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The legend of Davy Crockett and the Alamo

Born in Eastern Tennessee on August 17, 1786, he was one of eight children born to parents Rebecca and John Crockett. History remembers Davy Crockett as a bare handed bear killer who wore a hat made out of raccoon skin. His attire included a leather coat and pants, carrying a long barreled musket, but his life took a much different path.

After a childhood filled with work and frontier adventures, in 1806, at the age of 20, he married Mary (Polly) Finley. They had three children while living in Franklin, Tennessee. Nine years later (1815) Polly died. Crockett went on to remarry widower Elizabeth Patton who had two children of her own. Crocket and Elizabeth went on to have three children of their own, bringing the family size to eight.

Davy Crockett began military career in 1813, taking an active role in the War of 1812. He served as a scout, then Third Sergeant. In 1815, his service ended and he turned his interests toward politics.

In 1817 he began his political career as public commissioner of Lawrence County, Tennessee. Crockett went on to win a seat in the Tennessee General Assembly. Crockett warmed to the role of working with others. An avid storyteller, he enjoyed the leadership role of politics. In 1827 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He won again in 1829, losing in 1830, winning again in 1833, then losing in 1834. In office he often opposed the policies of then President Andrew Jackson, which led to his election defeats in Tennessee.

When he lost his last election in 1834, he was quoted as stating, “I told the people of my district that I would serve them faithfully as I had done. But if not, they might go to hell, and I will go to Texas!”

Davy Crockett possessed a soul always searching for adventure. Texas was a next new frontier for him to conquer. In a letter home in 1836 he noted, “I must say as to what I have seen of Texas, it is a garden sport of the world. The best land and the best prospects for health I ever saw, and I do believe it is a fortune to any man to come here.”

He also took the cause of those living in the new Mexican territory.

The Mexican government had wanted to develop the area, but knew they needed settlers to do it. They granted large tracts of land to men like Stephen Austin to be sold a $.16 an acre to farm. Settlers from all 50 states and across Europe came to take advantage of this opportunity. The Mexican government had originally run these territories as sovereign states, similar to the U.S., allowing local control and development of their territories.

General San Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana then took over the Mexican government, and his dictatorship put stricter controls on these areas. Santa Anna led an army of up to 6,000 troops to secure control of the Texas territory.

On February 23, 1836, General Santa Anna surrounded a mission in San Antonio called The Alamo. Davy Crockett and a band of Tennessee volunteers had joined Colonel Jim Bowie and Colonel William Travis to defend their territorial rights. On March 6, before daylight, Santa Anna’s army attacked the 189 men defending The Alamo. In 90 minutes the battle was over. Per Santa Anna’s promise, he left no prisoner alive, but did allow women and children to leave the Alamo alive.

And what of Davy Crockett? He and his men were stationed in front of the Alamo chapel where the women and children were being protected. Today, just to the left of the chapel entrance you will see a bronze plaque that marks the spot where Crockett took his last breath defending the cause he believed in. Remember the Alamo!

Dr. Steve Patchin is Superintendent of Hancock Public Schools. Programs he has contributed to creating include Mind Trekkers and CareerFEST, helping students explore their talents and associated careers in STEM. His research has focused on increasing development of self-efficacy in individual students.

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