Two Greene Coach buses packed with more than 90 members of a national organization called the Descendants and Kin of Davy Crockett arrived at Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park here about 4:30 p.m. on a tour of Crockett-related sites.
Joy Bland, a Paris, Tenn., resident who is president of the Crockett descendants group, said the group holds reunions every two years. The reunions alternate between locations in Tennessee, where Davy Crockett was born on Aug. 17, 1786, and Texas, where he died at the Alamo in March 1836 while fighting to gain independence from Mexico for Texas.
Bland, who is descended from Davy Crockett's son John Wesley Crockett, said the current reunion of Crockett descendants is taking place around the Crockett Tavern in Morristown this weekend.
Bland said she was a member of a small group of Crockett descendants who formed what grew to be the current organization in 1984 during a meeting at Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park.
She noted that descendants from Tennessee, Texas, New Jersey, California, Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin and Oklahoma are taking part in the 2004 Crockett reunion.
Asked during an interview what she most wanted people to remember about her ancestor, Bland, a proud Tennessean, said: "that he spent most of his life in Tennessee."
Bland said she feels most of the things that contributed to Crockett's character took place in Tennessee.
On hand to greet the Crockett descendants at the park on Friday afternoon were Park Manager Mark Halback; Greeneville Mayor Darrell Bryan; County Commissioner Kevin Morrison, in whose district the park lies; Tammy Kinser, the Greene County Partnership's tourism director; and Candy Adams, executive director of Keep Greene Beautiful.
Also present were several park staff members, who served refreshments to the visitors, and reenactors, including several members of the locally based Nolichuckey Long Hunters group. The group conducts living history demonstrations centered on what life was like for frontiersmen during the period in which Davy Crockett lived in Greene County.
Steve Ricker, the group's leader, said members of the Nolichucky Long Hunters conduct living history programs at Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park the third Saturday of each month.
While the park visit was in progress on Friday afternoon, group president Bland presented to Park Manager Halback a framed print of a portrait of a young Davy Crockett, clad in buckskins and holding a flintlock rifle.
"This is being presented to the state park by the direct descendants and kin of Davy Crockett," Bland said while making the presentation to Halback. "We hope people will enjoy looking at it and that it will add to your museum. We're just happy that you had us today. Some of us are here for the very first time. This is just a great day for us."
Halback thanked the group for the print and said it will be displayed in "a place of honor" at the park.
"This is beautiful," he said. "Thank you very much."
During an earlier interview, Park Manager Halback said he hoped the Crockett descendants would center a future reunion around the Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park.
"This park is important," Commissioner Morrison said during an interview. "It's good for my area and all of Greene County. I wanted to come out, show my support and meet some of the descendants.
We're just delighted to have each and everyone of them here."
Morrison also said he felt the park benefits everyone.
"It's good culturally," he said. "it's good economically, and this is a part of history that our children need to know. If we forget, our children will never know."
Morrison said he felt the visit by the Crockett descendants was helping to attract needed attention to Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park.
"This is attracting attention to the historical aspects of this park and what it means to Greene County," he said. "That can be used as a stepping stone for economic and tourism growth. And that can be a win for every single citizen of Greene County."
David Crockett Attends
One of the Crockett descendants who visited the park on Friday afternoon was David Crockett, a 53-year-old Houston, Texas, resident who said he is a third-generation grandson of Davy Crockett.
David Crockett said he grew up watching the 1950s Walt Disney Company movies about Davy Crockett and once, as a child, met actor Fess Parker, who portrayed Davy Crockett in those films.
"He and (actor) Buddy Ebsen were doing a promotional tour and they stopped in Houston," he said. "I still have a picture of me sitting on Parker's lap when I was 4. I wish I could have gotten it autographed."
David Crockett said his father and great-grandfather had taken part years ago in the dedication of a monument in Acton, Texas, to Davy Crockett's second wife, Elizabeth Patton Crockett.
He said he was making his first visit to Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park.
When told that he appeared to bear some resemblance to his legendary ancestor's portrait, David Crockett said he had heard that comment before, especially in reference to his nose.
Another Crockett descendant with whom a Sun reporter spoke was Frances John, a third-generation granddaughter of Davy Crockett. She resides in Hurst, Texas.
John said she was making her second visit to the park. She said she and her family had driven from Hurst, Texas, to Morristown earlier in the week. "We left at 5 a.m. and it took us until 10:30 p.m., driving straight through," she said.
Another descendant, Carolyn Cotton, a Clifton, Texas, resident, said she also is a third-generation granddaughter of Davy Crockett. Cotton said she also had been to Northeast Tennessee for an earlier reunion.
Cotton said she had met one Crockett descendant from Alaska and others from Wisconsin.
"Davy Crockett got around quite a lot," she said.
Cotton said she had "always known" that she was a Crockett descendant, but had not learned how closely she was related to her ancestor until fairly recently.
Local Crockett Descendant
Tim Massey, of Afton, was one of the few Greene County Crockett descendants who was at the park on Friday. He said he had enjoyed meeting the other descendants.
He noted that he had been brought to Davy Crockett Days events at the park by his parents when he was a child and had since read much about the frontiersman.
Davy Crockett, with little formal schooling, served in the state legislature and in the Congress of the United States before dying a hero's death at the Alamo.
Massey explained that he is descended from Davy Crockett's grandfather, John Crockett, who was killed by Indians, along with his wife, in what is present-day Rogersville in the late 1700s.
Massey said he also descends from the Patton family of which Davy's second wife, Elizabeth Patton, was a member.
The Afton resident said he liked the movie "The Alamo," which was released last spring.
"I think it really put a human face on (Davy) Crockett," he said. "It brought him down to earth instead of making him like he was supernatural."
Massey also said that he felt "The Alamo" was the first film to show Crockett as a musician. "He was a very good fiddle player," Massey said.
Not everyone taking part in the Crockett descendants' visit to the park was an actual descendant.
K.R. Wood, a singer and songwriter from Austin, Texas, who accompanied the group on Friday afternoon, described himself as an "adopted" descendant.
He said he had released a "Crockett Chronicles" compact disc filled with songs about Davy Crockett.
Wood led the group in singing "Rocky Top" and other songs around the Crockett cabin replica on Friday afternoon.
Another Friday afternoon visitor not directly related to Davy Crockett was Joe Bone, of Rutherford in Gibson County, Tenn. Bone said that while he is not a Crockett descendant, he does oversee a restored Crockett residence in Rutherford.
He said the two-story log house was restored in 1955 and is operated by a commission of which he is a member. He said the house is maintained with donations.