Margaret V. Smith inherited the 1805 marriage license decades ago, after her uncle claimed to have found it outside a Tennessee courthouse. The prospective groom? Davy Crockett. Now, Jefferson County, Tenn., officials say they want the valuable document back. "Well, they are not going to get it," said Smith.
Smith claims her uncle, Henry Vance, found Crockett's marriage license on the lawn of the courthouse when officials were cleaning house. "They were just pitching it out into the yard, and my uncle happened to see this David Crockett thing, and he picked it up because he was interested in the adventures of David Crockett," she said.
Jefferson County officials, including the judge and county historian Robert Jarnagin, don't buy that explanation. Jefferson Senior Judge Allen W. Wallace said "circumstantial evidence" suggests that one of Smith's ancestors stole the document from the county's depository.
Jarnagin noted that Smith's uncle worked at the Jefferson County Courthouse during the 1930s and '40s. There's no evidence that any documents were discarded, Jarnagin said. Other marriage licenses from the era, even stud-horse licenses, remain on file. Only the Davy Crockett document is known to be missing.
In his ruling, Judge Wallace stated that the document is the property of Jefferson County, regardless of how it disappeared from the records.
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