The Frontier Industrialist
Using probably every cent of her inheritance and savings, Elizabeth Patton Crockett invested in a business venture with her husband that made sense to this growing frontier community. She and David built a crude industrial complex on the banks of Shoals Creek whose manufactured products were some of the key staples to surviving in the backwoods: gunpowder, flour, and corn liquor (whisky). Surviving artifacts indicate that the gristmill was an “undershot” design — the water turning the wheel by running under it — and that the structure was located on the Park side of Shoals Creek at the rapids.
The sculpted millstone (three have been found) would crush the grain and ground it down into fine particles before being sifted through a screen. Gunpowder factories were quite dangerous and required a careful process of mixing charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter under proper temperature and humidity. The distillery required patience and disciplined management, so that the fermentation process could be achieved. Undoubtedly, all three operations, demanded intensive labor and proper management to succeed. Most experts agree that it was Elizabeth Crockett who mostly ran the operations while David tended to politics and hunting.
Importance and Influence in American History
Historian Richard B. Hauck, is one of many scholars who eloquently reminds us that, “the biography of Crockett is not the history of an institution builder, conqueror, king, or president, instead, this is a story of a common man who fought with uncommon style. In his role as a lone dissenter taking large personal risks, Crockett displayed the qualities Americans identify as those values, which distinguish the frontier individualist. These values are the seeds of his legend, and it is Crockett’s legend which is the epic that engaged his audience.”
Military Career in Lawrence County
Most historians marvel how opportunity often found David Crockett for most of his political stations in life, rather than he seeking them. Crockett completed his military career with General Andrew Jackson’s army in the Creek War as a fourth Sergeant, and in 1816 he was elected as a Lieutenant in Franklin County’s 32nd Militia regiment. In 1818, nominations for the important offices of commanding the 57th Regiment of Militia were about to be held in Lawrence County and a prominent farmer named Matthews (who was also the militia captain) invited David to run for the second highest position of major while he would run for the commandant’s rank of colonel. After Crockett finally accepted the offer he discovered that the whole thing was a ruse — that it was Matthew’s own son who was running as Crockett’s opponent. Immediately, the race for colonel became very interesting and unpredictable as Crockett decided to take on the senior Matthews himself and not bother with the son.
In straightforward fashion, David decided to inform the electorate of the ploy: “he then made a speech, and informed the people that I was his opponent. I mounted up for a speech too. I told the people that cause of my opposing him, remarking that as I had the whole family to run against any way, I was determined to levy on the head of the mess. When the time for the election came, his son was opposed by another man for major and he and daddy were both badly beaten.”
The duties of the Colonel of any militia regiment (according to state militia laws) was to make sure the battalion was properly drilled, equipped, and organized in the unlikely case it was called into action.
Although Colonel Crockett was responsible for maintaining the regiment and keeping its records, we have very little idea how this business was actually conducted. Just the same, the illustrious Colonel from the “cane” would proudly carry his militia title throughout his remaining years.
Location. 35° 16.049′ N, 87° 21.72′ W. Marker is in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, in Lawrence County. Marker is on David Crocket State Park Road. Touch for map. Marker is located on outside wall of museum at the mill. Marker is in this post office area: Lawrenceburg TN 38464, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Red-Tailed Hawk (here, next to this marker); Welcome to David Crockett State Park (here, next to this marker); 1786-1836 David Crockett (here, next to this marker); A Summary of the Life of Davy Crockett: (here, next to this marker); Shoal Creek Mill Stone (approx. 0.3 miles away); Retracing the Trail of Tears (approx. 1.4 miles away); They Passed This Way (approx. 1.4 miles away); Pioneers in Textiles (approx. 1.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lawrenceburg.
Categories. • Notable Persons •
Credits. This page was last revised on February 23, 2018. This page originally submitted on August 25, 2017, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. This page has been viewed 103 times since then and 38 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on August 25, 2017, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Usa. 2. submitted on February 23, 2018, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.