David Crockett - Life on the Obion
The next day after building the cabin, to which Crockett intended to
move his family, it began to rain, as he says, "rip-roariously." The river
rapidly rose, and the boatmen were ready to resume their voyage. Crockett
stepped out into the forest and shot a deer, which he left as food for
Abram Henry and his little boy, who were to remain in the cabin until his
return. He expected to be absent six or seven days. The stream was very
sluggish. By poling, as it was called, that is, by pushing the boat with
long poles, they reached the encumbrance caused by the hurricane, where
they stopped for the night.
In the morning, as soon as the day dawned, Crockett, thinking it
impossible for them to get through the fallen timber that day, took his
rifle and went into the forest in search of game. He had gone but a short
distance when he came across a fine buck. The animal fell before his
unerring aim, and, taking the prize upon his shoulders, he commenced a
return to the boat.
He had not proceeded far before he came upon the fresh tracks of a herd of
elks. The temptation to follow their trail was to a veteran hunter
irresistible. He threw down his buck, and had not gone far before he came
upon two more bucks, very large and splendid animals. The beautiful
creatures, though manifesting some timidity, did not seem disposed to run,
but, with their soft, womanly eyes, gazed with wonder upon the approaching
stranger. The bullet from Crockett's rifle struck between the eyes of one,
and he fell dead. The other, his companion, exhibited almost human
sympathy. Instead of taking to flight, he clung to his lifeless associate,
looking down upon him as if some incomprehensible calamity had occurred.
Crockett rapidly reloaded his rifle, and the other buck fell dead.
He hung them both upon the limb of a tree, so that they should not be
devoured by the wolves, and followed on in the trail of the elks. He did
not overtake them until nearly noon. They were then beyond rifle-shot, and
kept so, luring him on quite a distance. At length he saw two other fine
bucks, both of which he shot. The intellectual culture of the man may be
inferred from the following characteristic description which he gives of
"I saw two more bucks, very large fellows too. I took a blizzard at one of
them, and up he tumbled. The other ran off a few jumps and stopped, and
stood there until I loaded again and fired at him. I knocked his trotters
from under him, and then I hung them both up. I pushed on again, and about
sunset I saw three other bucks. I down'd with one of them, and the other
two ran off. I hung this one up also, having killed six that day.
"I then pushed on till I got to the hurricane, and at the lower edge of
it, about where I expected the boat was. Here I hollered as hard as I
could roar, but could get no answer. I fired off my gun, and the men on
the boat fired one too. But, quite contrary to my expectations, they had
got through the timber, and were about two miles above me. It was now
dark, and I had to crawl through the fallen timber the best way I could;
and if the reader don't know it was bad enough, I am sure I do. For the
vines and briers had grown all through it, and so thick that a good fat
coon couldn't much more than get along. I got through at last, and went on
to near where I had killed my last deer, and once more fired off my gun,
which was again answered from the boat, which was a little above me. I
moved on as fast as I could, but soon came to water; and not knowing how
deep it was, I halted, and hollered till they came to me with a skiff. I
now got to the boat without further difficulty. But the briers had worked
on me at such a rate that I felt like I wanted sewing up all over. I took
a pretty stiff horn, which soon made me feel much better. But I was so
tired that I could scarcely work my jaws to eat."
The next morning, Crockett took a young man with him and went out into the
woods to bring in the game he had shot. They brought in two of the bucks,
which afforded them all the supply of venison they needed, and left the
others hanging upon the trees. The boatmen then pushed their way up the
river. The progress was slow, and eleven toilsome days passed before they
reached their destination. Crockett had now discharged his debt, and
prepared to return to his cabin. There was a light skiff attached to the
large flat-bottomed boat in which they had ascended the river. This skiff
Crockett took, and, accompanied by a young man by the name of Flavius
Harris, who had decided to go back with him, speedily paddled their way
down the stream to his cabin.
There were now four occupants of this lonely, dreary hut, which was
surrounded by forests and fallen trees and briers and brambles. They all
went to work vigorously in clearing some land for a corn field, that they
might lay in a store for the coming winter. The spring was far advanced,
and the season for planting nearly gone. They had brought some seed with
them on their pack-horse, and they soon had the pleasure of seeing the
tender sprouts pushing up vigorously through the luxuriant virgin soil. It
was not necessary to fence their field. Crockett writes:
"There was no stock nor anything else to disturb our corn except the wild
varmints; and the old serpent himself, with a fence to help him, couldn't
keep them out."
