Words by Peggy Purser Freeman
“When I was in elementary school, I knew that granny was the granddaughter of David Crockett.” Carolyn Cotton, three-times great-granddaughter of the legendary hero and congressman, explained. Carolyn knew the story of the Alamo and how Crockett came from Tennessee in 1836, to help the Anglo-Texans and Tejanos suffering under the Mexican dictator Santa Anna.
“Texas history and family have always been important in my life,” Carolyn continued. “But it wasn’t until I was an adult when the reality of the Alamo touched me. One year, at the Alamo ceremony, hosted on March 6th in San Antonio, I waited in the pre-dawn darkness with about 200 other Texans as the story of the thirteen-day siege of the Alamo unfolded. As the ceremony continued I watched the thirteen candles, held by thirteen women in period costumes. I heard the thirteen black-powder volleys. I stood at the well-known part of the Alamo where there was no wall—the place my three-times great-grandfather and his group from Tennessee fought and died defending freedom. Suddenly, I had to back away. It became real to me that day.”
In 1854, Elizabeth Crockett left Tennessee with her daughter, Rebecca, sons, Robert Patton Crockett and George Patton, and their families to claim 1280 acres about six miles from present-day Granbury—a grant from the Republic of Texas for David’s service. Since then, Crockett descendants have lived in Granbury.
Being the three-times great-granddaughter of David and Elizabeth, Laurie Ann Matthews recently moved to Granbury to be close to her children and grandchildren. “My parents told me about our Crockett roots when I was in elementary school. My father, Kenneth Wayne Hendricks, was a career military man, so we moved often, but my grandmother, Gladys Crockett Hendricks, was the local historian in the Granbury area and a charter member of Elizabeth Crockett Daughters of the American Revolution.” Laurie explained. “Knowing I was David Crockett’s descendant made me try to be more courageous and to live with integrity and honor for my fellow man and country. It’s inspiring to know that even though it had been many years after Davy died, Elizabeth still came to Texas with her family. It makes me most proud to know my grandparents and my dad worked to keep Texas history alive.”
Laurie’s son, Errol Flannery, shared how being the four-times great-grandson of Elizabeth and David Crockett has impacted his life. Errol and his wife, Heather, and their daughter, Cailyn, moved to Granbury in 2015.
“For as long as I can remember, I have been visiting family in Granbury. We used to visit my great-grandmother, Gladys (Crockett) Hendricks, who lived her entire life here until she passed away in 1987. In 1984, my grandfather Ken Hendricks moved back to Granbury where he and my grandmother became involved in the community. It feels more like home here than any place in the world.. As a child, I remember feeling pride whenever someone mentioned ‘Davy’ Crockett. In my twenties, I became more involved in our family organization, the direct descendants and kin of David Crockett. I’m a proud member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas. I know I have no right to rest on the laurels of David Crockett, but I’m fortunate to have a well-known link to a linchpin in our history. That has given me a calling to do my part to preserve history in its original truth. We cannot allow any of our history, whether it’s pleasant or not, to be altered by those who would twist it into something it isn’t in order to meet a convenient need or more ‘acceptable’ viewpoint. We must remember that every aspect of our history has determined our course, and so it’s not just important, but it’s essential that we retain it as it really happened.”
Errol and his mom’s favorite David Crockett quote, “Be always sure you are right, then go ahead,” was first used in a letter to one of David’s daughters.
“She was contemplating marriage and asked his opinion on the matter,” Errol explained. “Instead of attempting to sway her decision, David empowered her to consider carefully and then decide for herself. I think of this message as a father’s simple advice to his beloved child.
“The life of David Crockett inspires me. On a smaller scale, I’m inspired by the life of Ashley Crockett, one of David’s grandsons and my great-great-grandfather. He was born here and never left the area, passing away at 96. He became a successful area newspaper editor and publisher, starting several newspapers in Granbury, Glen Rose and Tolar. He was given an honorary post as Assistant Sergeant-At-Arms in the State Senate. He never made a fortune, but was well liked in the community and loved by his family.”
Elizabeth Crockett’s children recalled that she spent much of her energies back in west Tennessee, tending to the sick in the absence of practicing doctors in the area. She traveled for miles around her home with her personal medicine kit to treat the ill.
Like her four-times great-grandmother, Bridget Alison Clary practices the gift of healing as a registered nurse at Lake Granbury Medical Center. She and her family moved to Glen Rose in the summer of 2016.
“I think it’s interesting,” Bridget said, “that Davy had to work for quite a while to get Elizabeth to agree to marry him. She wasn’t particularly interested in him in the beginning. As a child, I knew that Davy Crockett was a famous person in history, but as an adult, I’m more able to understand the gravity of what the men at the Alamo did for our great state. My granddad, Kenneth Hendricks, always inspired me to be more interested and involved in our family roots and history—to learn more and participate in keeping that history alive. But since my granddad’s passing almost three years ago, my brother, Errol, has picked up where our granddad left off, working to keep our history alive in this community and in the Crockett family through the Facebook page and family reunions.”
Bridget said her favorite quote from David is his comments to Congress after his defeat for re-election and his well-known argument over Andrew Jackson’s Indian bill, “You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas!” Bridget Clary has portrayed Elizabeth Crockett for the Texas Heroes Foundation (THF).
Carolyn Cotton is a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the friends of the Alamo, the Elizabeth Crockett Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and an active board member of the Direct Descendants of David Crockett (DDDC). She presents at the THF Stroll Through Texas History each year on Texas Independence Day, March 2, in Acton at the Elizabeth Crockett gravesite. Laurie is a member of the Elizabeth Crockett Chapter of the DAR. Errol is the president of the DDDC and Sec./Treasurer of the David Crockett Chapter of the SRT and an Sons of Confederate Veterans member. All are members of the Bridge Street Historical Center, as well. Errol serves on the THF board, often portrays David Crockett, and he and his mother continue Ken Hendrick’s example by sponsoring the Crockett Award at the THF Student History Fair.
Daughters of the Republic of Texas – www.drtinfo.org
Sons of the Republic of Texas – www.srttexas.org
Elizabeth Crockett Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution – www.texasdar.org
Sons of Confederate Veterans – www.scv.org
Sons of the American Revolution – www.sar.org