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Relatives of David Crockett - That’s David, Not Davy - Holding Reunion

July 30, 1992 GMT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ No coonskin caps, please, at the Davy Crockett family reunion this weekend.

Some members of the family are getting a bit tired of it. The same goes for the name Davy. It was David, mister.

″He never called himself Davy. That’s just another one of the things that cropped up in the movies,″ said Joy Bland, a great-great-great-great- granddaugh ter.

The relatives and Crockett friends, some 200 in all, will gather at Paris and Rutherford, small towns about 120 miles north of Memphis.

Crockett, one of America’s most celebrated frontiersman, was born in 1786 in eastern Tennessee. He made a name for himself in the Creek Indian war of 1813. He moved to western Tennessee in 1817 and was elected twice to Congress.

His descendants gather every two years, alternating between Tennessee and Texas, where Crockett died in 1836 at the Battle of the Alamo.

Crockett had six children by two wives, Polly, who died in 1815, and Elizabeth, who moved the family to Texas after the Alamo fell.

″We get together mainly to keep the legacy alive,″ said Jim Dumas, a founder of Direct Descendants of David Crockett.

Part of the legacy they will be keeping alive this year, in this age of political correctness, is Crockett’s reported attempt to help Indians.

Though Crockett made his name as an Indian fighter, there is also evidence he opposed President Andrew Jackson’s decision to move the Cherokees from the Southeast to reservations in the West.

Crockett was having a falling out with Jackson at the time, however, and writer James Shackford said in a 1956 biography that the frontiersman’s love for Indians appeared to be ″new-found and short-lived.″

For their banquet speaker, the descendants have chosen Robert Youngdeer, former chief of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, headquartered in Cherokee, N.C.

″It is a great privilege to meet the descendants of a man who had the nerve to stand up to the president of the United States,″ said Youngdeer, who now lives in McAlester, Okla. ″Although he killed quite a few Indians, he still stood up for us. That’s life even today. We switch back and forth and take sides.″

The descendants will don period dress for their banquet Saturday night, but suggestions for attire include the request, ″No fur caps, please.″

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″There’s some dissension even among the descendants that the coonskin has been over-exaggerated. He really didn’t wear one that much,″ Dumas said.

Crockett’s coonskin cap became part of Americana largely because of Walt Disney’s 1950s TV series starring Fess Parker.

According to the show, Crockett went to his death at the Alamo bravely swinging Old Betsy, his trusty flintlock. Actually, Crockett may have been captured alive and executed after the battle, historians say.

His reasons for going to Texas have also taken on a different glow over the years. It appears he was more interested in free land and a chance at a renewed political career than in fighting the Mexicans.

Bitter over his defeat for re-election to Congress in 1835, he supposedly told fellow patrons of a Memphis bar, ″You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.″