The Alamo, that shrine to Texas’ war for independence from Mexico, has again become a battleground, this time over plans for a major project to restore and improve the plaza in San Antonio, or destroy it, depending on which side of the conflict is making the assessment.

This most recent clash includes some of the same combatants engaged in past battles of the Alamo.

One is the Texas land commissioner. This time, that’s George P. Bush, whose organization has had sole custodianship of the Alamo since about 2015, when he wrested full control of the icon from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas after considerable rhetorical and legal bloodshed.

Bush's successful campaign to bring the Alamo fully under state control was only the most recent in a struggle that has lasted far longer than the War for Texas Independence, however.

In about 1912, for example, the Daughters got an injunction forbidding the state’s superintendent of public buildings from entering the Alamo, according to a 2015 Texas Monthly article.

The state sued to remove the Alamo from the Daughters’ control. The litigation went all the way to the Texas Supreme Court, where the Daughters, a group dedicated to the preservation of Texas history, prevailed.

Between the years 1989 and 2001, former state Rep. Ron Wilson, a Houston Democrat, filed six bills seeking to transfer control of the Alamo from the Daughters to a state agency. Ultimately, Wilson departed the legislature and the Daughters remained in control.

In 2011, however, the Texas Legislature passed two bills transferring ownership of the Alamo to the land office  and tasking Jerry Patterson, land commission at the time, with negotiating a management partnership with Daughters.

Part of Patterson's reward for that work, was his addition to the Daughter's most loathed list.  

The partnership ended in 2015 when Bush cancelled the contract and seized a library containing 38,000 books, maps and other artifacts the Daughters claimed belonged to the group's members; the Daughters sued.    

Bush is now overseeing a seven-year reimagining of the shrine where 189 Texas independence fighters were killed by Mexican Gen. Santa Anna’s troops in 1836, according to The Associated Press.

“The site’s size would quadruple after excavation and restoration of historical structures, the closing of nearby streets and the building of a more than 100,000-square foot museum to house artifacts and guide visitors through the Alamo’s history,” The AP reported in October.

Opponents worry Alamo history will be sanitized and made politically correct, in part because the city of San Antonio wants to move a 1940s cenotaph, a nearby 60-foot granite monument engraved with the names of those killed during the battle. In that, they see the same political motive responsible for the moving of Confederate statues.

In a nice Texas twist, Patterson, who’s seeking a return to his old post as land commissioner, is among the loudest voices criticizing Bush’s management of the project, which puts him on the same side as his old adversaries, the Daughters.

Remember the Alamo? How could we forget. It’s been the site of battles, actual and metaphorical, for more than 180 years and there’s no peace in sight.

What might be forgotten in the political brew-up of the day, however, is what the little mission in San Antonio represents for Texas and Texans. That, too, we should remember.

In the interest of that remembering, beginning today and for the next 12 days, we’ll publish on this page items about the original battle of the Alamo, the one that started the whole shebang.

• Michael A. Smith

Editor’s note: Daily News Managing Editor Laura Elder, who is married to the author, is a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206;

(12) comments

Carlos Ponce

"The Cenotaph will always stand, but no final decision on the Cenotaph’s location has been made. The Cenotaph might be moved to where the Defenders’ bodies were burned, to honor that place which is currently unmarked.:

"What are the plans for the Cenotaph?
The City of San Antonio owns the cenotaph and plans to repair and restore the monument, as well as add the names of additional defenders who were unknown when the cenotaph was erected in 1939. Discussion is ongoing about where the cenotaph will be located once restoration work is complete. One idea is to relocate the cenotaph (which means “empty tomb”) to the location of one of the funeral pyres, which would serve to restore the 1836 battlefield footprint and to properly honor the location where the defenders’ bodies were burned. Evidence indicates that two of the funeral pyres were located near St. Joseph Church on Commerce Street, and the third was some distance east of the Alamo’s church. While the City of San Antonio has made no final decision on the cenotaph’s future location, what is certain is the monument will be repaired, and it will always stand to honor the Alamo Defenders."

Carol Dean

Didn't The Alamo essentially get "turned over" to the UN a couple of years ago? I, for one, will not support another Bush to carry on the dynasty. Look into Davey Edwards as an opportunity to vote for someone who does not have an ulterior motive other then to best represent ALL of us!

Carlos Ponce

George P. Bush calls the alleged take over "fake news".
In 2015 "The Alamo and four Spanish colonial Catholic missions in Texas are being designated U.S. World Heritage sites by the United Nations, joining other key landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Philadelphia's Independence Hall, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon national parks and Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's Virginia home, among more than 1,000 others worldwide."
It's just a designation, not a take over.
"UN Won’t Take Over Alamo, George P. Bush Assures Texas"
"To borrow a phrase from the president, there's a whole lot of fake news out there on this," Bush said last month at the Texas Federation of Republican Women’s conference in Dallas. He directed the audience to visit a new website set up by his campaign:
"There you will learn the United Nations will never touch the Alamo,” Bush said. “The Alamo will always belong to the people of Texas.”
"Officials bash rumors that Alamo, other missions will be run by U.N."

Gary Scoggin

Carlos is correct. Registering a site as a World Heritage Site is far different from ceding control to the UN.

Carol Dean

Directed to a site established by his campaign team!?! No way, Jose'!

Carlos Ponce

Carol, only one website is from his campaign, unless you think Texas Tribune, Huffington and MySanAntonio are part of his campaign also.

Carol Dean

LOL, Carlos! Knowing the Bushes, there's no telling. I for sure do NOT trust the Huffington Post!

Carlos Ponce

I don't trust Huffington either but include it for our Liberal friends.

Doyle Beard

ulterior motive, is that not a joke?

Carlos Ponce

Davey Edwards and Rick Range each poll at 6% according to UT.
Next is Jerry Patterson at 31%
George P. Bush is polling at 57%.
I don't like family dynasties but Jerry Patterson calling Trump voters "idiots" left a bad taste in Texas politics. It ranks up there with Hillary calling Trump supporters "deplorable".
Democratic candidates Miguel Suazo and Tex Morgan have little chance.

Carol Dean

That's what makes you a good man, Carlos!

Carol Dean

Carlos, I know people don't know Davey Edwards. He would be a breath of fresh air. Since he is one of the "new guys", he is still not bought and paid for. IMHO

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for Reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.