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Discovering the 'King of the Wild Frontier'

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David Vaughn

Sitting around the dinner table, most people have heard family lore about how they are descended from either someone special, be it royalty, a famous patriot or an infamous character.

For David Vaughn, that person was Davy Crockett, the “King of the Wild Frontier.”

“I was so excited to think I was kin to Davy,” said Vaughn, who remembers his grandmother telling him stories about being descended from the Crocketts.

Davy Crockett was a renowned Tennessee politician and frontiersman who died at the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. Crockett is known for his exploration of the wilderness and stints in both the Tennessee General Assembly and U.S. Houses of Representatives.

His legend was reborn and grew after television show – with Davy clad in his trademark buckskins and coonskin cap – premiered in the mid-1950s. The show followed Crockett’s adventures from the Creek Indian Wars to the Alamo.

Having grown up hearing about Crockett’s exploits, Vaughn was curious about his connections the legendary folk hero. And when he heard the Public Broadcasting Service was producing a new show, called “Genealogy Roadshow,” he jumped at a chance to test the family lore.

“They wanted you to submit an application for the show if you wanted to participate. Well, I sent my question and what info I had about Davy Crockett and my Crockett line,” Vaughn said.

A few months later, Vaughn learned he made the cut for the Nashville edition of the show.

“I was so excited that finally I may get proof if I am related to the famous frontiersman,” he said.

Vaughn, who has been tracing his family roots for the past five years, already found out he is related to American patriot William Kelton and restored the family’s historic cemetery, located on Bradyville Pike in Murfreesboro.

“It is great that I have so much family history from Rutherford County, starting as early as 1801,” he said about being descended from Kelton.

His research also uncovered a connection to another Revolutionary War veteran Anthony Crockett, who fought for the 7th Virginia Regiment in the Continental Army, explained Vaughn, who was born in Rutherford County but moved to Gallatin when he was young.

The Crockett clan came to Rutherford County around 1816 when Anthony’s sons – Granville, Overton Washington and Fontaine Posey – settled here and married local women.

“My fourth great-grandfather Granville Smith Crockett married Sarah Sims, and they settled and built a home in Barfield and raised their family,” Vaughn explained. As an aside, Sarah Sims’ mother, Jane, was a first cousin to Meriwether Lewis of the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Vaughn’s fourth great-grandfather made quite a name in Rutherford County.

Granville was captain of the Murfreesboro Volunteers Militia, Rutherford County sheriff, a member of the state House of Representatives and was elected to be the ambassador to Spain before his death in 1846.

The amateur genealogist took all this information and more to the PBS show to see if his Barfield Crocketts are related to the famous Crockett.

That information was given to genealogist Josh Taylor, whose passion for history also was learned from his grandmother. He turned that after-school hobby into an after-college job with Find My Past, which contracted with the PBS show.

After getting Vaughn’s research, Taylor waded through historic documents and previous research to verify the claim.

“It’s always difficult when you’re doing someone who has heard they are related to someone and trying to prove that,” Taylor said. “You search through a lot to find the one grain of truth.”

And Taylor searched through marriage and death records and most land deeds to uncover the truth.

“I am so excited that my family and friends get to hear what genealogist Josh Taylor has discovered in his research of my Crockett question,” he said.

Vaughn’s friends and family, as well as the rest of the nation, will find out at 8 p.m. Monday when “Genealogy Roadshow” airs on Nashville Public Television.

The episode, which was taped at Nashville’s Belmont Mansion in June, explores Vaughn’s family history along with other Middle Tennessee residents who may be related to the famed Hatfield clan and a former president. It also includes a story about an unknown father who becomes a reunion for two long-lost cousins. Other episodes will focus on Austin, San Francisco and Detroit.

“I love doing (this) to keep teaching our younger generation about our Tennessee history and to help it be remembered,” Vaughn said.

When he does Sons of the American Revolution events, Vaughn encourages children to ask their parents if any relatives fought in the War for Independence.

That way, they can hear their own family lore at the dinner table.

Tagged under  Ancestry, David Vaughn, Davy Crockett, Family, History, PBS, Tennessee

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