PROPERTY FROM THE DAVY CROCKETT COLLECTION OF DAVID ZUCKER
Crockett, who had been spoken of as a possible anti-Jackson presidential candidate, found himself at loose ends when he lost his congressional seat in 1835 to a rival backed by Jackson. On 1 November 1835, Crockett set out to determine if Texas was a suitable spot to settle with his family, as he explains in this letter to his brother-in-law, George Patton.
"I have concluded to drop you a line the whole connection is well and I am on the eve of starting to the Texes—on to morrow morning my Self Abner Burgin and Lindsey K. Tinkle & our nephew William Patton from the lowar country this will make our company we will go through Arkinsaw and I want to explore the Texes well before I return[.]"
Crocket then turns to a somewhat sticky family situation. He and George Patton had been named the executors of the estate of Robert Patton, George's father. But some family members contested the will, and a lawsuit was filed. Crockett reports on the court activities and expresses his exasperation that George seems to be neglecting his duties. "I was Greatly in hopes that you would have come out to Court this week so that you could have—Answered the Bill and seen your friends from the lowar Country Both William Patton and his brother in law Mr George W Harper Came to my house on Monday of Court and both went up and answered the Bill——and if you had come or sent on your answer the Answers would all have been completed They will take yours as Confessed[.]
Before returning to legal matters, Crockett describes the outfitting of the expedition: "I am not the least uneasy about their gaining it Mr Burgin let William have a horse at one hundred dollars and I have paid Mr Harper one hundred & 25 dollars—and I paid William a gun & saddle and some other things to the amount of Two hundred dollars—that I have paid them in all we have paid them three hundred They brought Sufficient proof to Idintify them Selves ——Mr George W Harper is a first rate Black smith and a Cleverer fellow you will be well pleased with him if you ever see him William will go with me and never return to that old woman again he is a fine fellow I am well pleased with them both … George and Campbell has got a powar of attorney for that money ready to Send to you by Thos Foster George is in debt and wants his badly you will do him a good turn to sent it to him as soon as possible[.]"
The little company travelled down the Mississippi River to the Arkansas and then up that river to Little Rock. They crossed the Red River into Texas, stopping, in turn, at Clarksville, Nacogdoches, San Augustine, and San Antonio, where they went their separate ways, with Burgin and Tinkle returning to Tennessee. Crockett had no expectation of fighting for Texas independence, but he found himself politically aligned with William B. Travis and then found himself at the Alamo, where he was killed on 6 March 1836.
The familiar legend is that when the travelling party reached Memphis after their first day on the road, they had a farewell drink with friends at the Union Hotel, where Crockett (alluding to the fact that his congressional opponent had a wooden leg) made the celebrated declaration, "Since you have chosen to elect a man with a timber toe to succeed me, you may all go to hell and I will go to Texas." Crockett did go to Texas, but at the Alamo he found hell.
Please note; While Crockett wrote at least one other letter subsequent to the present example, no originals survive. The copy of his 9 January 1836 letter to his son and daughter that turned up to great fanfare in 2007 has been determined to be a near-contemporary clerical copy.
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