Brother Davy Crockett — The Rest of the Story

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR

A section of the painting "Fall of the Alamo" by
Robert Onderdonk features Davy Crockett and his band
of Tennessee volunteers near the end of the battle.
It has long been a well-known historical fact Brother Davy Crockett (1786–1836) was a patriot and hero who gave his life in defense of freedom at the Alamo in 1836.  By the late 19th century, however, Crockett was largely a forgotten figure.  The events leading to Texas' independence and eventual statehood were long in the past and very few remembered the names of the brave soldiers who helped bring it about.  The situation changed when, in the mid-1950s, Brother Crockett transcended all that and became an American icon with the release of Walt Disney's television series about his life, as well as the movie, "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier."  Since that time the series has been replayed to the point that every kid learns about Crockett's heroism at an early age.

Interestingly, Crockett's rise to the level of superstar almost didn't happen.

In 1946, famed artist Thomas Hart Benton (related to two famous Masons with the same name, but not a Mason himself) briefly worked for Disney, and came to him with an idea for a show.  He presented Disney with an outline for a musical about Crockett's life called "Hunter From Kentucky."

To be generous, Disney (who as a youth was a DeMolay) thought Benton's concept was poor and he quickly shelved the project — with the intention it would never be used.  However, in 1954, the weekly TV series known today as The Wonderful World of Disney premiered.  Less than a year later, the Disneyland theme park opened, TV ratings skyrocketed and Disney started a daily show, The Mickey Mouse Club.  Producing a minimum of six shows per week, Disney's appetite for material became voracious.  So he went back to his "dead ideas" file and there he found Benton's mercifully forgotten manuscript.


Disney handed the project to his staff, which reworked the idea into something that, in reality, bore little if any resemblance to the outline from Benton.  The product Disney's talented writers came up with arguably might be the most popular show ever to emerge from the Disney studios — but one thing is certain: the series almost instantly catapulted Brother Davy Crockett from obscurity to rock star status.

~SLH

Bro. Steve Harrison, 33°, is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is the editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine, author of the book Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research and also its Worshipful Master. He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog as well as several other Masonic publications. His latest book, Freemasons: Tales From the Craft, will be released later this year.

3 comments:

  1. You assume that Davy Crockett was a Mason. But, you provide no citation or evidence. How do we know that he was a Mason?

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  2. While serving in the United States House of Representatives, Crockett became a Freemason. He entrusted his masonic apron to the Weakly Lodge in Tennessee before leaving for Texas, and it still survives today. (Publication from the Grand Lodge of Texas, on Masonic Research).
    Do a little homework dude, before "opening mouth and removing all doubt."

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  3. Davy Crockett most likely belonged to a Lodge near his home in Weakley County, Tennessee. A fire destroyed the Lodge during the Civil War and, along with it, all membership records. His Masonic apron, however, survives. Crockett left the apron with the county for safekeeping prior to his trip to Texas. Its provenance is excellent and confirms his membership. The Grand Lodge of Texas recognizes Crockett as a Freemason and recognizes him, along with Travis, Bowie and others on the Masonic wall of honor at the Alamo.

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