Last week I was working at the Old Buncombe County Genealogical Library (OBCGS) and was surprised to have a call from John Le at our local television station WLOS asking about the relationship between Elizabeth Patton and Davy Crockett. We made a few phone calls to our local experts and found the right books with the story. He was researching background information because a portrait of her was being auctioned and he wanted to know more about her relationship with Crockett.
John arrived within 30 minutes and started interviewing me right away. This year, I am the president of OBCGS, so I was the logical one to talk on camera. Here is a link to the story.
The connection comes when Elizabeth Patton’s husband, James Patton, died in the Creek Indian War in Tennessee in 1814. His good friend, David (Davy) Crockett, was fighting alongside him. When James was shot and knew he was going to die, he asked Davy to take his few personal belongings back to his wife, Elizabeth. It took Davy a few months to accomplish the task because his wife died in childbirth shortly after that, but he finally arrived in Swannanoa, NC to return James’ belongings.
Elizabeth (b. 22 May 1788 in Burke County, NC) was the daughter of Robert and Rebecca Patton. Robert was born in Ireland and he came to America with his father, John Patton, and his brother, Elijah Patton, looking for a place to live and ultimately settled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Robert built a good life in Swannanoa and was part of the prominent Patton family who were instrumental in building Asheville, NC into a thriving town at the turn of the 19th century.
Davy Crockett (b. 17 Aug 1786 in Tennessee) was the son of John and Rebecca (Hawkins) Crockett. He was not the kind of man to stay home and farm – as early as age 12 he was sent to Virginia and again to West Virginia to work to help pay his father’s bills. As a man, he was better suited to roam the frontier taming the land for pioneers, serving in Congress (as a Representative from Tennessee) and helping keep newly established settlements safe for the residents.
Once he met Elizabeth, Davy fell in love with her and courted her for some time before she agreed to marry him in 1815. They each had children from their previous marriages and also had three children of their own during their marriage, a boy and two girls.
Davy and his children moved in with Elizabeth and family on her farm in Eastern Tennessee. Elizabeth was a strong business woman and managed the farming business while Davy traveled on other pursuits. He served in several political positions that led to his election to the House of Representatives. After losing the second election, he vowed to move to Texas (where a new territory was opening up for settlement). While there, he naturally stepped in to help fight for their independence from Mexico. Ultimately, he died in the Battle of the Alamo in 1836 and became a hero who Texans celebrated with a monument to his service.
Elizabeth stayed in Tennessee for some years after his death. Texas issued a land warrant in 1853 in honor of her husband and his service in the Battle of the Alamo. She and her remaining children still at home moved there and built a new farm in the dangerous territory. She lived there until 31 Jan 1863 when she died while on a walk. She was buried there and is honored with a statue in the smallest park in Texas, the Acton State Park and Monument (now in Hood County, TX).