| THEY OWN DAVY CROCKETT
and contributed it for use on this web site.
The Article was printed in the Crockett Times 50th Anniversary Edition on Wednesday, March 7, 1983.
by Bobby Sims
As our country stars aghast at thousands of coon-skinned mauraders bearing down with gunsights lowered and banshee yells of "Davy Crockett, Davy Crockett, Kind of the Wild Frontier" forming on their lips, the one sheltered section which has been faithful to the newest national idol for more than a hundred years sits by calmly waiting for the world to return to normal.
Little Crockett County, pieced together from four West Tennessee counties in 1845, appears to be taking the Davy Crockett boom in stride, without effort to capitalize on a commercial enterprise which will realize merchants about $100 million in the month of June, as guitars, pajamas, jigsaw puzzles, buckskin suits and power horns retail across the counter.
He'll still be their Davy when the rush is over.
Back in 1845, the rugged frontiersman was already well on his way to becoming a fictional hero. His death at a Texas fortress nine years earlier was retold and gained imaginative momentum as that state was admitted to the Union. Tennesseans living between the middle and south forks of the Forked Deer River were quick to take advantage of popular sentiment. In an effort to form a new county, with a county seat closer to their homes, citizens of fractions of Haywood, Gibson, Madison, and Dyer Counties asked to name a proposed new division Crockett County. The agitation continued and finally resulted in the passage, on December 20, 1845, of an act of the General Assembly to "establish the county of Crockett in honor of and to perpetuate the memory of David Croockett, one of Tennessee's distinguished sons."
The new county lasted only one year before and adverse judicial decision called it unconstitutional. Twenty-five years lagged by before Crockett County was again authorized by the state. In 1872 all opposition was at last overcome, and the infant county felt that it had "Killed a bar."
After countyhood was attained, Crockett Countains rested. They farmed and fished during the week and went to Church on Sunday. Never in a hurry, Crockett County just kept existing, snug and comfortable. Today, it is almost completely agricultural in economy and philosophical outlook, waxing warm in politics, as did the original Crockett at times, and stable in religion, with Baptist, Church of Christ, Methodist, Christian and Presbyterian predominating.
The County seat, located close to the center of the 284 square miless of fertile and rolling Crockett County, is appropriately named Alamo, in commemeration of the spot where the illustrious defender of the independence fell. It was renamed in 1871 from its full maiden name of Cageville - which had applied out of respect for an early merchant, Lycurgus Cage. Additional sections have adopted the magic names. Crockett Mills is a hamlet about six miles from Alamo, and Crockett High School of Maury City is some eight miles from the county seat. Other town names include Bells, Gadsden and Friendship.
Alamo itself is a modest 1,702 in population, with a typical court square arrangement--and no statue of David Crockett. In fact, the only reminders of the county's namesake are a pair of markers put up two years ago by the Tennessee Historical Society on the county boundary lines which state: "Established 1845, named in honor of David Crockett, Tennessee frontiersman. He represented Tennessee in Congress from 1827 to 1831 and from 1833 to 1835. Moving to Texas, he was killed in the Alamo Massacre in 1836."
That's all there is, just a couple of historical markers. But Theo J. Emison, former mayor of Alamo, speaks for many of his fellow citizens for when he says that he considers the whole of Crockett County as a memorial to the famous hunter and warrior. "We could make Alamo a David Crockett shrine," he agrees, "but Crockett himself would probably have preferred a living monument to a piece of marble."
Crockett County, he thinks, still typifies much of the way of life evident in West Tennessee when the first settlements were anchored in small clearings. "Oh, no," he hastens to say, "we don't still live in log cabins. Our town has excellent school plants, both Negro and White, a recently contructed modern sewage disposal system and soon it hopes to have natural gas facilities to encourage industrial development. Yet there is still that trait of individualism here that was here when the first pioneer, more bold than the others,would push forward into the forest, make a clearing, and build a home."
Colonel Crockett would probably have admired Emison's position. When Davy first moved to West Tennessee, settling in Weakly County on the Obion River, he was seven miles from the nearest neighbor. And that neighbor lived on the other side of the river! Although the famous Indian fighter never actually lived in the area now bearing his name, it is probable that his nunerous for bears (he once killed 47 in a month) let him though the Forked Deer River bottom section many times.
Crockett's individualism was almost un restrained. After being beaten for Congress by the combined political forces of President Andrew Jackson and Adam Huntsman, a one-legged Indian war veteran, Crockett was in a bitter mood. Seventeen West Tennessee counties made up the congressional district which Crockett represented in Washington. Sixteen of the counties voted in favor of Davy. The other one, Madison County, voted so strongly against him that Huntsman won the election. The people of the section now known as Crockett County stood by the tall Tennessean, backing him even in defeat. But Davy wasn't satisfied. He was furious. He resolved to go to Texas where there was more breathing space and a cause for which he would fight. To use the Colonel's own words of his final talk to West Tennesseans, as presented in his autobiography: "I concluded my speech by telling them that I was done with politics for the present, and that they might all go to hell, and I would go to Texas."
Despite this rash statement, it seems likely that Crockett held highest in his respect the people of Tennessee. The people he disliked were those who tried to force down his throat, "to make him do!"
The Alamo weekly newspaper, the Crockett Times, has as its motto the well known quotation fromCrockett: "Be sure you are right, then go ahead." Evidently the ex-congressman considered well his change of scenery before going to Texas. " I have a new row to hoe," he said, "and a long and rough one, but come what will I'll go ahead."
That is the attitude Crockett Countians are taking about the Davy Crockett craze of today. They will go ahead with the same row they have been hoeing since 1845, the row they are sure is right.
R.L. (Bob) Ronk, owner of Ronk's Variety Store, the only five and ten cent store in Alamo, comments that he isn't being swept off his feet by the rush for Crockett soueenirs. "Sure, we are selling all the billfolds, belts, and comic books we have with Crockett emblems on them, but we are not making Davy Crockett a commercial specialty, No, sir!"
probably, the group most excited by the Davy spurt to popularity is the Alamo first grade, which has leaned all of the "Ballad" verses by heart, and has heard a life story of the bear hunter read to them by their teacher, Miss Robbie Craig.
Dr. H.E. McDaniel, former Alamo Dentist, had incorporated Davy into his practice. "I used to ask the kids whether they wanted Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, or Gene Autry fillings for their teeth," he smiles. "Now I have added Davy Crockett to the list. And they say "Davy flavor" doesn't hurt nearly as bad as the others."
There is no family in Crockett County which claims to have descended from David Crockett. In fact, there is not a person residing in the county with the name Crockett. So, as far as these people are concerned, he belongs to them all; just as much to the youngest as to the oldest, to the poorest as well as the richest.
Yes, the Walt Disney-Fess Parker combination has through television and moving pictures sent the whole youth of America in a desperate hunt--not for bears, butfor coon-skin caps. Still the folks between the forks of the river are not swept too far by the tide. They have gotten out their histories and checked the newspaper stories about Davy. They had hoped, but would never admit it, that a movie star would visit their county. They have let every school child in the forty-eight states talk about their longtime hero. They have let coon-skin caps top scrubby heads, and statues appear at various places.
He'll still be their Davy when the rush is over.