Descendant of Davy Crockett finds family photo on UNT's Portal to Texas History

Photo of Davy Crockett discovered on UNT's Portal to Texas History
Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - 10:47

DENTON, Texas (UNT) – He is one of the most famous names in American history, Davy Crockett. Now a new piece of Crockett history has been uncovered on the University of North Texas website, The Portal to Texas History.

The “photograph of a man’s face” has been on the portal since 2008. However, the identity of the subject in the photo was a mystery until Crockett’s great-great-great-granddaughter, Carol Campbell, recently reached out to the University Of North Texas. She found the picture online and wanted to reveal that the man in the photo was her famous relative. 

“I stumbled across the photo when I was doing genealogy research,” said Campbell. “I recognized the picture and thought, ‘wow I have that picture in my family collection. That’s David Crockett!’”

Campbell says it is actually a picture of a portrait. She was told that her great-great-grandfather, Robert Crockett, had the painting of his late father commissioned and then had photographs taken so all of his children could have a copy. Campbell says those photos were thought to only be part of her family’s personal collection, until she found them online. 

“I found that picture, as well as several other family photos and letters,” said Campbell. “I love being able to search online and learn about my family. There are other good websites out there, but you have to pay for them. The Portal to Texas History is free and it is a great site.” 

The portal is a search engine website filled with thousands of pieces of history archived by The University of North Texas Libraries. The archivists behind the site are constantly working to obtain various forms of history, including newspapers, pamphlets, pictures, magazines and videos. The goal is to have a site where anyone can access state history and also to allow that history to live online forever. One of the organizations that has its archived material uploaded onto The Portal to Texas History is Log Cabin Village, a living history museum in Fort Worth. This photo of what is now believed to be Davy Crockett was part of a collection obtained by the museum decades ago, but information was limited.

“This is extraordinarily exciting,” Rena Lawrence, assistant historic site coordinator for Log Cabin Village. “To find out that we have something quite rare in our possession is incredible, but more importantly, it’s on the portal. That is really our goal with collections we receive. We want to get previously undiscovered history out to the public and the portal helps us do that.”

While the picture is available for everyone to see on The Portal to Texas History, the original copy, owned by the museum, is now locked away inside a safe.

“I don’t think too much is discovered anymore these days,” said Campbell. “I’ve now shared the portal with my other family members so they can see what all is on there, too.” 

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