Here Crockett and his three companions remained through the summer and
into the autumn, until they could gather in their harvest of corn. During
that time they lived, as they deemed, sumptuously, upon game. To kill a
grizzly bear was ever considered an achievement of which any hunter might
boast. During the summer, Crockett killed ten of these ferocious monsters.
Their flesh was regarded as a great delicacy. And their shaggy skins were
invaluable in the cabin for beds and bedding. He also shot deer in great
abundance. The smaller game he took, of fat turkeys, partridges, pigeons,
etc., he did not deem worth enumerating.
It was a very lazy, lounging, indolent life. Crockett could any morning go
into the woods and shoot a deer. He would bring all the desirable parts of
it home upon his shoulders, or he would take his pack-horse out with him
for that purpose. At their glowing fire, outside of the cabin if the
weather were pleasant, inside if it rained, they would cook the tender
steaks. They had meal for corn bread; and it will also be remembered that
they had sugar, and ten gallons of whiskey.
The deerskins were easily tanned into soft and pliant leather. They all
knew how to cut these skins, and with tough sinews to sew them into
hunting-shirts, moccasins, and other needed garments. Sitting
Indian-fashion on mattresses or cushions of bearskin, with just enough to
do gently to interest the mind, with no anxiety or thought even about the
future, they would loiter listlessly through the long hours of the summer
Occasionally two or three Indians, on a hunting excursion, would visit the
cabin. These Indians were invariably friendly. Crockett had no more
apprehension that they would trouble him than he had that the elk or the
deer would make a midnight attack upon his cabin. Not unfrequently they
would have a visit from Mr. Owen's household; or they would all go up to
his hut for a carouse. Two or three times, during the summer, small
parties exploring the country came along, and would rest a day or two
under Crockett's hospitable roof. Thus with these men, with their peculiar
habits and tastes, the summer probably passed away as pleasantly as with
most people in this world of care and trouble.
Early in the autumn, Crockett returned to Central Tennessee to fetch his
family to the new home. Upon reaching his cabin in Giles County, he was
met by a summons to attend a special session of the Legislature. He
attended, and served out his time, though he took but little interest in
legislative affairs. His thoughts were elsewhere, and he was impatient for
removal, before cold weather should set in, to his far-distant home.
Late in October he set out with his little family on foot, for their long
journey of one hundred and fifty miles through almost a pathless forest.
His poverty was extreme. But the peculiar character of the man was such
that he did net seem to regard that at all. Two pack-horses conveyed all
their household goods. Crockett led the party, with a child on one arm and
his rifle on the other. He walked gayly along, singing as merrily as the
birds. Half a dozen dogs followed him. Then came the horses in single
file. His wife and older children, following one after the other in single
file along the narrow trail, closed up the rear. It was a very singular
procession, thus winding its way, through forest and moor, over hills and
prairies, to the silent shores of the Mississippi. The eventful journey
was safely accomplished, and he found all things as he had left them. A
rich harvest of golden ears was waving in his corn-field; and his
comfortable cabin, in all respects as comfortable as the one he had left,
was ready to receive its inmates.
He soon gathered in his harvest, and was thus amply supplied with bread
for the winter. Fuel, directly at his hand, was abundant, and thus, as we
may say, his coal-bin was full. Game of every kind, excepting buffaloes,
was ranging the woods, which required no shelter or food at his expense,
and from which he could, at pleasure, select any variety of the most
delicious animal food he might desire. Thus his larder was full to
repletion. The skins of animals furnished them with warm and comfortable
clothing, easily decorated with fringes and some bright coloring, whose
beauty was tasteful to every eye. Thus the family wardrobe was amply
stored. Many might have deemed Crockett a poor man. He regarded himself as
one of the lords of creation.
Christmas was drawing nigh. It may be doubted whether Crockett had the
slightest appreciation of the sacred character of that day which
commemorates the advent of the Son of God to suffer and die for the sins
of the world. With Crockett it had ever been a day of jollification. He
fired salutes with his rifle. He sung his merriest songs. He told his
funniest stories. He indulged himself in the highest exhilaration which
whiskey could induce.
As this holiday approached, Crockett was much troubled in finding that his
powder was nearly expended, and that he had none "to fire Christmas guns."
This seemed really to annoy him more than that he had none to hunt with.
In the mean time, a brother-in-law had moved to that region, and had
reared his cabin at a distance of six miles from the hut of David
Crockett, on the western bank of Rutherford's Fork, one of the tributaries
of Obion River. He had brought with him a keg of powder for Crockett,
which had not yet been delivered.
The region all around was low and swampy. The fall rains had so swollen
the streams that vast extents of territory were inundated. All the
river-bottoms were covered with water. The meadows which lined the Obion,
where Crockett would have to pass, were so flooded that it was all of a
mile from shore to shore.
||The energy which Crockett
displayed on the difficult and perilous journey, illustrates those
remarkable traits of character which have given him such wide
renown. There must be something very extraordinary about a man which
can make his name known throughout a continent. And of the forty
millions of people in the United States, there is scarcely one, of
mature years, who has not heard the name of David Crockett.
When Crockett told his wife that he had decided to go to his
brother's for the powder, she earnestly remonstrated, saying that it
was at the imminent hazard of his life. The ground was covered with
snow. He would have to walk at least a mile through icy water, up to
his waist, and would probably have to swim the channel. He then,
with dripping clothes, and through the cold wintry blast, would have
to walk several miles before he could reach his brother's home.
Crockett persisted in his determination, saying, "I have no powder
for Christmas, and we are out of meat."
He put on some woollen wrappers and a pair of deerskin moccasins. He
then tied up a small bundle; of clothes, with shoes and stockings, which
he might exchange for his dripping garments when he should reach his
brother's cabin. I quote from his own account of the adventure.
"I didn't before know how much a person could suffer and not die. The snow
was about four inches deep when I started. And when I got to the water,
which was only about a quarter of a mile off, it looked like an ocean. I
put in, and waded on till I came to the channel, where I crossed that on a
high log. I then took water again, having my gun and all my hunting tools
along, and waded till I came to a deep slough, that was wider than the
river itself. I had often crossed it on a log; but behold, when I got
there no log was to be seen.
"I know'd of an island in the slough, and a sapling stood on it close to
the side of that log, which was now entirely under water. I know'd
further, that the water was about eight or ten feet deep under the log,
and I judged it to be three feet deep over it. After studying a little
what I should do, I determined to cut a forked sapling, which stood near
me, so as to lodge it against the one that stood on the island. In this I
succeeded very well. I then cut me a pole, and then crawled along on my
sapling till I got to the one it was lodged against, which was about six
feet above the water.
"I then felt about with the pole till I found the log, which was just
about as deep under the water as I had judged. I then crawled back and got
my gun, which I had left at the stump of the sapling I had cut, and again
made my way to the place of lodgment, and then climbed down the other
sapling so as to get on the log. I felt my way along with my feet in the
water about waist-deep, but it was a mighty ticklish business. However, I
got over, and by this time I had very little feeling in my feet and legs,
as I had been all the time in the water, except what time I was crossing
the high log over the river and climbing my lodged sapling.
"I went but a short distance when I came to another slough, over which
there was a log, but it was floating on the water. I thought I could walk
it, so I mounted on it. But when I had got about the middle of the deep
water, somehow or somehow else, it turned over, and in I went up to my
head. I waded out of this deep water, and went ahead till I came to the
highland, where I stopped to pull of my wet clothes, and put on the others
which I held up with my gun above water when I fell in."
This exchanging of his dripping garments for dry clothes, standing in the
snow four inches deep, and exposed to the wintry blast, must have been a
pretty severe operation. Hardy as Crockett was, he was so chilled and
numbed by the excessive cold that his flesh had scarcely any feeling. He
tied his wet clothes together and hung them up on the limb of a tree, to
drip and dry He thought he would then set out on the full run, and
endeavor thus to warm himself by promoting the more rapid circulation of
his blood. But to his surprise he could scarcely move. With his utmost
exertions he could not take a step more than six inches in length. He had
still five miles to walk, through a rough, pathless forest, encumbered
By great and painful effort he gradually recovered the use of his limbs,
and toiling along for two or three hours, late in the evening was cheered
by seeing the light of a bright fire shining through the chinks between
the logs of his brother's lonely cabin. He was received with the utmost
cordiality. Even his hardy pioneer brother listened with astonishment to
the narrative of the perils he had surmounted and the sufferings he had
endured. After the refreshment of a warm supper, Crockett wrapped himself
in a bearskin, and lying down upon the floor, with his feet to the fire,
slept the sweet, untroubled sleep of a babe. In the morning he awoke as
well as ever, feeling no bad consequences from the hardships of the
The next morning a freezing gale from the north wailed through the
snow-whitened forest, and the cold was almost unendurable. The earnest
persuasions of his brother and his wife induced him to remain with them
for the day. But, with his accustomed energy, instead of enjoying the
cosey comfort of the Fireside, he took his rifle, and went out into the
woods, wading the snow and breasting the gale. After the absence of an
hour or two, he returned tottering beneath the load of two deer, which he
had shot, and which he brought to the cabin on his shoulders. Thus he made
a very liberal contribution to the food of the family, so that his visit
was a source of profit to them, not of loss.
All the day, and during the long wintry night, the freezing blasts blew
fiercely, and the weather grew more severely cold. The next morning his
friends urged him to remain another day. They all knew that the water
would be frozen over, but not sufficiently hard to bear his weight, and
this would add greatly to the difficulty and the danger of his return. It
seemed impossible that any man could endure, on such a day, fording a
swollen stream, a mile in breadth, the water most of the way up to his
waist, in some places above his head, and breaking the ice at every step.
The prospect appalled even Crockett himself. He therefore decided to
remain till the next morning, though he knew that his family would be left
in a state of great anxiety. He hoped that an additional day and night
might so add to the thickness of the ice that it would bear his weight.
He therefore shouldered his musket and again went into the woods on a
hunt. Though he saw an immense bear, and followed him for some distance,
he was unable to shoot him. After several hours' absence, he returned
Another morning dawned, lurid and chill, over the gloomy forest. Again his
friends entreated him not to run the risk of an attempt to return in such
fearful weather. "It was bitter cold," he writes, "but I know'd my family
was without meat, and I determined to get home to them, or die a-trying."
We will let Crockett tell his own story of his adventures in going back:
"I took my keg of powder and all my hunting tools and cut out. When I got
to the water, it was a sheet of ice as far as I could see. I put on to it,
but hadn't got far before it broke through with me; and so I took out my
tomahawk, and broke my way along before me for a considerable distance.
"At last I got to where the ice would bear me for a short distance, and I
mounted on it and went ahead. But it soon broke in again, and I had to
wade on till I came to my floating log. I found it so tight this time,
that I know'd it couldn't give me another fall, as it was frozen in with
the ice. I crossed over it without much difficulty, and worked along till
I came to my lodged sapling and my log under the water.
"The swiftness of the current prevented the water from freezing over it;
and so I had to wade, just as I did when I crossed it before. When I got
to my sapling, I left my gun, and climbed out with my powder-keg first,
and then went back and got my gun. By this time, I was nearly frozen to
death; but I saw all along before me where the ice had been fresh broke,
and I thought it must be a bear struggling about in the water. I therefore
fresh-primed my gun, and, cold as I was, I was determined to make war on
him if we met. But I followed the trail till it led me home. Then I found
that it had been made by my young man that lived with me, who had been
sent by my distressed wife to see, if he could, what had become of me, for
they all believed that I was dead. When I got home, I wasn't quite dead,
but mighty nigh it; but had my powder, and that was what I went for."
The night after Crockett's return a heavy rain fell, which, toward
morning, turned to sleet. But there was no meat in the cabin. There were
at that time three men who were inmates of that lowly hut--Crockett, a
young man, Flavius Harris, who had taken up his abode with the pioneer,
and a brother in-law, who had recently emigrated to that wild country, and
had reared his cabin not far distant from Crockett's. They all turned out
hunting. Crockett, hoping to get a bear, went up the river into the dense
and almost impenetrable thickets, where the gigantic forest had been swept
low by the hurricane. The other two followed down the stream in search of
turkeys, grouse, and such small game.
Crockett took with him three dogs, one of which was an old hound,
faithful, sagacious, but whose most vigorous days were gone. The dogs were
essential in hunting bears. By their keen scent they would find the
animal, which fact they would announce to the hunter by their loud
barking. Immediately a fierce running fight would ensue. By this attack
the bear would be greatly retarded in his flight, so that the hunter could
overtake him, and he would often be driven into a tree, where the unerring
rifle-bullet would soon bring him down.
The storm of sleet still raged, and nothing could be more gloomy than the
aspect of dreariness and desolation which the wrecked forest presented
with its dense growth of briers and thorns. Crockett toiled through the
storm and the brush about six miles up the river, and saw nothing. He then
crossed over, about four miles, to another stream. Still no game appeared.
The storm was growing more violent, the sleet growing worse and worse.
Even the bears sought shelter from the pitiless wintry gale. The bushes
were all bent down with the ice which clung to their branches, and were so
bound together that it was almost impossible for any one to force his way
The ice upon the stream would bear Crockett's weight. He followed it down
a mile or two, when his dogs started up a large flock of turkeys. He shot
two of them. They were immensely large, fat, and heavy. Tying their legs
together, he slung them over his shoulder, and with this additional burden
pressed on his toilsome way. Ere long he became so fatigued that he was
compelled to sit down upon a log to rest.
Just then his dogs began to bark furiously. He was quite sure that they
had found a bear. Eagerly he followed the direction they indicated, as
fast as he could force his way along. To his surprise he found that the
three dogs had stopped near a large tree, and were barking furiously at
nothing. But as soon as they saw him approaching they started off again,
making the woods resound with their baying. Having run about a quarter of
a mile, he could perceive that again they had stopped. When Crockett
reached them there was no game in sight. The dogs, barking furiously
again, as soon as they saw him approaching plunged into the thicket.
For a third time, and a fourth time, this was repeated. Crockett could not
understand what it meant. Crockett became angry at being thus deceived,
and resolved that he would shoot the old hound, whom he considered the
ringleader in the mischief, as soon as he got near enough to do so.
"With this intention," he says, "I pushed on the harder, till I came to
the edge of an open prairie; and looking on before my dogs, I saw about
the biggest bear that ever was seen in America. He looked, at the distance
he was from me, like a large black bull. My dogs were afraid to attack
him, and that was the reason they had stopped so often that I might
This is certainly a remarkable instance of animal sagacity. The three
dogs, by some inexplicable conference among themselves, decided that the
enemy was too formidable for them to attack alone. They therefore summoned
their master to their aid. As soon as they saw that he was near enough to
lend his cooperation, then they fearlessly assailed the monster.
|The sight inspired Crockett with new life.
Through thickets, briers, and brambles they all rushed--bear,
dogs, and hunter. At length, the shaggy monster, so fiercely
assailed, climbed for refuge a large black-oak tree, and sitting
among the branches, looked composedly down upon the dogs barking
fiercely at its foot. Crockett crept up within about eighty yards,
and taking deliberate aim at his breast, fired. The bullet struck
and pierced the monster directly upon the spot at which it was
aimed. The bear uttered a sharp cry, made a convulsive movement
with one paw, and remained as before.
Speedily Crockett reloaded his rifle, and sent another bullet to
follow the first. The shaggy brute shuddered in every limb, and then
tumbled head-long to the icy ground. Still he was not killed. The dogs
plunged upon him, and there was a tremendous fight. The howling of the
bear, and the frenzied barking of the dogs, with their sharp cries of
pain as the claws of the monster tore their flesh, and the deathly
struggle witnessed as they rolled over and over each other in the fierce
fight, presented a terrific spectacle.
Crockett hastened to the aid of his dogs. As soon as the bear saw him
approach, he forsook the inferior, and turned with all fury upon the
superior foe. Crockett was hurrying forward with his tomahawk in one
hand and his big butcher-knife in the other, when the bear, with eyes
flashing fire, rushed upon him. Crockett ran back, seized his rifle, and
with a third bullet penetrated the monster's brain and he fell dead. The
dogs and their master seemed to rejoice alike in their great
By the route which Crockett had pursued, he was about twelve miles from
home. Leaving the huge carcass where the animal had fallen, he
endeavored to make a straight line through the forest to his cabin. That
he might find his way back again, he would, at every little distance,
blaze, as it was called, a sapling, that is, chip off some of the bark
with his hatchet. When he got within a mile of home this was no longer
The other two men had already returned to the cabin. As the wolves might
devour the valuable meat before morning, they all three set out
immediately, notwithstanding their fatigue and the still raging storm,
and taking with them four pack-horses, hastened back to bring in their
treasure. Crockett writes:
"We got there just before dark, and struck a fire, and commenced
butchering my bear. It was some time in the night before we finished it.
