|November 30, 2023
Traverse City, Michigan—David Crockett was one of America’s first national celebrities, but few people know much about the early life of the man behind the legend. That is about to change with the release of a new book, The Early Life and Times of David Crockett in East Tennessee: A Lifelong Study, by author and fellow East Tennessean, Joe Swann. This book examines the formative years that shaped Crockett into the renowned figure he became in his own time and the legend we still know today.
Crockett carved out a name for himself from the Western frontier lands of East Tennessee to the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C. He did this not only by prowess with a rifle but through humility, integrity, humor, and a personal character of undeniable authenticity. His character was forged through hardship and self-determination as a youth in East Tennessee. Crockett grew up poor, with a down-on-his-luck Revolutionary War vet father. At age ten, Davy was indentured to servitude to a man he’d never met.
Tennessee historians and notables alike have high praise for the book. Jim Claborn, past director of Crockett Tavern Museum in Morristown, says, “After years of also studying Crockett, I’ve found that Joe’s book is the closest we will come to actually bringing Crockett to life.” Adds Michael Wallis, author of David Crockett: The Lion of the West, “If you love American history, this book is tailor-made for you. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.” And Lamar Alexander—former governor of Tennessee, former U.S senator, and past president of the University of Tennessee—declares, ”Joe Swann is an avid historian who has spent decades digging up these boyhood stories. If you want to know the rest of the story about Davy Crockett, this is the book for you.”
Indeed, Swann serves up historical facts and information on the formative period of Crockett’s life, in contrast to most Crockett books, stories, and articles, which focus on the later years of his life and death. The author hopes that “by exploring the life of the historic Crockett, his contemporaries, and the landscapes in which he walked, we might gain a better sense of why his persona and his life’s story have been so compelling to America and the world.”
Swann is proud of his very personal family connection to Crockett.
“To repay a debt, David traded a rifle to my great-great grandfather, James McCuistion,” he said. “My grandmother’s brother, Sam Gwinn, inherited the rifle, then moved to Oklahoma prior to 1916. The rifle then went to California with Sam Gwinn’s grandson. I then went to California to purchase the rifle from my cousin in 1978 and brought it back to East Tennessee. It now resides in the Museum of East Tennessee History in Knoxville.”
Swann’s fascination with Crockett began at an early age.
“When I was five years old, I met Fess Parker, the actor who played Crockett on TV,” said Swann. “This has always had a major influence on me. My interest in the Western frontier and history grew from that encounter.”
The Early Life and Times of David Crockett in East Tennessee: A Lifelong Study is published by Mission Point Press of Traverse City, Michigan. The softcover edition retails for $16.95 and is available in bookstores and online. Contact the author for events or signings at email@example.com.
About the author
Joe Swann was born in Maryville, Tennessee. Following graduation from the University of Tennessee, he became a wholesale lumber commodities broker, eventually founding Workshop Tools, which still thrives today under the ownership of Joe’s sons, Will and Ben Swann.
Throughout his career, Joe stayed involved in the community while researching the early life of David Crockett. He served on numerous boards of directors in Blount County—including the East Tennessee Historical Society—and in other high level positions including council member and mayor for the city of Maryville and president of the Blount County Historic Trust. Joe was appointed by the governor to the Tennessee Historical Commission and the Tennessee Archeology Council. He was also recognized for his community contributions by being included in the Maryville Daily Times Wall of Fame in 2004 and the Jefferson County Historical Society Hall of Fame in 1997.
About the book
The Early Life and Times of David Crockett in East Tennessee: A Lifelong Study
978-1-961302-20-4 / Softcover / $16.95 / November 2023
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Historical
HISTORY / United States / Revolutionary Period (1775–1800)
HISTORY / United States / State & Local / South (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV)