David Crockett - The Camp and the Cabin
The army, far away in the wilds of Southern Alabama, on the banks of
the almost unknown Chattahoochee, without provisions, and with leagues of
unexplored wilderness around, found itself in truly a deplorable
condition. The soldiers had hoped to find, in the Indian village, stores
of beans and corn, and quantities of preserved game. In the impotence of
their disappointment they applied the torch, and laid the little village
A council was held, and it was deemed best to divide their forces. Major
Childs took one-half of the army and retraced their steps westward,
directing their course toward Baton Rouge, where they hoped to find
General Jackson with a portion of the army with which he was returning
from New Orleans. The other division, under Major Russel, pressed forward,
as rapidly as possible, nearly north, aiming for Fort Decatur, on the
Tallapoosa River, where they expected to find shelter and provisions.
Crockett accompanied Major Russel's party. Indian sagacity was now in
great requisition. The friendly savages led the way through scenes of
difficulty and entanglement where, but for their aid, the troops might all
have perished. So great was the destitution of food that the soldiers were
permitted to stray, almost at pleasure, on either side of the line of
march. Happy was the man who could shoot a raccoon or a squirrel, or even
the smallest bird. Implicit confidence was placed in the guidance of the
friendly Indians, and the army followed in single file, along the narrow
trail which the Indians trod before them.
Crockett, in this march, had acquired so much the confidence of the
officers that he seems to have enjoyed quite unlimited license. He went
where he pleased and did what he would. Almost invariably at night,
keeping pace with the army, he would bring in some small game, a bird or a
squirrel, and frequently several of these puny animals. It was a rule,
when night came, for all the hunters to throw down what they had killed in
one pile. This was then divided among the messes as equitably as possible.
One night, Crockett returned empty-handed. He had killed nothing, and he
was very hungry. But there was a sick man in his mess, who was suffering
far more than he. Crockett, with his invariable unselfishness and
generosity, forgot his own hunger in his solicitude for his sick comrade.
He went to the fire of Captain Cowen, who was commandant of the company to
which Crockett belonged, and told him his story. Captain Cowen was
broiling, for his supper, the gizzard of a turkey. He told Crockett that
the turkey was all that had fallen to the share of his company that night,
and that the bird had already been divided, in very small fragments, among
the sick. There was nothing left for Crockett's friend.
On this march the army was divided into messes of eight or ten men, who
cooked and ate their food together. This led Crockett to decide that he
and his mess would separate themselves from the rest of the army, and make
a small and independent band. The Indian scouts, well armed and very wary,
took the lead. They kept several miles in advance of the main body of the
troops, that they might give timely warning should they encounter any
danger. Crockett and his mess kept close after them, following their
trail, and leaving the army one or two miles behind.
One day the scouts came across nine Indians. We are not informed whether
they were friends or enemies, whether they were hunters or warriors,
whether they were men, women, or children, whether they were in their
wigwams or wandering through the forest, whether they were all together or
were found separately: we are simply told that they were all shot down.
The circumstances of the case are such, that the probabilities are very
strong that they were shot as a wolf or a bear would be shot, at sight,
without asking any questions. The next day the scouts found a frail
encampment where there were three Indians. They shot them all.
The sufferings of the army, as it toiled along through these vast realms
of unknown rivers and forest glooms, and marshes and wide-spread,
flower-bespangled prairies, became more and more severe. Game was very
scarce. For three days, Crockett's party killed barely enough to sustain
life. He writes:
"At last we all began to get nearly ready to give up the ghost, and lie
down and die, for we had no prospect of provision, and we knowed we
couldn't go much farther without it."
While in this condition they came upon one of those wide and beautiful
prairies which frequently embellish the landscape of the South and the
West This plain was about six miles in width, smooth as a floor, and
waving with tall grass and the most brilliaintly colored flowers. It was
bordered with a forest of luxuriant growth, but not a tree dotted its
surface. They came upon a trail leading through the tall, thick grass.
