.
In 1834 he wrote his autobiography, “A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, Written by Himself.” In 1836, newspapers published portions of it including his quote to his constituents, “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.”
In August 1835 he was defeated by the voters and on November 1st headed for Texas with 30 other men. They arrived in Texas in January 1836 and on February 6th were camped just outside San Antonio de Bexar. On February 8th they arrived at the Alamo Mission.
On February 23rd, the Mexican Army under General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna surrounded the mission and began a siege prefaced with a constant artillery bombardment. On February 25th the first attack was made on the Alamo but was successfully beaten off by the defenders.
On March 6, 1836 the Mexican Army attacked in force just before dawn. Outnumbered 15 to 1 the defenders had little chance. Memoirs of the battle record that Crockett and his men fought in the open while others backed into the barracks and chapel. The heroic tale of the ending records that Crockett and his men were among the last to die and fought using their rifles as clubs to the very end. Eventually, later that morning, they were overwhelmed by a volley and bayonet charge by Mexican soldiers in front of the church.
The histories of the ending vary but the result was the same; the Alamo was taken and Davy Crockett’s reputation forever became a legend.
Davy Crockett, more than a man, a Mason.