Tenn. officials want Davy Crockett document

AP News
Posted: Jan 05, 2010 6:56 PM

Officials in Tennessee want a 90-year-old Florida woman to turn over a marriage license application filed by legendary Alamo defender Davy Crockett more than two centuries ago.

But the woman's son, Vance Smith, said the document has been in the family for years.

"She said it was hers and she wasn't giving it up," he said.

Lura Hinchey, archive director for Jefferson County, Tenn., said the original marriage license application of Crockett and Margaret Elder belongs to the county because it is a permanent record. On Tuesday, Jefferson County officials filed papers in a Tampa-area court seeking its return.

The historic document is in the possession of Margaret V. Smith, whose son said she inherited it.

"I told her the original belonged to our county because it was one of our permanent records," Hinchey told The Tampa Tribune. "She said it belonged to her and she was going to keep it."

Vance Smith said Tennessee officials didn't ask for the license back until his mother appeared on the TV program "Antiques Roadshow." On the show, she told an appraiser her uncle, a Crockett fan, saved the 1805 document from being thrown out as a Tennessee courthouse was being cleaned out.

The appraiser estimated the application was worth $25,000 to $50,000.

"They knew she had it because she had loaned them a copy of it," Vance Smith said. "They found out it had some significant money value."

Crockett, a frontiersman, politician and soldier who died at The Alamo, never married Elder. Apparently, she changed her mind and he soon married another.

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Jefferson County officials dispute Smith's account of how her family came to possess the document, and county historian Robert Jarnagin said other marriage licenses from that era remain on file.

Tennessee officials want a Florida judge to enforce an order issued in November for Margaret V. Smith to return the document.

"The circumstantial evidence is a member of Mrs. Smith's family took that document," Tennessee Judge Allen Wallace said at the time. "The title is in Jefferson County, period. She's got to return it."


Information from: The Tampa Tribune, http://www.tampatrib.com