Crockett's practised eye saw at once that it was not a trail made by human
foot-steps, but the narrow path along which deer strolled and turkeys
hobbled in their movement across the field from forest to forest.
Following this trail, they soon came to a creek of sluggish water. The
lowlands on each side were waving with a rank growth of wild rye,
presenting a very green and beautiful aspect. The men were all mounted, as
indeed was nearly the whole army. By grazing and browsing, the horses, as
they moved slowly along at a foot-pace, kept in comfortable flesh. This
rye-field presented the most admirable pasturage for the horses. Crockett
and his comrades dismounted, and turned the animals loose. There was no
danger of their straying far in so fat a field.
Crockett and another man, Vanzant by name, leaving the horses to feed,
pushed across the plain to the forest, in search of some food for
themselves They wandered for some time, and found nothing. At length,
Crockett espied a squirrel on the limb of a tall tree. He shot at the
animal and wounded it but it succeeded in creeping into a small hole in
the tree, thirty feet from the ground. There was not a limb for that
distance to aid in climbing. Still the wants of the party were such that
Crockett climbed the tree to get the squirrel, and felt that he had gained
quite a treasure.
"I shouldn't relate such small matters," he writes, "only to show what
lengths a hungry man will go to, to get something to eat."
Soon after, he killed two more squirrels. Just as he was reloading his
gun, a large flock of fat turkeys rose from the marshy banks of the creek
along which they were wandering, and flying but a short distance,
relighted. Vanzant crept forward, and aiming at a large gobbler, fired,
and brought him down. The flock immediately flew back to near the spot
where Crockett stood. He levelled his rifle, took deliberate aim, and
another fine turkey fell. The flock then disappeared.
The two hunters made the forest resound with shouts of triumph. They had
two large, fat turkeys, which would be looked at wistfully upon any
gourmand's table, and for side-dishes they had three squirrels. Thus they
were prepared for truly a thanksgiving feast. Hastily they returned with
their treasure, when they learned that the others of their party had found
a bee-tree, that is, a tree where a swarm of bees had taken lodgment, and
were laying in their winter stores. They cut down the tree with their
hatchets, and obtained an ample supply of wild honey. They all felt that
they had indeed fallen upon a vein of good luck.
It was but a short distance from the creek to the gigantic forest, rising
sublimely in its luxuriance, with scarcely an encumbering shrub of
undergrowth. They entered the edge of the forest, built a hot fire,
roasted their game, and, while their horses were enjoying the richest of
pasturage, they, with their keen appetites, enjoyed a more delicious feast
than far-famed Delmonico ever provided for his epicurean guests.
The happy party, rejoicing in the present, and taking no thought for the
morrow, spent the night in this camp of feasting. The next morning they
were reluctant to leave such an inviting hunting-ground. Crockett and
Vanzant again took to their rifles, and strolled into the forest in search
of game. Soon they came across a fine buck, which seemed to have tarried
behind to watch the foe, while the rest of the herd, of which he was
protector, had taken to flight. The beautiful creature, with erect head
and spreading antlers, gallantly stopping to investigate the danger to
which his family was exposed, would have moved the sympathies of any one
but a professed hunter. Crockett's bullet struck him, wounded him
severely, and he limped away. Hotly the two hunters pursued. They came to
a large tree which had been blown down, and was partly decayed. An immense
grizzly bear crept growling from the hollow of this tree, and plunged into
the forest. It was in vain to pursue him, without dogs to retard his
flight. They however soon overtook the wounded buck, and shot him. With
this treasure of venison upon their shoulders, they had but just returned
to their camp when the main body of the army came up. The game which
Crockett had taken, and upon which they had feasted so abundantly, if
divided among twelve hundred men, would not have afforded a mouthful
The army was in the most deplorable condition of weakness and hunger. Ere
long they reached the Coosa, and followed up its eastern bank. About
twenty miles above the spot where they struck the river there was a small
military post, called Fort Decatur. They hoped to find some food there.
