Davy Crockett had a strong compulsion to find a mate when he was in his late teens.
When he finally had enough courage to speak to anyone in a dress however, his heart would “begin to flutter like a duck in a puddle, get up in his throat and choke him like a cold potato.”
After losing two loves and overcoming the resultant blues, Davy found himself hunting one day near the home of a Dutch widow who had a daughter. Young Crockett said she was “as ugly as a stone fence.” (Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say, and some folks find stone fences very attractive.)
Davy decided to stop for a visit.
“She was so homely that it almost gave me a pain in the eyes to look at her,” Crockett penned later, undoubtedly in jest. “But she asked that I return for the fall reaping and meet the prettiest girl I had ever seen. That enticed me such that I said I would attend the harvest.”
Soon after arriving at the harvest celebration that fall, Davy met Jean Finley, the mother of the girl he had come to meet.
Her momma was in no way bashful,” Crockett would later write. “She praised my red cheeks and said she had a sweetheart for me. In the evening I was introduced to her daughter Mary and I was pleased with her from the word go.”
Davy danced, chatted and sat with the young girl and found himself totally infatuated with her. When he returned to the Quaker’s home, fifteen miles away, where he lived and worked, Davy entered into a contract to work for a horse. He would ride it when calling on the young lady.
After several weeks he decided to call on Mary Finley again. Although he found her with a young man, he soon determined that she was more interested in him. Her mother however had a change of heart and preferred her daughter’s other suitor.
Davy’s proposal of matrimony was accepted but since he was wary of another suitor winning her favors and hand as had happened before, Davy proceeded to make the necessary arrangements without undue delay. He traveled twelve miles with his friend Thomas Doggett to the Dandridge Courthouse on August 12, 1806, to get the proper license.
“All the necessary arrangements were made at my father’s house to receive my wife,” Davy wrote. “I took my eldest brother and his wife, another brother, and a single sister, and cut out to her father’s house to get her.”
Crockett found that his prospective mother-in-law was still unfriendly when he arrived for the wedding. Davy started to take his bride to get married elsewhere but William Finley, Mary’s father, persuaded them to stay.
He sent for his wife and they talked for some time by themselves,” Davy wrote. “Afterwards she came to me and looked at me mighty good, and asked my pardon for what she had said. She invited me to stay. I sent off then for my parson and we got married in a short time. I was afraid to wait long, for fear of another defeat.”
After Davy and Mary were married he found there was more in life to be concerned about.
“I thought I needed nothing more in the whole world,” Davy recalled. “But I soon found this was all a mistake – for now having a wife, I wanted everything else. Worse than that, I had nothing to pay for it.”
Davy’s mother-in-law gave them two cows and calves. He rented a small farm and cabin and went to work.
“We worked for some years, renting ground and paying high rent,” he wrote. “I found that it wasn’t the thing it was cracked up to be; and that I couldn’t make a fortune at it. In this time we had two sons and I found that I was better at increasing my family than my fortune.
“It was necessary that I hunt a better place for us to live. I knew I would have to move at some time so I thought it was better to move before my family got too large, that I might have less to carry.”
Davy Crockett loaded his family and their possessions on an old horse, two two-year old colts and on the back of his father-in-law’s horse and moved to the Elk River country of Lincoln County in south central Tennessee. Here he began to build his reputation as a hunter, Indian fighter and politician. Crockett was successful in winning several elections but after losing a race for Congress in 1835 he was quoted as saying, “you can go to Hell, as for me, I‘m going to Texas.”
It is unknown why he showed up at the Alamo in February of 1836. Perhaps it was a matter of being at the wrong place at the wrong time when Mexican General Santa Anna and his army, numbered as several thousand, laid siege on the Alamo. There were only two hundred or so defenders within the compound but they withstood the onslaught for 13 days before falling on February 23,1836. Davy Crockett was a casualty.
A play about Davy Crockett’s life titled “The Lion of the West” opened in New York City five years later. It gave a somewhat exaggerated picture of Davy but the attention it received led to his ascension as a legendary, larger than life, folk hero of America.
“His frontier lingo and tall stories attracted the attention of journalists with books about Davy Crockett, the ‘ring-tailed roarer’ from Tennessee,” Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, editors of The Reader’s Companion to American history wrote, calling Crockett, “a half-horse, half-alligator hero who could whip his weight in wildcats.”
To me that sounds like something for the silver screen and television.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons