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How much did it cost to save the Alamo?

The Alamo at Night

One of the cool features of Bexar County’s digital archive is that you can do crazy keyword searches for people like “David Crockett” and other historic figures in San Antonio to discover deeds and other public records filed in their name. Some of these records document important events in the city’s history.

Out of curiosity, I ran a search for “Daughters of the Republic of Texas” and sorted the results by date to look for deeds filed in 1905, when the nonprofit group became the custodians of the Alamo.

I found this deed describing how the Daughters, with the financial help of Texas lawmakers and wealthy benefactor Clara Driscoll, had paid $75,000 to the merchants who owned the Long Barrack on the Alamo grounds. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $1.8 million in today’s dollars.

The deed says the Daughters were incorporated for “the patriotic purpose of acquiring historic ground and perpetuating the memory and spirit of the men and women who achieved and maintained the independence of Texas and cherishing and preserving the unity of Texas.” The deed describes how the Daughters released the property to the state of Texas. The state owns the Alamo; the Daughters take care of it.

If you’re a history buff, you could enjoy hours of nerdy fun finding these kinds of primary documents.

Notice how this record is just a piece of the story. Clara Driscoll helped save the Alamo’s Long Barrack by opening her pocketbook, so her name is in the deed. But there’s no mention of Adina De Zavala, who persuaded Driscoll to join the cause of preserving the Alamo, and later famously clashed with Driscoll about what to do with it.

For tips about looking up historical records on the county’s Web site, there’s a FAQ page that offers search tips, and I blogged here about some pointers.