Bubbabob, this crypt, or sepulchere is currently on display in the vestibule of the San Fernando Cathedral, just to the left of the lefthand doors. Prior to that, it rested in the baptistry of the Cathedral. (I saw it there in 1973.) Why it was moved from the baptistry out into the vestibule is anyone's guess. Perhaps the number of persons seeking to pay tribute to the Alamo heroes was thought to be interrupting church services.
The below article (from the Alamo de Parras site) details the history of the ashes of the Alamo heroes.
The Men of the Alamo The remains of those who died for Texas rest in the Cathedral. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
San Antonio Express newspaper, April 21, 1889, Sunday.
With all the facts and circumstances that have been secured and collated, either by reminiscences or documentary proofs, contemporary, history is strangely silent on one important point and the present generation are ignorant as to the place in which the remains of the men who laid down their lives in the Alamo were deposited. Many have been under the impression that the Alameda, where now the post house stands, (E. Commerce Street, Rivercenter site,) was used as a temporary cemetery, but of this there was no certainly. Colonel Juan Seguin, who commanded a company of Mexicans in the battle of San Jacinto and who, after the dispersion of Santa Anna's army, was ordered with increased authority and rank to the command of San Antonio de Bexar, has settled the question in a recent letter, the translation of which is as follows:
Laredo de Tamaulipas, Mexico, March 26, 1889. General H. P. Bee, San Antonio:
In reply to your inquiries in behalf of the Alamo monument association, I authorize you to state that the dead of the Alamo were burned by order of General Santa Anna, and when I took command of that city after the battle of San Jacinto, I collected together the charred and small fractions of the bodies that were scattered around, placed them in an urn, and deposited it in a grave which I had dug inside of the cathedral of San Fernando on Main plaza of San Antonio in front of the altar, close to the railing, near the steps, where they now are.
Respectfully, JUAN N. SEGUIN.
The foregoing epistle is especially interesting and the descendants of the men of the Alamo will now, probably for the first time, have the consolation of knowing that the ashes of their heroes are resting in a consecrated place, and the time-honored, battle scarred cathedral will gain enhanced reverence and be dearer to the hearts of every Texan from the fact that under her sacred roof rest the remains of those to whose patriotism and undaunted spirit; Texas owes all the prosperity she enjoys today. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
While it's kind of hard to either prove, or disprove Seguin's claim, this little bit of information nevertheless gives food for thought:
In 1936, excavations within San Fernando Cathedral uncovered a small coffin containing human remains. Debate ensued over their identity; the Archbishop of San Antonio, Arthur J. Drossaerts, concluded that the remains were of the Alamo defenders, and ordered their ceremonial reburial in San Fernando on May 11, 1938.
Last Edit: Nov 28, 2007 15:01:55 GMT -5 by neferetus
I do not know when the sarcophogus was last opened, but it's been mentioned that some military buttons were found amongst the ashes, back in 1936. This suggested to some that the ashes therefore could not be those of the Alamo heroes. Of course, who knows what the Alamo defenders were wearing during the course of the siege. Some of Colonel Neill's earlier correspondence noted how some of his men were in rags. Could some of Neill's ragamuffins then have supplemented their wardrobes with castoffs the Mexican army may've left behind in December, 1835? Then again, what sort of buttons did the uniforms of the New Orleans Greys have?
Would all of the ashes be able to fit in their anyways? Or are they just claiming that it is the remains of SOME defenders?
Remember that Seguin returned to San Antonio in February, 1837---almost a year after the battle. Just how many remains might've yet remained at that time is anyone's guess. The elements and wild animals must've reduced the pyres considerably.
Here is a description of Juan Seguin's return (From The Seguin Family Historical Society's site:
Upon his return to the Alamo, some time in February 1837, the only remnants of habitation Seguin encountered were ashes spread out in three different piles. These remains were believed to have been those of Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, William Travis and the rest of the slain defenders of the Alamo. The honor of caring for the ashes and burying them was bestowed upon Juan. The remains were gathered and taken to the San Fernando Cathedral. Juan N. Seguin delivered, during what was probably one of the most painful moments of his life, an address in his native Castilian that more than adequately depicted the personalities of the great men who lost their lives in the Battle of the Alamo. And those words were: "These remains, which we have had the honor to carry on shoulders, are the remains of those valiant heroes who died at the Alamo. Yes, my friends, they preferred to die a thousand times than to live under the yoke of a tyrant. What a brilliant example! One worthy of inclusion in the pages of history. From her throne above, the spirit of liberty appears to look upon us, and with Tearful countenance points, saying, "Behold your brothers Travis, Bowie, Crockett as well as all the others. Their valour has earned them a place with all my heroes. Yes, fellow soldiers and fellow citizens, we are witness to the meritorious acts of those who, when faced with a reversal in fortune, during the late contest, chose to offer their lives to the ferocity of the enemy. A barbarous enemy who on foot herded them like animals to this spot, and then proceeded to reduce them to ashes. I invite all of you to join me in holding the venerable remains of our worthy companions before the eyes of the entire world to show it that Texas shall be free, and independent. Or to a man, we will die gloriously in combat, toward that effort."
So Rich Curilla did not go into detail, Hans? I will try to refer to Hansen's ALAMO READER for further information, if there is any.
Meanwhile, here is Captain Reuben M. Potter's version of the disposition of the Alamo heroes remains. It is from his 1860 pamphlet:
The stranger will naturally inquire where lie the heroes of the Alamo, and Texas can reply only by a silent blush. A few hours after the action the bodies of the slaughtered garrison were gathered by the victors, laid in three heaps, mingled with fuel and burned, though their own dead were interred. On the 25th of February, 1837, the bones and ashes of the defenders were, by order of General Houston, collected, as well as could then be done, for burial by Colonel Seguin, then in command at San Antonio. The bones were placed in a large coffin, which, together with the gathered ashes, was interred with military honors. The place of burial was a peach orchard, then outside of the Alamo village and a few hundred yards from the fort. When I was last there, in 1861, it was still a large enclosed open lot, though surrounded by the suburb which had there grown up; but the rude landmarks which had once pointed out the place of sepulture had long since disappeared. Diligent search might then have found it, but it is now densely built over, and its identity is irrecoverably lost.
San Fernando Cathedral, 12/08/2007. The San Antonio Water Department is stil working in front of it, so you have to go all the way around the building just to get in. As many of you may remember from THE ALAMO (2004), the area in front of the cathedral was once the Campo Santo. So, just what did they do with all those bodies? I hope that, with all this construction that's been going on lately, they do not find themselves in a POLTERGEIST situation.
Another possible location of the remains of the Alamo heroes is the Odd Fellow's Cemetery, located on Powder House Hill, just east of the Alamo. Back in the early Eighties, Craig Covner steered me towards the possibiity of the cemetery and even provided me with photographs of the burial site, located between the Walker and Gillespie monumets.
Here's a little bit more info on both the graves in the Odd Fellows Cemetary and Ben Milam from The Journal Of Life And Culture In San Antonio:
City Warned to Protect its Historic Cemeteries
by Frank W. Jennings
Perhaps it's human nature to ignore our most precious possessions until we learn that someone wants to take them away. And then, affronted, we passionately clasp them to us. San Antonians saw that happen in 1848, when citizens of La Grange, Texas sent a committee to San Antonio to remove the remains of Col. Benjamin Rush Milam, hero of the Battle for Bexar in 1835.
San Antonio refused to relinquish his body, and instead had it exhumed and moved from its first resting place beside the Veremendi house. Brother Masons reinterred Milam's remains on December 7, 1848 in a Masonic ceremony at what is now called Milam Square.
The grave was marked by a flat stone with "Milam" cut into it. In 1897, this was replaced with a gray granite monument by the De Zavala Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.
Nearly a century later a similar event occurred, after the San Antonio Express-News reported on January 5, 1995, that representatives of the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame in Waco were in San Antonio to exhume the remains of the famous Ranger Capt. Samuel H. Walker, a hero of the Mexican war and designer of the Walker Colt revolver. With his descendents' permission, they were to move his remains to Waco.
Lee Spencer of Freer in south Texas, president of the Alamo Defenders Descendents Association and third vice president of the DRT, read the report and rushed to San Antonio, where she discovered that the Rangers from Waco had already begun digging up the grave of Walker with a backhoe. The grave was partly open beside a large, long pile of black, gravelly clay.