And yet, in that remote, almost inaccessible station, they could hardly
expect to meet with anything like a supply for twelve hundred
Upon reaching the river, Crockett took a canoe and paddled across. On the
other shore he found an Indian. Instead of shooting him, he much more
sensibly entered into relations of friendly trade with the savage. The
Indian had a little household in his solitary wigwam, and a small quantity
of corn in store. Crockett wore a large hat. Taking it from his head, he
offered the Indian a silver dollar if he would fill it with corn. But the
little bit of silver, with enigmatical characters stamped upon it, was
worth nothing to the Indian. He declined the offer. Speaking a little
broken English, he inquired, "You got any powder? You got any bullets?"
Crockett told him he had. He promptly replied, "Me will swap my corn for
powder and bullets."
Eagerly the man gave a hatful of corn for ten bullets and ten charges of
powder. He then offered another hatful at the same price. Crockett took
off his hunting-shirt, tied it up so as to make a sort of bag, into which
he poured his two hatfuls of corn. With this great treasure he joyfully
paddled across the stream to rejoin his companions. It is pleasant to
think that the poor Indian was not shot, that his wigwam was not burned
over his head, and that he was left with means to provide his wife and
children with many luxurious meals.
The army reached Fort Decatur. One single meal consumed all the provisions
which the garrison could by any possibility spare. They had now entered
upon a rough, hilly, broken country. The horses found but little food, and
began to give out. About fifty miles farther up the Coosa River there was
another military station, in the lonely wilds, called Fort William. Still
starving, and with tottering horses, they toiled on. Parched corn, and but
a scanty supply of that, was now almost their only subsistence.
They reached the fort. One ration of pork and one ration of flour were
mercifully given them. It was all which could be spared. To remain where
they were was certain starvation. Forty miles above them on the same
stream was Fort Strother. Sadly they toiled along. The skeleton horses
dropped beneath their riders, and were left, saddled and bridled, for the
vultures and the wolves. On their route to Fort Strother they passed
directly by the ancient Indian fort of Talladega. It will be remembered
that a terrible battle had been fought here by General Jackson with the
Indians, on the 7th of December, 1813. In the carnage of that bloody day
nearly five hundred Indians fell. Those who escaped scattered far and
wide. A few of them sought refuge in distant Florida.
The bodies of the slain were left unburied. Slowly the flesh disappeared
from the bones, either devoured by wild beasts or decomposed by the action
of the atmosphere. The field, as now visited, presented an appalling
aspect. Crockett writes:
||"We went through the old
battle-ground, and it looked like a great gourd-patch. The skulls of
the Indians who were killed, still lay scattered all about. Many of
their frames were still perfect, as their bones had not separated."
As they were thus despairingly tottering along, they came across a
narrow Indian trail, with fresh footmarks, indicating that
moccasined Indians had recently passed along. It shows how little
they had cause to fear from the Indians, that Crockett, entirely
alone, should have followed that trail, trusting that it would lead
him to some Indian village, where he could hope to buy some more
corn. He was not deceived in his expectation. After threading the
narrow and winding path about five miles, he came to a cluster of
Indian wigwams. Boldly he entered the little village, without
apparently the slightest apprehension that he should meet with any
He was entirely at the mercy of the savages Even if he were murdered,
it would never be known by whom. And if it were known, the starving army,
miles away, pressing along in its flight, was in no condition to send a
detachment to endeavor to avenge the deed. The savages received him as
though he had been one of their own kith and kin, and readily exchanged
corn with him, for powder and bullets. He then returned, but did not
overtake the rest of the army until late in the night.
The next morning they were so fortunate as to encounter a detachment of
United States troops on the march to Mobile. These troops, having just
commenced their journey, were well supplied; and they liberally
distributed their corn and provisions. Here Crockett found his youngest
brother, who had enlisted for the campaign. There were also in the band
many others of his old friends and neighbors. The succeeding day, the
weary troops, much refreshed, reached a point on the River Coosa opposite
Fort Strother, and crossing the stream, found there shelter and plenty of
We know not, and do not care to know, who was responsible for this
military movement, which seems to us now as senseless as it was cruel and
disastrous. But it is thus that poor humanity has ever gone blundering on,
displaying but little wisdom in its affairs. Here Crockett had permission
to visit his home, though he still owed the country a month of service. In
his exceeding rude, unpolished style which pictures the man, he writes:
"Once more I was safely landed at home with my wife and children. I found
them all well and doing well; and though I was only a rough sort of
backwoodsman, they seemed mighty glad to see me, however little the
quality folks might suppose it. For I do reckon we love as hard in the
backwood country as any people in the whole creation.
"But I had been home only a few days, when we received orders to start
again, and go on to the Black Warrior and Cahaula rivers, to see if there
were no Indians there. I know'd well enough there was none, and I wasn't
willing to trust my craw any more where there was neither any fighting to
do, nor anything to go on. So I agreed to give a young man, who wanted to
go, the balance of my wages, if he would serve out my time, which was
about a month.
"He did so. And when they returned, sure enough they hadn't seen an Indian
any more than if they had been, all the time, chopping wood in my
clearing. This closed my career as a warrior; and I am glad of it; for I
like life now a heap better than I did then. And I am glad all over that I
lived to see these times, which I should not have done if I had kept
fooling along in war, and got used up at it. When I say I am glad, I just
mean that I am glad that I am alive, for there is a confounded heap of
things I ain't glad of at all."
When Crockett wrote the above he was a member of Congress, and a very
earnest politician. He was much opposed to the measure of President
Jackson in removing the deposits from the United States Bank--a movement
which greatly agitated the whole country at that time. In speaking of
things of which he was not glad, he writes:
"I ain't glad, for example, that the Government moved the deposits; and if
my military glory should take such a turn as to make me President after
the General's time, I will move them back. Yes, I the Government, will
take the responsibility, and move them back again. If I don't I wish I may
The hardships of war had blighted Crockett's enthusiasm for wild
adventures, and had very considerably sobered him. He remained at home for
two years, diligently at work upon his farm. The battle of New Orleans was
fought. The war with England closed, and peace was made with the poor
Indians, who, by British intrigue, had been goaded to the disastrous
fight. Death came to the cabin of Crockett; and his faithful wife, the
tender mother of his children, was taken from him. We cannot refrain from
quoting his own account of this event as it does much honor to his heart.
"In this time I met with the hardest trial which ever falls to the lot of
man. Death, that cruel leveller of all distinctions, to whom the prayers
and tears of husbands, and even of helpless infancy, are addressed in
vain, entered my humble cottage, and tore from my children an
affectionate, good mother, and from me a tender and loving wife. It is a
scene long gone by, and one which it would be supposed I had almost
forgotten. Yet when I turn my memory back upon it, it seems but as the
work of yesterday.
"It was the doing of the Almighty, whose ways are always right, though we
sometimes think they fall heavily on us. And as painful as even yet is the
remembrance of her sufferings, and the loss sustained by my little
children and myself, yet I have no wish to lift up the voice of complaint.
I was left with three children. The two eldest were sons, the youngest a
daughter, and at that time a mere infant. It appeared to me, at that
moment, that my situation was the worst in the world.
"I couldn't bear the thought of scattering my children; and so I got my
youngest brother, who was also married, and his family, to live with me.
They took as good care of my children as they well could; but yet it
wasn't all like the care of a mother. And though their company was to me,
in every respect, like that of a brother and sister, yet it fell far short
of being like that of a wife. So I came to the conclusion that it wouldn't
do, but that I must have another wife."
One sees strikingly, in the above quotation, the softening effect of
affliction on the human heart There was a widow in the neighborhood, a
very worthy woman, who had lost her husband in the war. She had two
children, a son and a daughter, both quite young. She owned a snug little
farm, and being a very capable woman, was getting along quite comfortably.
Crockett decided that he should make a good step-father to her children,
and she a good step-mother for his. The courtship was in accordance with
the most approved style of country love-making. It proved to be a
congenial marriage. The two families came very harmoniously together, and
in their lowly hut enjoyed peace and contentment such as frequently is not
found in more ambitious homes.
