Wednesday, July 27, 2011
The Tennessee Court of Appeals has affirmed an order directing the person who had possession of Davy Crockett's original 1805 certificate of marriage to return it to Jefferson County. The license had been removed from the county courthouse in the 1930s:
Questioning the historical prominence of David Crockett around the time the license was taken, Mrs. Smith argues in her brief that Crockett was “largely forgotten” by the late 19th century but his legend was reborn when Walt Disney made a 1950s television series about the Tennessean. Assuming arguendo that Mrs. Smith is correct, she has stated in the record that her uncle, Harry Vance, was an “admirer of David Crockett” and a “David Crockett enthusiast” and that her father, Paul Vance, had an interest in David Crockett. Based on her own admission, the two individuals primarily responsible for removing the subject marriage license from the Jefferson County courthouse in the 1930s or 1940s were certainly aware of David Crockett and most likely recognized his historical significance. Accordingly, we reject this issue as lacking merit.
The license (the marriage never took place) apparently had been removed by the Mrs. Smith's uncle (a county bigwig) and given to her father. The court here found the circumstances of the removal lost to history but that the removal was an unlawful conversion of county property. The court noted that the county had kept it for 130 years or so.
The existence of the document came to light when Ms. Smith contacted the county historical society in the mid to late 1990s. Eventually, a demand was made and Mrs. Smith refused to return it. This litigation followed.
The court found no error in the failure to admit Mrs. Smith's interview on Antiques Roadshow. The court also affirrmed contempt findings against her.
The court found the trial court could take judicial notice that Crockett had been a congressman from that district and had died at the Alamo.
Mrs. Smith returned the license in February 2010.
The trial court's view of the proffered explanation of the removal: "[T]hat dog just won't hunt." (Mike Frisch)