woman from Tennessee left no letters or diary to provide future generations with
any insight into her thinking, but it’s not hard to imagine her feelings when
she opened the envelope from Austin.|
The communication came from Comptroller James B. Shaw. The state’s chief
financial official begged leave to inform her that under the provisions of “An
Act to provide for ascertaining the Debt of the late Republic of Texas,” approved
by the Legislature on Feb. 7, 1853, her claim for the services rendered by her
late husband had been audited and authenticated. Enclosed she would find a warrant
on the State of Texas in payment of that service “in par funds, as having been
at that rate so available to the Government.”
That wording must have
been about as easy for the 65-year-old widow to understand as it is today, but
Texas had finally reimbursed her family for its loss. The widow’s name was Elizabeth
Patton Crockett. Her husband went by David. And he died hard.
on the morning of March 6, 1836.
Historians continue to debate whether the former U.S. Congressman from Tennessee
went down in the heat of battle swinging his trusty rifle “Old Betsy” or faced
summary execution after surrendering to the Mexicans who had besieged the old
mission for 13 days.
Eight weeks before, writing his children from San
Augustine on Jan. 9, 1836, Crockett had proclaimed Texas
“the garden spot of the world.” He said he intended to settle in the northern
part of Texas and “am in hopes of making a fortune
for myself and family bad as has been my prospects.”
Indeed, the celebrated
frontiersman had never had much luck with money. Nor had he fared a whole lot
better in politics, having famously told his former constituents, “Since you have
chosen to elect a man with a timber toe to succeed me, you may all go to hell
and I will go to Texas.”
of the return Crockett’s estate realized on his ultimate investment can be found
in the State Archives, where Second Class, “B.” certificate No. 6127 remains on
file. After Comptroller Shaw signed the document on Dec. 2, 1854, his office sent
Mrs. Crockett a check from the grateful State of Texas for $24.
Crockett’s paycheck came 17 years late, on Dec. 23, 1837 the Republic of Texas
had issued Bounty Warrant No. 1295 to his heirs. That certificate entitled Mrs.
Crockett to 1,280 acres in North Texas in return for her late husband’s government
service, but the Comanches who roamed the area saw the land as theirs.
Finally, eight years after Texas became a state,
Mrs. Crockett left Tennessee in 1853 with her two children – a grown, married
son named Robert Patton Crockett and a daughter, Matilda, to claim her land. The
Crocketts stayed in Waxahachie
until a surveyor could determine the boundaries of her land, a job he undertook
in exchange for half the property. What Elizabeth ended up with was 640 acres
on Rucker’s Creek, about six miles from present Granbury.
of the Home of Elizabeth Crockett|
Photo courtesy Ruth Cade, 2008
in a log cabin built by her son, Elizabeth spent the last six years of her life
in the place her husband had come to make his fortune. On the morning of Jan.
31, 1860, wearing the widow’s black she had worn since first learning of her husband’s
death, Elizabeth left her cabin to take a walk and shortly fell dead at the age
of 72. |
was buried at the small community of Acton.
Four years later her daughter died and was buried near her.
Senators O. S. Lattimore and Pierce Ward introduced legislation appropriating
$2,000 for “the erection of a monument over the remains of Mrs. Elizabeth Crockett.”
|Explaining the bill
to his senate colleagues, Sen. Ward said he first learned of the Crockett family’s
Hood County connection while a student at Granbury Methodist College in the fall
of 1880. By that time, of course, the only direct survivor was Robert Crockett.|
“Naturally I felt like making his acquaintance and I found him residing near
the banks of the Brazos River, manager and keeper of the toll bridge that spans
the river,” the senator said. “I would often visit him.”
that Crockett took “great pleasure” entertaining “college boys” and would “relate
many incidents of his father’s career as he had learned them when a boy.”
If Ward ever wrote down any of the stories he heard from Robert Crockett,
who died in 1889, they are not known today. But the senator’s bill made it through
the Legislature, and the monument was unveiled in May 1913 by the widow Crockett’s
namesake, her great-granddaughter.
the "Acton State Historic Site" sign by the burial plot|
Photo courtesy Sam
Fenstermacher, June 2005
1949, the 12 by 21-foot burial plot at Acton
has been a state park – Texas’ smallest. |
28-foot marble monument features a statue of a bonneted pioneer woman standing
on a pedestal, her hand forever shading her eyes as she looks to the west, eternally
wondering when her husband will come home.
- March 8, 2005 column
State Historic Site Contact Information
5800 Park Rd 21
c/o Cleburne State Park
Cleburne TX 76031
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