But the wandering propensity was inherent in the very nature of Crockett.
He soon tired of the monotony of a farmer's life, and longed for change. A
few months after his marriage he set out, with three of his neighbors, all
well mounted, on an exploring tour into Central Alabama, hoping to find
new homes there. Taking a southerly course, they crossed the Tennessee
River, and striking the upper waters of the Black Warrior, followed down
that stream a distance of about two hundred miles from their
starting-point, till they came near to the place where Tuscaloosa, the
capital of the State, now stands.
This region was then almost an unbroken wilderness. But during the war
Crockett had frequently traversed it, and was familiar with its general
character. On the route they came to the hut of a man who was a comrade of
Crockett in the Florida campaign. They spent a day with the retired
soldier, and all went out in the woods together to hunt. Frazier
unfortunately stepped upon a venomous snake, partially covered with
leaves. The reptile struck its deadly fangs into his leg. The effect was
instantaneous and awful. They carried the wounded man, with his bloated
and throbbing limb, back to the hut. Here such remedies were applied as
backwoods medical science suggested; but it was evident that many weeks
would elapse ere the man could move, even should he eventually recover.
Sadly they were constrained to leave their suffering companion there. What
became of him is not recorded.
The three others, Crockett, Robinson, and Rich, continued their journey.
Their route led them through a very fertile and beautiful region, called
Jones's Valley. Several emigrants had penetrated and reared their log huts
upon its rich and blooming meadows.
When they reached the spot where the capital of the State now stands, with
its spacious streets, its public edifices, its halls of learning, its
churches, and its refined and cultivated society, they found only the
silence, solitude, and gloom of the wilderness. With their hatchets they
constructed a rude camp to shelter them from the night air and the heavy
dew. It was open in front. Here they built their camp-fire, whose cheerful
glow illumined the forest far and wide, and which converted midnight
glooms into almost midday radiance. The horses were hobbled and turned out
to graze on a luxuriant meadow. It was supposed that the animals, weary of
the day's journey, and finding abundant pasturage, would not stray far.
The travellers cooked their supper, and throwing themselves upon their
couch of leaves, enjoyed that sound sleep which fatigue, health, and
When they awoke in the morning the horses were all gone. By examining the
trail it seemed that they had taken the back-track in search of their
homes. Crockett, who was the most vigorous and athletic of the three,
leaving Robinson and Rich in the camp, set out in pursuit of the runaways.
It was a rough and dreary path he had to tread. There was no comfortable
road to traverse, but a mere path through forest, bog, and ravine, which,
at times, it was difficult to discern. He had hills to climb, creeks to
ford, swamps to wade through. Hour after hour he pressed on, but the
horses could walk faster than he could. There was nothing in their
foot-prints which indicated that he was approaching any nearer to them.
At last, when night came, and Crockett judged that he had walked fifty
miles, he gave up the chase as hopeless. Fortunately he reached the cabin
of a settler, where he remained until morning. A rapid walk, almost a run,
of fifty miles in one day, is a very severe operation even for the most
hardy of men. When Crockett awoke, after his night's sleep, he found
himself so lame that he could scarcely move. He was, however, anxious to
get back with his discouraging report to his companions. He therefore set
out, and hobbled slowly and painfully along, hoping that exercise would
gradually loosen his stiffened joints.
But, mile after mile, he grew worse rather than better. His head began to
ache very severely. A burning fever spread through his veins. He tottered
in his walk, and his rifle seemed so heavy that he could scarcely bear its
weight. He was toiling through a dark and gloomy ravine, damp and cold,
and thrown into shade by the thick foliage of the overhanging trees. So
far as he knew, no human habitation was near. Night was approaching. He
could go no farther. He had no food; but he did not need any, for a
deathly nausea oppressed him. Utterly exhausted, he threw himself down
upon the grass and withered leaves, on a small dry mound formed by the
roots of a large tree.
Crockett had no wish to die. He clung very tenaciously to life, and yet he
was very apprehensive that then and there he was to linger through a few
hours of pain, and then die, leaving his unburied body to be devoured by
wild beasts, and his friends probably forever ignorant of his fate.
