Davy Crockett sparks gospel interest: Reporter converted after investigating frontiersman's kin

History looms large in Smiths Falls. They still operate by hand the massive gates that control the Rideau Canal's great stone locks in the middle of town. The British dug that canal and built those locks from 1826 to 1832 to move boats safely to Upper Canada in case the Americans seized the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. It cost a thousand lives and was never needed.

Folks in Smith Falls are proud of the way the locks operated all the years since. They think a lot about those early days and about the Americans who made history back then. So perhaps it's not surprising that a coonskin-hatted American named Davy Crockett had a part in bringing one of Smith Falls' most recent converts into the Church. But as it turned out, Davy had lots of help.Sister Noel Crockett had heard the question countless times before. Newly arrived with her missionary companion in Smiths Falls, she heard it again, this time from her new landlady: "Are you related to Davy Crockett?"

When she admitted that, yes, she was, the landlady called the Smith Falls Record News with what she thought was an interesting item.

Editor Mike Hayes was skeptical. But reporter Bruce Peever didn't seem too busy. Go check it out, Hayes told him.

Sister Crockett was carrying no proof of relationship, and it would take a couple of weeks to get documents from her home in San Jose, Calif. But she and her companion, Sister Sharon Eaton, went to the Church's local family history center and got a printout of a pedigree chart going back to Davy Crockett's parents, John and Rebecca. John was a virile man - 67 when he fathered Davy and 72 when William was born in 1786. William in 1811 fathered David, who fathered George, who fathered David Franklin Crockett in 1886. David would become Sister Crockett's great-grandfather.

Reporter Peever wrote all that up, and it made a nice front-page feature in the Record News, with a picture of Sisters Crockett and Eaton.

But that was only the beginning. Let them tell the story.

Sister Crockett: "About a week later, my companion and I were having one of our usual weekly planning sessions. We felt impressed to say a prayer, asking Heavenly Father which of our converts would be ready for baptism by the end of the month. We asked for an answer that we'd recognize by the end of the day.

"No sooner had we asked this than the phone rang. I thought, `Now who is this interrupting our prayer?' But Sister Eaton ran to the phone, recognizing the call as an immediate answer.

"It was Bruce calling from the Record News. He had some extra copies of the Davy Crockett article and wanted to know if he could drop them off. He did, and we in turn gave him a Christmas-wrapped Book of Mormon."

Bruce Peever: "Being a voracious reader, I ripped the wrapping off with delight. I have to admit severe disappointment when I found it was a religious publication. However, I started to read it and soon had a problem putting it down. In a matter of weeks I had read it cover to cover."

Sister Crockett: "There were other answered prayers Bruce was unaware of. For example, several of us had been praying that the Lord would prepare him to accept the Word of Wisdom. On the morning of Dec. 30 Bruce woke up and `just decided' he would quit smoking. About a week later, he lost his job. Jim MacPherson, the branch mission leader, and Elder Thompson gave him a blessing of comfort. The next day he found employment. The following week, while he was still struggling to know if baptism was what he should do, we prayed even more fervently that the Lord would send Bruce the needed assurance." On Jan. 30, 1993, two months to the day of that first interview, Bruce Peever was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church, and on Feb. 7 received the Aaronic Priesthood.

Brother Peever: "I've interviewed hundreds of people from prime ministers to paupers. My material has moved across Canadian wire services, and I've had stories published in all major Canadian dailies. But all that pales in comparison to what at first glimpse appeared to be just another routine assignment.

"When I first looked at religion, I pictured attending church as a means of achieving happiness. I can testify I have made the right decision in allowing the Lord into my life."

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