Davy had a chance to fight that must have satisfied him.
The story of David Crockett stands apart from all others in our history — a nebulous collection of traditions about a great array of facts. To the unnumbered thousands to whom his name is familiar he is often as unreal as the hero of a mediæval romance or of Scandinavian mythology. This book will follow his history with close attention to dates, and without recognition of the impossible legends of many writers. To accomplish this has required much reading and research, much weighing of evidence, and the help of others. The portrait of David Crockett, now for the first time published, is after the original in the Alamo, painted by the famous artist Chapman while Crockett was a Congressman. It is a picture that reveals the secret of his success in winning friends and fame.
For the use of the picture thanks are due to Mrs. Rebecca Fisher, of Austin, Texas, the venerable President of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, and to Mrs. Marie B. Urwitz, the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the same Society. For other favors acknowledgment is made to Miss Jennie Moore, of Flag Pond, Tenn.; Prof. Eric Doolittle, of the University of Pennsylvania; Judge W. T. Rogers, of Denver; Mr. and Mrs. Mark F. Postlewaite, of San Antonio, Texas; and to Richard A. Paddock, for much information in regard to Reelfoot Lake.
It is hoped that this unpretentious volume may help to a better understanding of the life and motives of a man whose footsteps went into no dark places, and who died an honor to his race and his countrymen — a hero sans peur et sans reproche.
Charles Fletcher Allen.
Denver, Colorado, June 2, 1911.
Birthplace in Tennessee — His Irish Blood — Summer-time in the Great Smokies — The Indian signal fires — Little Davy gets fighting mad — His love of weapons — In the Bald Mountains — Davy’s aspirations — John Crockett moves again.
The antecedents of Davy Crockett are Irish, although his mother was Rebecca Hawkins, a native of Maryland, and probably of English descent. After the execution of King Charles I, in the seventeenth century, many Irishmen were transported to North America as rebels, and there sold into a state of slavery among the English colonists. Many of them were sent to Virginia and to the Somers or Bermuda Islands, and in Sir J. H. Lefroy’s “Memorials of Bermuda” occur the names of James Sheehan and David Larragan as two of the slaves bought and sold in those islands. As we might expect, the same records often make mention of the unruly and riotous nature of the Irish rebels, and of the complaints of those who thought the colony might well be rid of them. It was the blood of the fighting race that told, and one by one the slaves became freemen, to follow every bugle-call or rolling drum that has led into the storms of shot and shell on our country’s battlefields.
David Crockett’s grandparents left Ireland for America after the birth of William, their oldest son, and it is supposed that John Crockett, another son, and the father of David, was born during the voyage. The family, which eventually included four boys, settled in Pennsylvania. Here John Crockett lived as a farmer for some time, removing while still a young man to Lincoln County, North Carolina, and afterwards to the Tennessee mountain country. His parents, displaying the same restlessness that characterized the career of David, came into what is now Hawkins County, Tennessee, and settled near the site of the present town of Rogersville. It is not unlikely that the county took its name from the family to which Rebecca Hawkins belonged.
The Creek Indians had now begun to feel the pressure of immigration into their sacred hunting-grounds, and were at all times dangerous, frequent encounters occurring between them and the settlers. Both of Davy’s grandparents were killed during an Indian foray, near the Holston River, in Hawkins County. In this bloody affair their son Joseph had his arm broken by a bullet, though he finally escaped. His brother James, who was deaf and dumb, remained a prisoner for more than seventeen years. It was without doubt due to his being deaf and dumb that he was finally heard of and identified by Davy’s father and uncle William, who paid some sort of a ransom and obtained his freedom. He lived for many years in Cumberland County, Kentucky.
Davy Crockett was the fifth of six sons, and there were three sisters, besides, or nine children in all, in the family of John Crockett. In his own story Davy makes little use of the names of his relatives, and although some of them are known, they are not material to this narrative.