Consumed by fever, and agitated by these painful thoughts, he remained for
an hour or two, when he heard the sound of approaching footsteps and of
human voices. His sensibilities were so stupefied by his sickness that
these sounds excited but little emotion.
|Soon three or four Indians made their appearance
walking along the narrow trail in single file. They saw the
prostrate form of the poor, sick white man, and immediately
gathered around him. The rifle of Crockett, and the powder and
bullets which be had, were, to these Indians, articles of almost
inestimable value. One blow of the tomahawk would send the
helpless man to realms where rifles and ammunition were no longer
needed, and his priceless treasures would fall into their hands.
Indeed, it was not necessary even to strike that blow. They had
but to pick up the rifle, and unbuckle the belt which contained
the powder-horn and bullet-pouch, and leave the dying man to his
They then, by very expressive signs, told him that if he did not take
some nourishment he would die and be buried there--"a thing," Crockett
writes, "I was confoundedly afraid of, myself." Crockett inquired how
far it was to any house. They signified to him, by signs, that there was
a white man's cabin about a mile and a half from where they then were,
and urged him to let them conduct him to that house. He rose to make the
attempt. But he was so weak that he could with difficulty stand, and
unsupported could not walk a step.
One of these kind Indians offered to go with him; and relieving Crockett
of the burden of his rifle, and with his strong arm supporting and half
carrying him, at length succeeded in getting him to the log hut of the
pioneer. The shades of night were falling. The sick man was so far gone
that it seemed to him that he could scarcely move another step. A woman
came to the door of the lowly hut and received them with a woman's
sympathy. There was a cheerful fire blazing in one corner, giving quite
a pleasing aspect to the room. In another corner there was a rude bed,
with bed-clothing of the skins of animals. Crockett's benefactor laid
him tenderly upon the bed, and leaving him in the charge of his
countrywoman, bade him adieu, and hastened away to overtake his
What a different world would this be from what it has been, did the
spirit of kindness, manifested by this poor Indian, universally animate
"O brother man! fold to thy heart thy brother: Where pity dwells the
peace of God is there; To worship rightly is to love each other, Each
smile a hymn, each kindly word a prayer."
The woman's husband was, at the time, absent. But she carefully nursed
her patient, preparing for him some soothing herb-tea. Delirium came,
and for several hours, Crockett, in a state of unconsciousness, dwelt in
the land of troubled dreams. The next morning he was a little more
comfortable, but still in a high fever, and often delirious.
It so happened that two white men, on an exploring tour, as they passed
along the trail, met the Indians, who informed them that one of their
sick countrymen was at a settler's cabin at but a few miles' distance.
With humanity characteristic of a new and sparsely settled country they
turned aside to visit him. They proved to be old acquaintances of
Crockett. He was so very anxious to get back to the camp where he had
left his companions, and who, knowing nothing of his fate, must think it
very strange that he had thus deserted them, that they, very
reluctantly, in view of his dangerous condition, consented to help him
on his way.
They made as comfortable a seat as they could, of blankets and skins,
which they buckled on the neck of one of the horses just before the
saddle. Upon this Crockett was seated. One of the men then mounted the
saddle behind him, threw both arms around the patient, and thus they
commenced their journey. The sagacious horse was left to pick out his
own way along the narrow trail at a slow foot-pace. As the horse thus
bore a double burden, after journeying an hour or two, Crockett's seat
was changed to the other horse. Thus alternating, the painful journey of
nearly fifty miles was accomplished in about two days.
When they reached the camp, Crockett, as was to have been expected, was
in a far worse condition than when they commenced the journey. It was
evident that he was to pass through a long run of fever, and that his
recovery was very doubtful. His companions could not thus be delayed.
They had already left Frazier, one of their company, perhaps to die of
the bite of a venomous snake; and now they were constrained to leave
Crockett, perhaps to die of malarial fever.
They ascertained that, at the distance of a few miles from them, there
was another log cabin in the wilderness. They succeeded in purchasing a
couple of horses, and in transporting the sick man to this humble house
of refuge. Here Crockett was left to await the result of his sickness,
unaided by any medical skill. Fortunately he fell into the hands of a
family who treated him with the utmost kindness. For a fortnight he was
in delirium, and knew nothing of what was transpiring around him.
Crockett was a very amiable man. Even the delirium of disease developed
itself in kindly words and grateful feelings. He always won the love of
those around him. He did not miss delicacies and luxuries of which he
had never known anything. Coarse as he was when measured by the standard
of a higher civilization, he was not coarse at all in the estimation of
the society in the midst of which he moved. In this humble cabin of
Jesse Jones, with all its aspect of penury, Crockett was nursed with
brotherly and sisterly kindness, and had every alleviation in his
sickness which his nature craved.
The visitor to Versailles is shown the magnificent apartment, and the
regal couch, with its gorgeous hangings, upon which Louis XIV., the
proudest and most pampered man on earth, languished and died. Crockett,
on his pallet in the log cabin, with unglazed window and earthern floor,
was a far less unhappy man, than the dying monarch surrounded with regal
At the end of a fortnight the patient began slowly to mend. His
emaciation was extreme, and his recovery very gradual. After a few weeks
he was able to travel. He was then on a route where wagons passed over a
rough road, teaming the articles needed in a new country. Crockett hired
a wagoner to give him a seat in his wagon and to convey him to the
wagoner's house, which was about twenty miles distant. Gaining strength
by the way, when he arrived there he hired a horse of the wagoner, and
set out for home.
Great was the astonishment of his family upon his arrival, for they had
given him up as dead. The neighbors who set out on this journey with him
had returned and so reported; for they had been misinformed. They told
Mrs. Crockett that they had seen those who were with him when he died,
and had assisted in burying him.
Still the love of change had not been dispelled from the bosom of
Crockett. He did not like the place where he resided. After spending a
few months at home, he set out, in the autumn, upon another exploring
tour. Our National Government had recently purchased, of the Chickasaw
Indians, a large extent of territory in Southern Tennessee. Crockett
thought that in those new lands he would find the earthly paradise of
which he was in search. The region was unsurveyed, a savage wilderness,
and there were no recognized laws and no organized government there.
Crockett mounted his horse, lashed his rifle to his back, filled his
powder-horn and bullet-pouch, and journeying westward nearly a hundred
miles, through pathless wilds whose solitudes had a peculiar charm for
him, came to a romantic spot, called Shoal Creek, in what is now Giles
County, in the extreme southern part of Tennessee. He found other
adventurers pressing into the new country, where land was abundant and
fertile, and could be had almost for nothing.
Log cabins were rising in all directions, in what they deemed quite near
neighborhood, for they were not separated more than a mile or two from
each other. Crockett, having selected his location on the banks of a
crystal stream, summoned, as was the custom, some neighbors to his aid,
and speedily constructed the cabin, of one apartment, to shield his
family from the wind and the rain. Moving with such a family is not a
very arduous undertaking. One or two pack-horses convey all the
household utensils. There are no mirrors, bedsteads, bureaus, or chairs
to be transported. With an auger and a hatchet, these articles are soon
constructed in their new home. The wife, with the youngest child, rides.
The husband, with his rifle upon his shoulder, and followed by the rest
of the children, trudges along on foot.
Should night or storm overtake them, an hour's work would throw up a
camp, with a cheerful fire in front, affording them about the same
cohorts which they enjoyed in the home they had left. A little meal,
baked in the ashes, supplied them with bread. And during the journey of
the day the rifle of the father would be pretty sure to pick up some
game to add to the evening repast.
Crockett and his family reached their new home in safety. Here quite a
new sphere of life opened before the adventurer, and he became so firmly
settled that he remained in that location for three years. In the mean
time, pioneers from all parts were rapidly rearing their cabins upon the
fertile territory, which was then called The New Purchase.
Back to: Biography of David
Source: David Crockett: His Life and
Adventures by John S. C. Abbott
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