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 Texas : Features : Columns : Bob Bowman's East Texas

Davy In East Texas

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman
When Davy Crockett made his way from Tennessee to Texas in 1835 to join the Texas battle for independence from Mexico, he was enthralled by the beauty and promise of East Texas, a forested land much like his homeland.
Now, a new book has captured the details of Davy's journey to Texas and the Alamo, where, as every schoolchild knows, he died on March 6, 1836, with more than 180 other defenders.

Much of "Journey Into the Land of Trials" by Manley F. Corbia, Jr., deals with Davy's travels across East Texas and his stays in landmark communities like Clarksville, Nacogdoches, San Augustine and a fledging village that would eventually be named for him.

Davy entered Texas at a crossing on the Red River and made his way to Clarksville, the capital of Red River County, perhaps because he had friends there.

It was the understanding of residents in the Red River area that Crockett was in a hurry to reach San Antonio where he intended to join the Texas revolutionary army.

Pioneer Isabella Clark Gordon, who lived in the Red River area, remembered that Crockett "was dressed like a gentleman, and not as a backwoodsman," but he did wear a coonskin cap. Mrs. Gordon said Davy, "neither in dress, conversation or bearing could he have created the impression that he was ignorant or uncouth..."

At the home of William Becknell, a man he supposedly knew from Tennessee, Crockett stayed several days and traveled west to hunt game with his friends.

While Crockett said nothing in his only letter from Texas about having hunted buffalo, he did mention a buffalo pass, which was located near present-day Fannin County. He called the area "Bodark" for Bois d'Arc Creek near Bonham.

Leaving the Clarksville area, Crockett went through Lost Prairie, on the west banks of the Red River, where he traded watches with Dr. Isaac Jones. Davy received an additional thirty dollars in cash in the trade since it was agreed that his watch was of a greater value.

From the Red River country, Crockett and his party traveled south to Nacogdoches and San Augustine, where on January 9, 1936, he wrote a letter to his daughter Margaret: "I am hopes of making a fortune yet for myself and family..."

While in San Augustine, Crockett learned of the call for volunteers in the revolutionary army. In a speech he said "we'll go to Mexico and shake Santa Anna as a coon dog would a possum." He took an oath of allegiance to Texas and, with other volunteers, started west to San Antonio in mid-January.

Davy and his companions traveled down El Camino Real, or the King's Highway. Finding a pleasant spring about 65 miles west of Nacogdoches he camped and soon discovered that an old family friend, Elijah Gossett, was living nearby. Gossett would later be influential by naming a new community for Crockett. The spring still exists in downtown Crockett.

From present-day Houston County, Crockett continued to make his way west, crossing Mustang Prairie, wading across the Trinity and Brazos rivers, visiting the town of Washington, passing through the Lost Pines and Bastrop, and finally arriving in San Antonio in early February.

In a letter on February 11, Major Green B. Jameson, the Alamo's engineer, wrote: "We are now one hundred and fifty strong....Colonel Crockett and Colonel Travis (are) both here."

Less than a month later, Davy lost his life when Santa Anna's troops overwhelmed the Alamo defenders. Just how Davy died is still being debated, but chances are good that the dust of East Texas was still on his shoes.


Bob Bowman's East Texas
August 30, 2009 Column
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers
Copyright Bob Bowman

(Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of more than 40 books about East Texas. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com)

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Alamo Battle | Texas History |
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Bob Bowman's "All Things Historical"

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