If people want to skip learning about the most pivotal moment in Texas history, they could watch what history critics say is the most accurate and historically correct movie, The Alamo, with Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton (2004). The siege of the Alamo began the Texas War for Independence, also called the Texas Revolution.

For the rest of us, uncountable accounts of the Siege at the Alamo run ubiquitously in Texas. At different points in history, the City of San Antonio, the Catholic Church, and the U.S. federal government all claimed ownership of the Alamo. No wonder! The Bexar County Appraisal District values the Alamo at $200 million.

In the not-so-distant past, every school child in Texas comprehensively learned about the Siege of the Alamo, the Texas Revolution, and the Texas War for Independence. According to the Texas State Board of Education, fourth and seventh graders spend one year learning about the Texas Revolution, Sam Houston, and Barbara Jordan.

We could not help or stop ourselves. We Googled, Edged, and DuckDuckGoed, “What does Barbara Jordan have to do with the Texas Revolution?” Not a cotton-pickin’ thang did former U.S. Representative Miss Jordan have to do with the Texas Revolution, and she never even met Sam Houston! 

History Buffs Guide to the Alamo: Credible Authors and Journalists

The Alamo’s history covers over three centuries of the history of the land called Texas today. To discover the genuine history of the Alamo, one must seek out the most credible historians, whether they write for or wrote for Texas universities, museums, magazines, newspapers, online publications, or publishing house products. 

A fair warning: Popular and revisionist history aims to con the history buff. The extreme liberal authors who wrote and published Forget the Alamo in 2021 are the wrong source from whom to take a deep-dive into Alamo history. In spite of its tendency towards fantasy, this book receives rave reviews from liberal media across the U.S. 

Author Bill Groneman

Texas Outside directs you to Bill Groneman, author of the internationally acclaimed book, Eyewitness to the Alamo, and his author picks for the history of the Alamo. We believe he is an educated historian who strives for authenticity. 

Bill attended Manhattan College, where he received a BA in History in 1974. He went onto lead a stunning career with the New York City Fire Department from 1977 to 2002, while he also created a vast repertoire of historical works, when he retired to continue writing. 

Mr. Groneman has written hundreds of Texas History articles, is a highly sought after public speaker, technical advisor/historical consultant for the Lorimar Roll Call at the Alamo production and other documentaries, and contributor to books on the Alamo by other acclaimed authors. 

He wrote five Alamo-related books and is a member of the Western Writers of America. Mr. Groneman reported on his well-known account of the Alamo, 

Eyewitness to the Alamo contains over one hundred descriptions by people who witnessed or claimed to have witnessed the Alamo battle. These accounts are the basis for all of the histories, traditions, myths, and legends of this famous battle. Many are conflicting, some are highly suspect as to authenticity, but all are intriguing. I have added explanations as to the origins of these accounts, and to their reliability, leaving the final decision to the reader.”

Bill Groneman’s Picks for Books for Alamo History Buffs

  • Remember the Alamo! by Robert Penn Warren
  • The Alamo by John M. Myers
  • Time to Stand by Walter Lord
  • Alamo Traces: New Evidence and New Conclusions by Thomas Ricks Lindley
  • Line of Glory by Thomas D. Clagett

Guide to History Inside the Alamo’s Long Barrack Museum and the Alamo

The Long Barrack Museum is the Alamo’s oldest building and began as a convento housing missionaries, followed by military outposts for five nations, and it served as the first hospital in Texas. The Mexican, Texian, American, Confederate, and U.S. armies occupied the Alamo as a military garrison. 

After the U.S. Army abandoned the Alamo in 1876, the mission property was split and sold into sections, and then abandoned again, when it fell into ruins. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas, led by Adina Emilia De Zavala and Clara Driscoll, planned and raised funds for the Alamo’s preservation in the early 1900s. The Alamo is still under renovation.

Who operates the Alamo?

Texas General Land Office operates the Alamo. It became a UNESCO site in 2015. The Alamo is one of the most visited attractions in Texas with over 1.6 million visitors a year. The Alamo’s courtyards and gardens are used as event spaces, hosting events throughout the year typically open to the public.

The Long Barrack Museum features exhibits on the Alamo, which include the Spanish colonial period, the mission system, and the Battle of the Alamo. Visitors can explore artifacts, interactive displays, and multimedia presentations.

Recent Discoveries

Recently, historically speaking, during the week of August 12, 2019, an archaeology team associated with the Alamo’s preservation, worked in excavations in the Long Barack. The team discovered artifacts associated with the earlier dates of mission occupation at the site. It recovered a shard of Puebla Polychrome last manufactured in 1720 at Puebla, Mexico.

The Alamo’s Living History Encampment is an interactive and immersive history lesson featuring demonstrations, reenactments, and hands-on activities. It is an educational area where visitors can walk back in time through different historical periods. The periods cover Colonial Spain to the Civil War.

Visitors to the Living History Encampment can witness how people dressed, cooked, fought, and lived during the Alamo’s historical eras. They have the opportunity to actually participate in its demonstrations and learn skills like blacksmithing, candle making, musket firing and more. 

Little Known Alamo Facts

The Briscoe Center for American History reports that an, “1849 daguerreotype is the earliest datable photograph taken in Texas. It shows the front of the Alamo chapel. It is the only known photograph of the Alamo taken before the 1850 reconstruction that added the distinctive curved gable to the top of the church facade.”

Established in 1718 as Mission San Antonio de Valero, the former mission has existed under five flags of independent nations and served as a garrison for five nation’s armies. 

Mexico’s Viceroy Fray Antonio de Olivares authorized the establishment of the Alamo in 1716 and originally referred to it as San Antonio de Padua de los Robles, which means means St. Anthony of Padua of the Oaks in English. Later, the Alamo’s name was changed to Misión San Antonio de Valero, which means Saint Anthony of Valero Mission.

The Alamo Shrine, aka the Alamo Church, most often portrays familiar face of the Alamo in pictures. Along with the mission’s Long Barracks, it is one of the two original buildings standing. But, the mission never completed, and the church lacked a roof in at the time of the Siege of the Alamo in 1836. 

The Spanish word “Alamo” translates to English as poplar, as in the poplar tree. In Texas, we call poplars, cottonwood trees.

Phil Collins and the Alamo

Plans for a Phil Collins museum are in motion at the Alamo. As one of music’s most iconic and celebrated figures, Phil Collins visited the Alamo for the first time in 1973, while on tour with Genesis. Phil waxed raptured with the Alamo’s history. In 2014, Phil Collins donated a vast collection of Alamo artifacts to the Texas General Land Office.

The first recorded hospital in Spanish Texas was established in the Long Barrack in 1805 to render aid to Spanish soldiers fighting on the frontier during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815).  Though the Napoleonic Wars commenced in the European theater, they expanded to the French and Spanish interests in today’s Texas and Louisiana by 1805 and continued on into the U.S. War of 1812. 

The Long Barrack Museum displays a lock of Davy Crockett’s hair encased in a glass locket.

Confederate forces conducted operations at the Alamo during the Civil War.

After the U.S. Army abandoned the Alamo, it became a warehouse and hog carcasses cured in the cool, unlit adobe Alamo Church. A French merchant ran a general store inside the Long Barrack at that time.

Inside the Alamo Church Sacristy, etchings that date back to circa 1730–1750 are depicted on one of its walls. 

When the U.S. Army reinforced the Alamo’s walls in the 1870s, they used dirt outside of a garbage dump for the patch up job. Visitors can see broken glass from bottles and handles from beer mugs jutting out of the Alamo’s walls intermittently.

The Texas General Land Office (GLO) governs the Alamo. Thealamo.org reports, “The GLO contracts with Alamo Trust, Inc. to care for the Alamo grounds and historic structures, develop educational programs for visitors, and tell the story of the Battle and its role in Texas history.”

The Alamo’s private police force is called the Alamo Rangers. A former security chief of the Alamo Rangers reported he saw ghosts at Texas beloved shrine. Legends and stories abound about spirits of mission friars, American Indians, Mexican soldiers, and Alamo defenders haunting the entire Alamo area. An Alamo Ranger tackled and arrested one of our next Alamo subjects, Daniel Athens.

Whatever You Do At the Alamo, Do NOT Do This!

Ozzy Osbourne and his manager, Sharon Arden (now his wife), left the Bexar County Adult Detention Center on Feb. 19, 1982, after he was arrested for urinating on the Alamo Cenotaph. The jail reported that Ozzy was a bit juiced up at the time of his infraction.

