Saturday, August 17, 2013


August 17, 2013


Limestone, Tennessee (JFK+50) The song goes...

 "Born on a mountain top in Tennessee, greenest state in the land of the free, raised in the woods so's he knew every tree, killed him a bear when he was only three,"  

but while Limestone is not exactly on a mountaintop and it is highly doubtful that David Crockett was just a toddler when he killed his first bear, it is true that he was born here in East Tennessee on Thursday, August 27, 1786, 227 years ago today.

David Crockett, according to Michael Wallis, was born "in a snug frontier log house on the banks of the Nolichucky River, near its confluence with Limestone Creek."

         Birthplace Cabin Replica
         Davy Crockett State Park
           Greenville, Tennessee
Photo by Brian Stansberry (2008)

Davy's parents were John and Rebecca Crockett and they lived at this place until 1792 when they moved five miles northwest to be closer to Rebecca's brother and sister-in-law.

Their next move was to Jefferson County where they operated a tavern on the road from Knoxville to Abingdon, Virginia.

Crockett, who represented the Volunteer State in the United States Congress and died fighting for liberty at the Alamo, became a legend in his own time.

Davy wrote in his famous autobiography...

"I stood no chance to become great in any other way than by accident."

Michael Wallis writes that while Davy died in Texas, he spent most of his life in Tennessee and more than half in the eastern part of the state where he was born.

But in 1786, Tennessee was part of North Carolina and 8 counties of upper East Tennessee, including Greene where Davy was born, were part of a territory called "The State of Franklin."*

            Map of the State of Franklin
                   by Iamvered (2006)

*The State of Franklin existed from August 1784 to December 1788.  Organizers of the territory intended it to become the 14th state but it was never recognized by the US Congress and reverted back to being part of North Carolina.  Tennessee became the 16th state in 1796.

Davy Crockett was so popular during his own lifetime that a play titled "Lion of the West" was performed in Philadelphia featuring James Hackett as "Colonel Nimrod Wildfire" a character based on Davy's life.

And Crockett enhanced his own legend with the publication of "Sketches and Eccentricities of Colonel David Crockett of West Tennessee".

     Portrait of Colonel David Crockett
           by John Gadsby Chapman
         University of Texas at Austin


I grew up with a special fascination for Davy Crockett enhanced by Walt Disney's "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier" starring Fess Parker

When Fess came to Knoxville on tour, my Dad took me to see and shake hands with him at the old Miller's Department Store on Gay Street. 

        Fess Parker as Davy Crockett
       ABC TV Press Release (c. 1955)


"David Crockett: The Lion of the West," by Michael Wallis, W.W. Norton and Company, New York, 2011.


Chicago, Illinois (JFK+50) Estes Kefauver defeated John F. Kennedy in the balloting for the party's vice-presidential nomination at the 1956 Democratic National Convention meeting here in the Windy City 57 years ago today, August 17, 1956.

Senator Kefauver of Tennessee won the vice-presidential nomination on the second ballot after his colleague, Tennessee Senator Al Gore, Sr. bowed out of the race and threw his support to Kefauver.

Presidential nominee, Adlai Stevenson of Illinois, instead of following the long established tradition of choosing his own running mate had turned the task over to the convention delegates.

Senator Kennedy, representing the state of Massachusetts, gave a gracious concession speech after the balloting in which he asked the convention to make Kefauver's nomination unanimous.

This was the only political contest JFK would ever lose.

                   Senator Estes Kefauver


New Orleans, Louisiana (JFK+50) Lee Harvey Oswald, secretary of the New Orleans chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, was interviewed 50 years ago today, August 17, 1963, on a local radio program here in the city.

Mr. Oswald appeared on WDSU-AM's "Latin Listening Post" and was questioned by William K. Stuckey. 


El Toro, California (JFK+50) Private First Class Lee Harvey Oswald filed  for a hardship discharge from the United States Marine Corps 54 years ago today, August 17, 1959.

Oswald stated in the application that his mother had suffered an injury and needed his support.

Oswald's application for discharge was accepted and he was released from active duty in the USMC on September 11, 1959.