Mrs. Mary (Polly) Crockett: A Legend in Her Own Right

Many stories have been written and Hollywood movies made about the life of David Crockett, but very little has been recorded about his first wife Mary Finley of Jefferson County, Tennessee.  It often said that behind every successful man is an enterprising woman and the Crockett family was no exception.

Mary was born on January 4, 1788.  She was the fourth of seven children and the first of two daughters born to William and Jean Kennedy Finley.  Mary's father nicknamed her Polly.  She was born in what is now East Tennessee.  The year 1788 was a great year to be born in America.  It was the year the Constitution was ratified and George Washington was elected our first President.  She was also born in the proposed State of Franklin, which of course did not succeed in actually becoming a state.  In many respects Polly Finley was born the year thirteen independent states became the United States of America.

Polly's early childhood was very typical of the frontier family life.  She was raised on a homestead in a log cabin.  Families in the area lived far apart but there were still primitive schools and churches.  Most family get-togethers were for church activities, barn building, and for harvesting crops.  Harvest time also included evening parties and afforded the young folks the opportunity to meet one another.  It was at one of these harvest gatherings that Polly met David Crockett, a resident of nearby Greene County.  It was love at first sight for Polly and she married David one year later on August 12, 1806 in her parents' home.  She was 18 years old.

The Crocketts lived in East Tennessee for several years, then moved to Southern Middle Tennessee; first in the present day Moore County and then to Franklin County.  It was while they lived in Southern Tennessee that the Creek Indian War and the War of 1812 started.  David volunteered for the conflicts, leaving Polly at home to raise two children with another on the way.  Polly lived all her life in Tennessee.  She died in the early spring of 1815 in Franklin County shortly after her third child was born.  She was 27 years old.

Polly Crockett embodied the frontier woman's spirit.  When her husband was away fighting for his country, Polly was left at home on the wilderness with the awesome tasks of safeguarding their children, tending livestock, farming and foraging for food, and keeping the home fires burning.  Franklin County, Tennessee recognizes the spirit of this frontier lady as Polly Crockett is a truly legend in her own right.


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