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Crockett, David and Elizabeth (Patton)

submitted by Bruce Whitaker
Elizabeth Patton was born in Swannanoa, Buncombe County, NC, on May 22, 1788, one of the younger children of Robert and Rebecca (..) Patton. She married her first cousin, James Patton, son of her father’s brother Elijah. Elizabeth and James Patton moved to West Tennessee, probably Gibson County and were living there when James became involved in fighting in the Creek Indian War during which he served under General Andrew Jackson. He was wounded at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814, and as he lay dying he asked his friend and fellow Indian fighter, David Crockett, to take his personal effects back to his wife. David honored his friend’s dying request and in the process of returning the personal belongings, met Elizabeth Patton. A short time later, David’s own wife Polly (Finley) Crockett died. He then thought of the pretty widow Patton, and upon inquire, he found that she had moved back to her father’s home in Swannanoa in Buncombe County, NC. He followed her there. Robert Patton’s home was located on the exact site of the present Laura Shuford’s house which is near the new Swannanoa Elementary School. Although Elizabeth Patton was pleased by David Crockett’s attention, she was not “bowled over,” and it took Crockett a considerable length of time to persuade Elizabeth to marry him. Some say they were married here in Swannanoa. Others say they went back to Tennessee to be married, but either way, they were living in West Tennessee shortly after their marriage in 1815.

Elizabeth did not find David Crockett to be a steady husband/farmer who stayed at home to till the land and care for his family and stock. Instead, it was mostly left to Elizabeth to run the home and garden and raise their three children as best she could while David made a precarious living as a hunter, and taking frequent long trips as a guide and trailblazer, helping other people travel or locate places to settle.

In the course of this activity David Crockett was a frequent visitor to Buncombe County. David and his companions frequently travelled the road from Asheville to Old Fort by way of Black Mountain. As a result of some local “political shenanigans” a toll charge was put on this road. Crockett and others were furious, and decided to find another way to get from Asheville to Old Fort. Crockett went up the old Asheville-Charlotte Road (now U.S. 74) to Fairview. There, about a mile and a half past Mine Hole Gap, they started clearing a bridle trail east to Old Fort. This is the present “Old Fort Road” in Faiview, and for a time after Crockett cleared it, the road was known as “David Crockett’s Bridle Trail.” This was in 1816. Sarah Whitaker Jenkins who lived from 1801 to 1896, recalled the event. She said that when she was about 15 years old, Crockett and his friends stopped at her father’s house, her father being William Whitaker Sr. (1772-1806). They asked for water first, and then for something to eat. Fifteen-year old “Sallie” helped her mother Mary Canady Whitaker (1772-1848) prepare supper for the men. Crockett spent the night with the Whitaker family.

The McBrayer family tell a story about their ancestor’s encounter with David Crockett during one of his trips through here. They believe it was Samuel McBrayer (1771-1846) who was out hunting one day near his home on the present Old Fort Road in Fairview. He saw a wild turkey, raised his gun and fired, but just as he fired, he heard another shot. David Crockett had also spotted the same turkey at the same time. Since the men could not determine whose shot had brought the bird down, they decided to split it.

The Cooper family also have a memory of a social encounter with David Crockett. Elizabeth Cooper Hill was born in Fairview on October 24, 1811, the
daughter of Revolutionary Soldier Adam Cooper (1760-1830) and his wife Elizabeth Forgay. Elizabeth, who married Felix Walker Hill (1806-1883) recorded in their Bible that “at age 15” she (Elizabeth) played the fiddle while David Crockett danced at the Cooper home. This was in Fairview in 1826.
Later that same year David Crockett was elected to Congress from West Tennessee.

At Robert Patton’s home there was an oak tree called “The Target Tree.” Here Patton and son-in-law Crockett would set up targets for shooting matches. The tree stood until the 1950’s when it was struck by lightning.

In 1831 Elizabeth Patton Crockett herself returned to Swannanoa for a visit. When she was ready to go back, her father Robert Patton decided to go with her, and died there a year later in 1832. David Crockett became the administrator of his estate.

In 1834 Crockett was defeated for reelection in Congress, and soon after that he and his nephew William Patton went to Texas to explore the are and decide upon a suitable place for relocating their families. While there, the men became involved with the Texan war with Mexico and were killed on March 6, 1836 in the Battle of the Alamo. Some time later Elizabeth and their three children, John W., William and Margaret, carried out the moved to Texas on their own, and Elizabeth died on January 31, 1860, in Acton, Texas, in Johnson County, now known as Hood County.

Sources: Thomas, Lillian Bird: “Patton History,” 1961, Shuford, Laura, Series of newspaper articles by C.R. Sumner in the Asheville; Citizen-Times, written in the 1950’s; “Interest Stirred in Crockett’s Roots;” “Story of Crockett’s Bridle Trail;” “Know Your Community;” “World Book Encyclopedia; personal recollections of Maggie jenkins Whitaker (1893-1983); Mrs. Robert B. Allison, and Edna Jenkins Wright
(1894- ).
–Heritage II, article #152, p. 147

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