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Texas | Columns | "Texas Tales"

Davy's Widow
Elizabeth Patton Crockett

by Mike Cox

Acton State Historic Site
the Smallest State Park in Texas

Mike Cox
The woman from Tennessee left no letters or diary to provide future generations with any insight into her thinking, but it’s not hard to imagine her feelings when she opened the envelope from Austin.

The communication came from Comptroller James B. Shaw. The state’s chief financial official begged leave to inform her that under the provisions of “An Act to provide for ascertaining the Debt of the late Republic of Texas,” approved by the Legislature on Feb. 7, 1853, her claim for the services rendered by her late husband had been audited and authenticated. Enclosed she would find a warrant on the State of Texas in payment of that service “in par funds, as having been at that rate so available to the Government.”

That wording must have been about as easy for the 65-year-old widow to understand as it is today, but Texas had finally reimbursed her family for its loss. The widow’s name was Elizabeth Patton Crockett. Her husband went by David. And he died hard.

It happened on the morning of March 6, 1836. Historians continue to debate whether the former U.S. Congressman from Tennessee went down in the heat of battle swinging his trusty rifle “Old Betsy” or faced summary execution after surrendering to the Mexicans who had besieged the old mission for 13 days.

Eight weeks before, writing his children from San Augustine on Jan. 9, 1836, Crockett had proclaimed Texas “the garden spot of the world.” He said he intended to settle in the northern part of Texas and “am in hopes of making a fortune for myself and family bad as has been my prospects.”

Indeed, the celebrated frontiersman had never had much luck with money. Nor had he fared a whole lot better in politics, having famously told his former constituents, “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.”

Official proof of the return Crockett’s estate realized on his ultimate investment can be found in the State Archives, where Second Class, “B.” certificate No. 6127 remains on file. After Comptroller Shaw signed the document on Dec. 2, 1854, his office sent Mrs. Crockett a check from the grateful State of Texas for $24.

Though Crockett’s paycheck came 17 years late, on Dec. 23, 1837 the Republic of Texas had issued Bounty Warrant No. 1295 to his heirs. That certificate entitled Mrs. Crockett to 1,280 acres in North Texas in return for her late husband’s government service, but the Comanches who roamed the area saw the land as theirs.

Finally, eight years after Texas became a state, Mrs. Crockett left Tennessee in 1853 with her two children – a grown, married son named Robert Patton Crockett and a daughter, Matilda, to claim her land. The Crocketts stayed in Waxahachie until a surveyor could determine the boundaries of her land, a job he undertook in exchange for half the property. What Elizabeth ended up with was 640 acres on Rucker’s Creek, about six miles from present Granbury.
Elizabeth Crockett Home Site Texas Centennial Marker, Granbury TX
Elizabeth Crockett Home Site Texas Centennial Marker text, Granbury TX
Site of the Home of Elizabeth Crockett
Centennial Marker
Photo courtesy Ruth Cade, 2008
See Texas Centennial
Living in a log cabin built by her son, Elizabeth spent the last six years of her life in the place her husband had come to make his fortune. On the morning of Jan. 31, 1860, wearing the widow’s black she had worn since first learning of her husband’s death, Elizabeth left her cabin to take a walk and shortly fell dead at the age of 72.

Elizabeth was buried at the small community of Acton. Four years later her daughter died and was buried near her.

In 1911, Senators O. S. Lattimore and Pierce Ward introduced legislation appropriating $2,000 for “the erection of a monument over the remains of Mrs. Elizabeth Crockett.”
Elizabeth Crockett Monument Acton Texas Cemetery , Granbury, Texas
The monument
Photo courtesy Sam Fenstermacher, June 2005
Explaining the bill to his senate colleagues, Sen. Ward said he first learned of the Crockett family’s Hood County connection while a student at Granbury Methodist College in the fall of 1880. By that time, of course, the only direct survivor was Robert Crockett.

“Naturally I felt like making his acquaintance and I found him residing near the banks of the Brazos River, manager and keeper of the toll bridge that spans the river,” the senator said. “I would often visit him.”

Ward recalled that Crockett took “great pleasure” entertaining “college boys” and would “relate many incidents of his father’s career as he had learned them when a boy.”

If Ward ever wrote down any of the stories he heard from Robert Crockett, who died in 1889, they are not known today. But the senator’s bill made it through the Legislature, and the monument was unveiled in May 1913 by the widow Crockett’s namesake, her great-granddaughter.
Acton State Historic Site  Elizabeth Crockett Monument , Granbury, Texas
Note the "Acton State Historic Site" sign by the burial plot
Photo courtesy Sam Fenstermacher, June 2005
Since 1949, the 12 by 21-foot burial plot at Acton has been a state park – Texas’ smallest.

The 28-foot marble monument features a statue of a bonneted pioneer woman standing on a pedestal, her hand forever shading her eyes as she looks to the west, eternally wondering when her husband will come home.

© Mike Cox
"Texas Tales" - March 8, 2005 column


Subject: Crockett Descendants

Elizabeth Gose Crockett (and we have photos) is my great, great grandmother... more
- Melissa (Lisa) Jemison Roberts, August 14, 2007

Acton State Historic Site Contact Information
c/o Cleburne State Park

5800 Park Rd 21
Cleburne TX 76031

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