Did Davy Crockett survive the battle of the Alamo?
Polk County Enterprise - March 2008
By Bob Bowman
Did Davy Crockett survive the battle of the Alamo, only to be sent to Mexico as a prisoner and forced to work in a mine? The possibility was raised in an edition of Southwestern Historical Quarterly in April of 1940. The Quarterly reported: “On January 18, Romana Trout of Graham discovered in the National Archives a letter from John Crockett, son of David Crockett, to Texas Secretary of State John Forsyth,” which implied that Crockett “may have been sent as a prisoner to the mines in Mexico and (was) not killed at the Alamo...”
The letter, dated April 30, 1840, said John Crockett “was not too sanguine as to the report, but requested an investigation.” Miss Trout referred to a letter dated February 6, 1840, written by William C. White at Camargo, on the border of Texas and Mexico, and published in the Austin Gazette. White said he was a former citizen of the United States, but had been in Mexico some seventeen years. White said his work required him to travel widely and, while at Guadalajara, a Mexican came to him and said there was a man from Texas in the Salinas mine who wanted to talk to any American. White said he went to the mine and saw the American, who claimed he was Davy Crockett.
The man said he had been captured at the Alamo and had been carried by his captors through Texas and Mexico before he was put to work in a mine at Guadalajara. White said the man wrote a letter to be mailed to his family in Tennessee. The letter was mailed at Matamoros to a friend at New Orleans with instructions to send the letter to Crockett’s family. White said he also gave a copy of the letter to Colonel D.L. Wood, who promised to publish it in an unidentified newspaper or periodical, but White said it never appeared. White also gave another copy of the supposed Crockett letter to a Mexican and asked him to deliver it from Camargo to Austin via Bastrop.
The 68-year-old Southwestern Historical Quarterly article poses a lot of questions. For example, who was William C. White and who was Colonel D.L. Wood? The possibility that Davy escaped popped again in a 1907 issue of Heritage magazine, published by the Texas Historical Foundation, but the story is different. The story said a trunk found in New York State 45 years ago was lined with old newspapers, including a May 12, 1836, issue from the Courtland, NY, Advocate. The paper carried a story that Crockett was found alive among a pile of bodies of slain Alamo defenders in March of 1836, carried to a home, and recovered. The story doesn’t say what happened to Davy after that.
Davy isn’t the first and won’t be the last hero or famous person to be resurrected after death. Others in Texas who come to mind are John Wilkes Booth, William Clarke Quantrill and Jesse James, who supposedly made their way to Texas after reports of their deaths. Davy seems to have been the best of these, and we can only hope that he died at the Alamo–and will remain one of our most enduring Texas heroes. Bob Bowman is the author of more than 35 books about East Texas history and folklore.