Davy Crockett - Early Years

Early Years

In his autobiography, Crockett told that his early years were filled with adventure, hardship, and travel. When he was eight years old, he told his father he wanted to hunt with a rifle. Crockett promised to make every shot count, and began hunting with his older brothers. After being sent to school when he was thirteen, he dropped out to run away from home to avoid a beating at the hands of his father. Crockett said he had "whupped the tar" out of a school bully who had embarrassed him on his fourth day in school. Crockett decided not to return to school for the next few days, fearing the bully would return with some friends backing him up, as well as the teacher's punishments. The teacher eventually wrote to Crockett's father to ask why his son did not attend class. Crockett told his father the truth. Angry that family trade goods exchanged for his son's education had gone to waste, he refused to listen. Crockett ran away from home and spent three years roaming from town to town. He claimed he visited most of the towns and villages in Tennessee and learned his skills as an outdoors-man, hunter and trapper.

Near his sixteenth birthday, David Crockett returned home. Before Crockett had left, his father had opened a tavern on the road between Knoxville, Tennessee and Abingdon, Virginia. Crockett stopped in for a meal unannounced. The first to finally recognize him, his older sister, Betsy, cried, "Here is my lost brother! Look! He is home!" The family was delighted and he was welcomed back. His father was in debt, so he hired Davy out to Abraham Wilson to settle a debt of $36. Later, Crockett generously worked off a $40 debt to John Kennedy. In return, John Crockett told his son he was free to leave. Davy went to work again for Kennedy, this time working for himself.

Shortly afterwards, Crockett became engaged to Margaret Elder and, although the marriage never took place, the contract of marriage (dated October 21, 1805) has been preserved by the Dandridge, Tennessee, courthouse. It is well documented that Crockett's bride-to-be changed her mind and married someone else. Heartbroken at age 19, Crockett decided he was "only born for hardships, misery, and disappointment".

On August 16, 1806, one day before his 20th birthday, Crockett married Mary (Polly) Finley in Jefferson County, Tennessee. They had two sons: John Wesley Crockett was born July 10, 1807, followed by William Finley Crockett (born 1809). They also had a daughter, Margaret Finley (Polly) Crockett in 1812. As wild game ran scarce, the Crocketts then moved to Franklin County, Tennessee in 1813. He named the new settlement on Beans Creek "Kentuck." After his wife Polly's death, Crockett married a widow named Elizabeth Patton in 1815; they had three children: Robert, Rebecca and Matilda.

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