Travis' hand to the State Archivesby
Is there a Graphologist
in the House?
page of the Travis Letter |
Image courtesy Texas State Library & Archives
dispatch from what we now call the Alamo
was initially carried by Captain Albert Martin of Gonzales.
En route to Gonzales with the
letter, Martin heard the battle underway and felt compelled to add his own message
to the dispatch. When he arrived in Gonzales,
Martin passed the dispatch to Lancelot Smither, who later added his own note -
both of which can be read on the copies displayed on the TSL website. |
The TSL website states: "There is evidence that Smither extracted the essence
of the letter and deposited this copy with Judge Andrew Ponton before he departed
Gonzales. Ponton prepared
other copies and forwarded these to Nacogdoches
and other population centers in the province."
Smither carried the
letter on to San
Felipe. Slowed by a bitter storm, it took him 40 hours to cover approximately
90 miles. "A reasonably accurate printing" of Travis' message was made at San
Felipe. Two hundred copies were initially printed and eventually it went into
five printings - but none were printed verbatim. Subsequent printings over the
years seem to have been drawn from what had been printed in San
Felipe. It is believed that the original document was given to the Travis
family after the war.
Tombstone of William Travis' daughter Susan Grissett in Chappell
Cemetery. (It has since been mended.)|
Photo circa 1960. Courtesy
Texas State Library & Archives Commission
letter went from Travis' daughter, Susan Isabella Travis (who was only four years
old when her father died) to her daughter and then on down until it reached a
great grandson who, in the 1890s, found himself "financially embarrassed."
The grandson offered to sell the letter to the State in 1893 for $250. History
wasn't a priority at the time and that sum was considered a heavy expenditure.
The grandson demonstrated his patriotism by offering to sell it to the state below
any private bids - to insure preservation of the document. It was eventually acquired
for $85.00 and the Texas State Library and Historical Commission (as it was then
called) became custodians of the letter on March 19, 1909. |
| || |
-State Archive's Travis Letter Page 2
R - Travis Letter showing the writing
of Martin and Smither
Images courtesy Texas State Library & Archives
"Bonham" Alamo Letter|
Click on photo for larger image
courtesy David London and Patricia A. Roulette
Letter from the Alamo
(The unpublished letter - never seen by the public - that sat for years in the
bedroom of "Aunt Cora" - so that it wouldn't embarrass the State of
Shared with the readers of Texas Escapes by David London, Bonham, Texas,
July 30, 2005 )
It is entirely possible that this new letter from Bonham
is one of the copies made by Judge Ponton in Gonzales.
Nevertheless, even as a copy, it remains an important artifact of the Texas Revolution.
However, the question about the spelling of Travis' middle name is still a mystery.
It would seem that there would be enough samples of Judge Ponton's handwriting
extant to compare his style with whoever penned the "Bonham" letter.
other remaining artifacts from the Texas Revolution|
Since the spoils of war belong to the victors, artifacts such as Bowie's
original knife - or Crockett's famous musket "Old Betsy" found themselves (at
least temporarily) in the hands of the troops that besieged the Alamo.
How many "original" Bowie knives have been passed off onto tourists in Mexico
as the real item - will never be known. "Old Betsy"on the other hand has supposedly
surfaced - but that's a story we don't currently have any information on. The
cannon that fired the first shot of the war near Gonzales disappeared for
a hundred years and was then unearthed by a flood almost exactly 100 years later.
It resides today in Gonzales
- a tiny thing considering the colossal changes it brought about. One other authentic
relic is on display daily. It's the flag that flew above the Alamo
during the seige. It hangs today behind a bulletproof glass case at Chapultepec
Castle in Mexico City - guarded 24 hours a day by armed sentries. When Texas was
having it's sesquicentennial in 1986 - Texas asked the Mexican government if the
flag might be loaned out for the festivities. The answer - accompanied with a
big smile - was the Spanish equivilent of "We don't think so." Some people
have long memories.
Jacinto - spoils included Santa
Anna's gold-buttoned embroidered vest that was worn by bridesgrooms in Fayette
County until it finally disappeared in the 1930s.The dictator's wash basin
and pitcher found their way to Bastrop County where a tiny blurb in the Bastrop
Adverstiser in the 1930s mentioned that it was thrown and smashed during what
is now known as a "domestic disturbance."
© John Troesser
August 11, 2005
Any constructive or informative
letters are invited.
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