The Alamo: the rest of the story

Trip Start Oct 15, 2006
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Trip End Jan 01, 2007


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Flag of United States  , Texas
Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Alamo

Most of us know the John Wayne story of The Alamo, where Texas patriots were "massacred" by Santa Anna's troops. But as Paul Harvey say, this is the rest of the story.

The Spanish government wanted to make their presence felt in their New World colony, because France was encroaching upon their territory. The government gave permission to start a town, a.k.a. mission, to be known as San Antonio de Valero along the San Antonio River. The inhabitants would be the indigenous people living nearby. The mission thrived from 1718-1793, when the Spanish government parceled the land to the converted Indians, now productive Spanish citizens. More about the missions and mission life will follow.

The abandoned mission became a presidia, i.e. a Spanish fortress, and was staffed by La Segunda Compania Volante de San Carlos de Parras (the Second Flying Company of San Carlos of Parras). The men and their families actually came from a small town called San Jose y Santiago del Alamo. Their name finally shortened to The Alamo Company.

The first attempt to save The Alamo, a name now given to the old mission, was in 1825. A political chief wanted to sell the bricks and stone to raise money for the government. The order was granted by the legislative branch. But before it could be carried out,the new commandant of the Eastern Provinces, Anastacio Bustamante, rescinded the orders, because he wanted the mission to be the barracks of The Alamo Company, because of the kindness which the people showed him in the past.

After the famous 1836 battle, the ruins were subsequently used as a hospital, a garrison for the Republic of Texas, the U.S. Army, and finally the CSA (Confederate States of America). Samuel Maverick purchased much of the land around the Alamo and moved his family there. He wanted to preserve the grounds where his friends had died. Even so the town of San Antonio continued to grow and threaten the existence of these old structures.Numerous attempts were made by various developers to replace the buildings. In 1893 one developer even wanted to build a hotel on the property

This aroused the dander of Adina DeZavala. She and others attempted to block this land grab and formed the DeZavala Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas; an the attempt to preserve the mission heritage of San Antonio. Remember, at this time women had little and/or no rights at all. DeZavala approached Clara Driscoll, a wealthy young woman, for a down payment to purchase the property for $75,000. Over four years the group was able to acquire only $10,000 in private donations. Ms Driscoll anted in the additional $65,000. With deeds, plans, proposals, and plenty of chutzpah, they approached the governor and were rewarded by not only by having Clara Driscoll reimbursed, but also having the property become the possession of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. If you want to get something done, send a woman-especially an incensed woman.

Disputes about the land usage and development never ended. The second floor of the convento was torn down and the church's facade was completed with the famed bell ornamentation, which had been added about 1850. The original design had called for another story and twin towers, like Concepion.

Today the Mission Church of San Antonio de Velero is now known as the Alamo Museum, dedicated to the memory of the "patriot" men who fought valiantly against the lawful Mexican government,so that the Southern States might extend slavery further West. Like many legends the victors write the stories.

The real heroes of The Alamo are little known people of history: Bustamante, deZavala, and Driscoll. They fought against the greed of destroying the building for profit. The first of the missions and the settlement of the Southwest remains a symbol, along with the other four missions. Now you know the rest of the story.
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