By now, we all know he didn’t kill a bear at age 3. And we’re pretty sure he didn’t “wade the Mississippi,” “leap the Ohio,” “ride upon a streak of lightning,” or “slip without a scratch down a honey locust [tree].”
But there’s no question, David (as he liked to be called) Crockett was one of the most legendary, most celebrated icons in American history. We know he was an expert marksman, a bold statesman, and a brave soldier, right up until his last living moments at the Alamo.
And here are some other facts you may not have known:
Crockett was NOT born on a mountaintop.
He was actually born on the banks of the Nolichucky River, in what is now Limestone, Tennessee. You can visit the Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park in Greene County and see a replica of the very cabin where the folk hero was born.
Crockett was NOT born in Tennessee.
Actually, at the time of his birth, the upper-east corner of what is now Tennessee was called “Franklin,” and was the first state outside the original 13. The State of Franklin only lasted for 4 years, when it went back under the control of North Carolina, and was later ceded to become Tennessee.
Crockett’s Father fought in the Revolutionary War
John Crockett was one of the “Overmountain Men,” who hiked 200 miles into South Carolina for the Battle of Kings Mountain. Read more about it here.
Crockett developed his expert marksmanship out of necessity
At age 8, David Crockett told his father that he wanted to hunt with a rifle. But his father expressed objection to wasting ammunition on “a boy’s missed shots.” At that point, David promised to “make every shot count.” And as the history books will tell, he certainly did.
Crockett dropped out of school at age 13
On his first day of school, Crockett was embarrassed by a bully. Never one to let someone else get the upper hand, David “whupped the tar” out of the school bully, and began skipping class to avoid punishment by the teacher. However, the teacher soon wrote a letter to the boy’s parents, prompting David to run away from home altogether.
After staying gone for nearly 3 years, Crockett returned home, stopping for dinner at a tavern his father had opened, where he was recognized by his sister, Betsy. Soon, all was forgiven, and David worked for a year to help his father settle debts.
Crockett was most likely NOT executed at The Alamo
If you’ve seen John Lee Hancock’s The Alamo (2004), then you probably remember the scene where Crockett was executed by Santa Anna. Many stories from the Alamo depict David’s death in this manner. However, some historians argue that this story was concocted to portray Santa Anna in an evil and villainous light.
But a slave named Ben, who worked as a cook for one of Santa Anna’s officers, claimed that after the battle had ended, Crockett’s body was found in the barracks with “no less than sixteen Mexican corpses” surrounding it.
I don’t know about you, but that’s the way I’d rather remember Davy Crockett. He was a victim of hardship, the portrait of deprivation…and he died just as he lived: fighting.