Did Davy Crockett steal this legend?
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The story revealed interesting facets of the young man -- resourcefulness, daring, linguistic skill, confidence with white officers. According to Kenneth W. Porter, the "story of the story" is almost as interesting, since a similar tale was popularly attributed not to John Horse, but to Davy Crockett. In place of turtles, soldiers, and quarters, the Crockett story involved coonskins, voters, and liquor, and entered the stock of Crockett legends in 1836 -- after his death, at a time when many legends began to swirl around the famous woodsman. The Gopher John story had first been recorded and circulated in 1826 by a soldier at Fort Brooke -- a full ten years before the Crockett legend got started -- thought it did not reach print until the 1852 publication of McCall's letters.
There is no way to know if the Gopher John story inspired the Crockett tale, but if so, it would be a great irony of American folklore that Crockett, a hero of the Alamo who fought for the right to own slaves, received credit for a story about John Horse, a black rebel whose life was dedicated to resisting slavery.
Porter "Davy Crockett", Tucker 76.
Part 1, Early Years: l