And I can assert, on my honor, that I believe he would have weighed six
hundred pounds. It was the second largest I ever saw. I killed one, a
few years after, that weighed six hundred and seventeen pounds. I now
felt fully compensated for my sufferings in going back after my powder;
and well satisfied that a dog might sometimes be doing a good business,
even when he seemed to be barking up the wrong tree.
"We got our meat home, and I had the pleasure to know that we now had a
plenty, and that of the best; and I continued through the winter to
supply my family abundantly with bear-meat, and venison from the woods."
In the early spring, Crockett found that he had a large number of
valuable skins on hand, which he had taken during the winter. About
forty miles southeast from Crockett's cabin, in the heart of Madison
County, was the thriving little settlement of Jackson. Crockett packed
his skins on a horse, shouldered his rifle, and taking his hardy little
son for a companion, set off there to barter his peltries for such
articles of household use as he could convey back upon his horse. The
journey was accomplished with no more than the ordinary difficulties. A
successful trade was effected, and with a rich store of coffee, sugar,
powder, lead, and salt, the father and son prepared for their return.
Crockett found there some of his old fellow-soldiers of the Creek War.
When all things were ready for a start, he went to bid adieu to his
friends and to take a parting dram with them. There were three men
present who were candidates for the State Legislature. While they were
having a very merry time, one, as though uttering a thought which had
that moment occurred to him, exclaimed, "Why, Crockett, you ought to
offer yourself for the Legislature for your district." Crockett replied,
"I live at least forty miles from any white settlement." Here the matter
About ten days after Crockett's return home, a stranger, passing along,
stopped at Crockett's cabin and told him that he was a candidate for
Legislature, and took from his pocket a paper, and read to him the
announcement of the fact. There was something in the style of the
article which satisfied Crockett that there was a little disposition to
make fun of him; and that his nomination was intended as a burlesque.
This roused him, and he resolved to put in his claim with all his zeal.
He consequently hired a man to work upon his farm, and set out on an
Though very few people had seen Crockett, he had obtained very
considerable renown in that community of backwoodsmen as a great
bear-hunter. Dr. Butler, a man of considerable pretensions, and, by
marriage, a nephew of General Jackson, was the rival candidate, and a
formidable one. Indeed, he and his friends quite amused themselves with
the idea that "the gentleman from the cane," as they contemptuously
designated Crockett, could be so infatuated as to think that there was
the least chance for him. The population of that wilderness region was
so scarce that the district for which a representative was to be chosen
consisted of eleven counties.
A great political gathering was called, which was to be held in Madison
County, which was the strongest of them all. Here speeches were to be
made by the rival candidates and their friends, and electioneering was
to be practised by all the arts customary in that rude community. The
narrative of the events which ensued introduces us to a very singular
state of society. At the day appointed there was a large assembly, in
every variety of backwoods costume, among the stumps and the lowly
cabins of Jackson. Crockett mingled with the crowd, watching events,
listening to everything which was said, and keeping himself as far as
Dr. Butler, seeing a group of men, entered among them, and called for
whiskey to treat them all. The Doctor had once met Crockett when a few
weeks before he had been in Jackson selling his furs. He however did not
recognize his rival among the crowd. As the whiskey was passing freely
around, Crockett thought it a favorable moment to make himself known,
and to try his skill at an electioneering speech. He was a good-looking
man, with a face beaming with fun and smiles, and a clear, ringing
voice. He jumped upon a stump and shouted out, in tones which sounded
far and wide, and which speedily gathered all around him.
"Hallo! Doctor Butler; you don't know me do you? But I'll make you know
me mighty well before August. I see they have weighed you out against
me. But I'll beat you mighty badly."
Butler pleasantly replied, "Ah, Colonel Crockett, is that you? Where did
you come from?"
Crockett rejoined, "Oh, I have just crept out from the cane, to see what
discoveries I could make among the white folks. You think you have
greatly the advantage of me, Butler. 'Tis true I live forty miles from
any settlement. I am poor, and you are rich. You see it takes two
coonskins here to buy a quart. But I've good dogs, and my little boys at
home will go to their death to support my election. They are mighty
industrious. They hunt every night till twelve o'clock. It keeps the
little fellows mighty busy to keep me in whiskey. When they gets tired,
I takes my rifle and goes out and kills a wolf, for which the State pays
me three dollars. So one way or other I keeps knocking along."
Crockett perhaps judged correctly that the candidate who could furnish
the most whiskey would get the most votes. He thus adroitly informed
these thirsty men of his readiness and his ability to furnish them with
all the liquor they might need. Strange as his speech seems to us, it
was adapted to the occasion, and was received with roars of laughter and
"Well, Colonel," said Dr. Butler, endeavoring to clothe his own
countenance with smiles, "I see you can beat me electioneering."
"My dear fellow," shouted out Crockett, "you don't call this
electioneering, do you? When you see me electioneering, I goes fixed for
the purpose. I've got a suit of deer-leather clothes, with two big
pockets. So I puts a bottle of whiskey in one, and a twist of tobacco in
t'other, and starts out. Then, if I meets a friend, why, I pulls out my
bottle and gives him a drink. He'll be mighty apt, before he drinks, to
throw away his tobacco. So when he's done, I pulls my twist out of
t'other pocket and gives him a chaw. I never likes to leave a man worse
off than when I found him. If I had given him a drink and he had lost
his tobacco, he would not have made much. But give him tobacco, and a
drink too, and you are mighty apt to get his vote."
With such speeches as these, interlarded with fun and anecdote, and a
liberal supply of whiskey, Crockett soon made himself known through all
the grounds, and he became immensely popular. The backwoodsmen regarded
him as their man, belonging to their class and representing their
Dr. Butler was a man of some culture, and a little proud and overbearing
in his manners. He had acquired what those poor men deemed considerable
property. He lived in a framed house, and in his best room he had a rug
or carpet spread over the middle of the floor. This carpet was a luxury
which many of the pioneers had never seen or conceived of. The Doctor,
standing one day at his window, saw several persons, whose votes he
desired, passing along, and he called them in to take a drink.
There was a table in the centre of the room, with choice liquors upon
it. The carpet beneath the table covered only a small portion of the
floor, leaving on each side a vacant space around the room. The men
cautiously walked around this space, without daring to put their feet
upon the carpet. After many solicitations from Dr. Butler, and seeing
him upon the carpet, they ventured up to the table and drank. They,
however, were under great restraint, and soon left, manifestly not
pleased with their reception.
Calling in at the next log house to which they came, they found there
one of Crockett's warm friends. They inquired of him what kind of a man
the great bear-hunter was, and received in reply that he was a
first-rate man, one of the best hunters in the world; that he was not a
bit proud; that he lived in a log cabin, without any glass for his
windows, and with the earth alone for his floor.
"Ah!" they exclaimed with one voice, "he's the fellow for us. We'll
never give our votes for such a proud man as Butler. He called us into
his house to take a drink, and spread down one of his best bed-quilts
for us to walk on. It was nothing but a piece of pride."
The day of election came, and Crockett was victorious by a majority of
two hundred and forty-seven votes. Thus he found himself a second time a
member of the Legislature of the State of Tennessee, and with a
celebrity which caused all eyes to be turned toward "the gentleman from
Back to: Biography of David
Source: David Crockett: His Life and
Adventures by John S. C. Abbott
One of the largest websites online providing free genealogy. A must see for Native American research!
Find Your Ancestors at SurnameWeb
The oldest, most complete listings of surnames and related websites online.
Free Family Tree
Family Tree Guide is a quick, simple and free way for you to share your family
history. Within minutes, you can have a dynamically driven website that
creatively portrays your family tree.
These free genealogy charts will enable you to begin development of a notebook
in which you can track your ancestry as you research it.
Copyright, 2005-2010 by
Webified Development all rights reserved.