The Alamo Cenotaph is a memorial located near the entrance to the Alamo. The Cenotaph commemorates the men and women who defended the Alamo, which represented Texas as an Independent Nation State, instead of surrendering, despite overwhelming odds. They all died in the Siege. 

On February 19, 1982, Ozzy Osbourne bonded out of the Bexar County Jail for a measly $40 and went on to perform at his sold out concert that evening at the Hemisfair Arena—where he boasted about insulting the Alamo. 

For that soliloquy, Texas banned Ozzy from performing at any city-owned facilities in Texas for 10 years. It was assumed that Ozzy wanted access to Texas in 1992, when he publically apologized and gifted $10,000 to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. 

Bexar County (San Antonio) District Attorney Susan Reed issued a press release titled “Don’t Whizz on the Alamo” after the following incident. In 2015, when Reed was DA, an El Paso resident, Daniel Athens, was ordered to spend 18 months in a state jail facility for urinating on the Alamo.

Oh my! How Texas misdemeanor fines have risen since 1982. State District Judge Ray Olivarri also ordered Athens to pay $4,000 in restitution to repair the damage his urine caused to the façade of the Texas shrine. The Alamo is constructed of limestone. Urine is highly corrosive to limestone. The Cenotaph that Ozzy whizzed on is granite and marble. 

* Daniel Athens went on to be arrested for the murder of of Hector Jimenez, 56, on December 20, 2015, in El Paso, and for kidnapping, beating, and threatening to kill his girlfriend the same day. A jury convicted and sentenced Athens to 20 years, but it is not clear what on what charges. 

Do Texas Public School Students Know the Alamo in 2024?

In 2022, a proposal before the State Board of Education (SBOE) would have required students to study Texas history even deeper and dig up Texas bones as far back as the 1400s. Legislative opponents reported the recommended changes of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), “downplayed Texan and American exceptionalism and didn’t present opposing views on the gay rights movement.”

That was a 2021-2022 proposal for the 2024-2025 TEKS changes to the grade 7 history and social studies curriculums. The SBOE proposal aligned with Senate Bill (SB) 3, 87th Texas Legislature, which passed on September 17, 2021 and became effective on December 2, 2021. What TEKS came up with for 2024-2025 is acceptable, if taught:

“History: identify the major eras in Texas history, describe their defining characteristics, and explain the purpose of dividing the past into eras, including Natural Texas and its People; Age of Contact; Spanish Colonial; Mexican National; Revolution and Republic; Early Statehood; Texas in the Civil War and Reconstruction; Cotton, Cattle, and Railroads; Age of Oil; Texas in the Great Depression and World War II; Civil Rights; and Contemporary Texas; and [dates of significance]…

“…identify the individuals, issues, and events related to Mexico becoming an independent nation and its impact on Texas, including Father Miguel Hidalgo, Texas involvement in the fight for independence, José Gutiérrez de Lara, the Battle of Medina, the Mexican federal Constitution of 1824, the merger of Texas and Coahuila as a state, the State Colonization Law of 1825, and slavery;

“History. The student understands how individuals, events, and issues related to the Texas Revolution shaped the history of Texas. The student is expected to: 

“…describe the chain of events that led to the Texas Revolution, including the Fredonian Rebellion, the Mier y Terán Report, the Law of April 6, 1830, the Turtle Bayou Resolutions, and the arrest of Stephen F. Austin; and explain the roles played by significant individuals during the Texas Revolution, including George Childress, Lorenzo de Zavala, James Fannin, Sam Houston, Antonio López de Santa Anna, Juan N. Seguín, and William B. Travis; and explain the issues surrounding significant events of the Texas Revolution, including the Battle of Gonzales; the siege of the Alamo, William B. Travis’s letter “To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World,” and the heroism of the diverse defenders who gave their lives there; the Constitutional Convention of 1836; Fannin’s surrender at Goliad; and the Battle of San Jacinto.”

Kendall Davis
Author: Kendall Davis

Author: Kendall Davis Company: Lumini Services Kendall currently lives on the shores of Lake Texoma in Texas. She traveled across two-thirds of the U.S. for many years camping at lakes, rivers, and three oceans before motels and hotels if at all possible, and she continuously saw God's presence in nature. Writing for Lakehub allows Kendall to share her experience with God's creations. https://kdavis1836.wixsite.com/luminiwrites

Join the Texas Outside newsletter