Did Davey Crocket actually wear a coon skin cap and did they have any practical value?

fess Parker made it famous, but still, you meet up on the wide open plains after hundreds of mile and a few years. wouldn’t you be better off with a Grizzly, Wolf, or Eagle as your headgear?

Well, to get a bear cap, you have to kill a bear… raccoons don’t put up anywhere near as much of a fight.

And, I’d imagine for practicality’s sake, they’d be pretty warm.

Yes he wore one.

From wiki:

Coonskin caps were worn by Native Americans when Europeans arrived. I suppose you might not want to cut up a bear skin to get hat size pieces. I’m guessing skunkskin caps were less popular.

Which the song says he did when 3 years old - shoulda kept him in bearskin hats for a good while.

The version in my neighbourhood was:

“Daniels Boone was a man,
Yes, a BIIIG man, ♪
But the bear was much bigger,
So he run like * ***** up a tree…” ♫
Times were different then, but kids were just as rude.

Certianly, you must understand that Davey Crocket and Daniel Boone were separated by almost a century. Did the coonskin cap persist for that long? If they’re so great, I might buy one.

“Daniel Boone was a goon, a biiiig goon,” was the way we learned it (the rest was mostly the same).

But, wrong song, and wrong guy.

“Davey, Davey Crocket, king of the wild frontier”, and that’s all I remember.


Daniel Boone 1734-1820
Davy Crockett 1786-1836

Looks like their lives overlapped by 34 years.

Sorry if it disappoints but no, Crockett was not recorded as wearing a coon skin cap.

Yes, a fur cap is indeed practical in the winter time and Crockett was known to go out in terrible Winter weather. He was indeed a successful hunter and an expert shot with a rifle. He particularly liked hunting bears.

And since you seem to be looking for historical accuracy, at no time was he ever called Davey Crockett. His name was David Crockett.

The cap and the name Davey were inventions of Disney.

Born on a Mountain top in Tennassee
Prettiest state in the land of the free
Raised in the woods so he knew every tree
Killed him a bar when he was only three

Davy, Davt Crockett, King of the wild frontier.
I used to sing it to my son when he was a baby.

This may seem satisfying and iconoclastic, but a look at Google N-gram turns up plenty of references to “Davy Crockett” going back to his own time, long predating Disney. In fact, Crockett seems to have used the name on his autobiography.
As noted above, there are contemporary references to his wearing a coonskin cap (one listing i Wikipedia). Whether it had that Disneyesque tail down the back, I don’t know.

I enjoyed the portrait of Crockett we saw in the The Alamo (2004-*-not *John Wayne’s version). He certainly came from the backwoods & occasionally played up that image (on the campaign trail) but generally dressed like a civilized man–and generally preferred “David.” (In the movie, we saw Crockett meeting Houston at a DC theater–where a fur-hatted actor played a caricature “Crockett” for laughs.)

The portrait (done from life) reproduced here shows him in buckskins–waving a slouch hat. Not to say he *never *owned a fur cap…

This picture from Ms Burke’s link has him called Davy Crockett and wearing what appears to be a dead cat on his head. It is from 1837, which is just a couple years after his death. So if the origins of the coonskin cap are myth they happened early.

That’s the cover of Davy Crockett’s Almanack–there’s evena websiteby that name, devoted to Legends of the Past.

The New York Historical Society has more details on the publication.

Yes, the legend started early.

Davey was very well known. At the Alamo Santa Ana knew who he was, referred to him as a ‘naturalist’. He replaced Daniel Boone as the American frontiersman of note, was even credited as being related to Boone, but IIRC there’s no actual connection.

And don’t forget that he was also a politician. Politicians often wear different hats for political purposes and the coonskin cap may have been used for the purpose of making him more folksy. Much like Ben Franklin wearing the beaver hat in Paris because the European elite thought that’s what Americans wore.

More likely, Franklin just liked beaver.

But that had little to do with his sartorial decisions.


Good book on Davy’s life and his place in popular culture: Born on a Mountaintop: On the Road with Davy Crockett and the Ghosts of the Wild Frontier