Saturday, August 20, 2016

Tennessee: Visiting Davy Crockett's birthplace

Anyone who grew up in the 1950's can sing you the Davy Crockett song and certainly the part about being born on a mountain top in Tennessee is just one of the many misconceptions about this American hero. His birthplace was a log cabin on the banks of the Nolichucky River in Limestone, Tenn. His father John was attempting to farm this land and it cannot even remotely be called a mountaintop. On a really clear day if you look really hard you might see a mountain in the distance.

David Crockett was the 5th child of John Crockett and Rebecca Hawkins Crockett. He lived in Limestone until he was six years old so if he did indeed "kill him a bar when he was only three" this is where he would have been. His father was a tenant farmer of a man named Gillespie who was the major landowner in the area. After attempting farming John Crockett moved on and decided that farming wasn't for him. He opened a tavern that he ran with his wife and children.

The Tennessee State Parks maintains the birthplace site and has since 1973. The original cabin that the Crocketts lived in is long gone but one has been recreated in the approximate location and of the approximate style of the one that would have been here.

The site is located off Route 11E, don't give up it is quite a long way off of the main road through winding back roads. Make your first stop at the visitor center. Watch the fifteen-minute video which will acquaint you with the real David and the Davy of legend and also the creation of Walt Disney and others. It is at times hard to separate fact from fiction. By the time of his death, he was such a hero in his own time that he was even confused about what was true and what was not. One thing we know for sure, he died at the Alamo along with the other Texans and he was immortalized for it.

After you watch the video take the time to tour the small museum. It has some very interesting pictures of Davy and though they are all a little different, you get a very good idea of what the real man looked like. After seeing the video and reading the articles you also know that he was considered to be a very fine man with a good sense of humor, he was warm and gentle and not a great marksman. He was, however, a great bear killer and in one winter killed one hundred and five.

A whole case of 1950's memorabilia brings to the life the days of Crockettmania. If this is your idea of Davy you will be very disappointed to find out that he never wore a coonskin cap and was much more like the character played by John Wayne than the one played by Fess Parker. A little rough around the edges with a big heart.

Rangers are on site who are more than happy to tell you more about the family and their time in this area. The most impressive thing is a doorstep that is supposed to be the original one from the Crockett cabin. A sense of history is alive here and anyone who grew up during the era of Crockettmania will find this a fascinating place to visit.

No entrance fee is charged to visit Davy Crockett Birthplace and other than a few items for sale in the visitor center there is no store per say.

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