Spense got a restraining order to stop the exhumation, based on old newspaper reports which she presented to show the likelihood that the remains of Alamo defenders were buried in the very same area and might be disturbed. History shows that Walker's dying wish had been fulfilled when he was buried next to another former Texas Ranger, Capt. R. A. Gillespie in the Odd Fellows Cemetery at Pine and Paso Hondo streets.
Spencer reported to the City Council on January 12 that John N. McWilliams, a representative of the Walker family, had advised her that the descendents now agreed that the former Texas Ranger captain's body should remain in San Antonio.
An editorial in the Express-News stated the obvious lesson to be learned from this event: "It should be a warning to the city to protect all its historic sites." San Antonio is historically blessed with the resting places of famous Texans. Ben Milam and Samuel Walker are only two of many whose lives added luster to the history of Texas -- and interest in these people is shared throughout the state. But some of the earliest cemeteries on City property -- generally the most historic -- have become sadly neglected and poorly maintained.
Fortunately for San Antonians, some very basic, but essential, steps have been taken already to begin preserving, restoring, and tidying up at the old City cemeteries the final "homes" of those who preceded us. It's all in a City master plan prepared in 1990 for "Old San Antonio City Cemeteries Historic District." The Old San Antonio City Cemeteries is a 103-acre complex located on a high point overlooking the city off East Commerce Street. Roughly, it's bordered on the east by North New Braunfels street; on the north by East Crockett Street; on the south by Nevada street; and on the west by Pine Street.
The "Old San Antonio City Cemeteries Historic District Master Plan," is presented in a large, beautifully illustrated, full-color, thoroughly researched 66-page brochure. It was the work of a team headed by the Landmark Partnership (Hilary J. Saunders and Richard Mahadeen) in association with Everett Fly and Associates, along with K. M. Ng and Associates, with special contributions by Ann Maria Watson, historian, and James W. Saunders, Attorney.
The strikingly informative brochure was edited by Judy Taylor, with graphic design by Steve Taylor. H. Dell Foster Associates were aerial survey consultants.
In introducing the master plan to San Antonians on August 24, 1990, Mayor Lila Cockrell called the area "a Texas treasure," and gave several major reasons for making it a more pleasant place for everyone concerned. Cockrell said that the plan would be used "to restore the respect and dignity inherent in the 19th century urban cemetery as a special realm dedicated to the departed through stabilizing, securing, and restoring the complex." Cockrell also said that restoration would "preserve the record of San Antonio's and Texas' social and cultural history" and "perpetuate our citizens' sense of place."
Walkways leading to some of the famous graves, along with identifying signage and printed pamphlets, would make for a stimulating history experience that could inform, educate and entertain San Antonians as well as visitors to the city.
The last-minute thwarting of the raid on Ranger Samuel Walker's grave in January 1995—a raid prompted partly because his descendents believed a more attractive resting place would be made for him in Waco—should remind San Antonians that they owe their forbearers a more park-like place than an old, run-down cemetery for both the living and the deceased. That is especially true for this rare, historic Texas treasure.
San Antonio City Cemeteries Historic District
Dignowity Cemetery Tempel Beth-El Cemetery Agudas Achim Cemetery St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery Old German Lutheran Cemetery Independent Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery, National Cemetery, Dullnig Family Plot, St. Michael's Polish Catholic Cemetery City Cemetery No.1, City Cemetery No. 2., City Cemetery No. 3, City Cemetery No. 4, City Cemetery No. 5, City Cemetery No. 6., Harmonia Lodge No. 1 Cemetery Hermann Sons Cemetery Nat Lewis Plot & Mausoleum Alamo Masonic Lodge Cemetery, U. S. Cemetery Confederate Cemetery, Anchor Masonic Lodge Cemetery, Knights of Pythias Cemetery, St. Joseph's Society Catholic Cemetery, St. Peter Claver Catholic Cemetery, Beacon Light Masonic Lodge No. 50 Cemetery, St. Elmo Lodge No. 25 Knights of Pythias Cemetery, United Brothers of Friendship Cemetery, Grand United Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery, San Antonio Lodge No. 1 Cemetery, St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery, St. John's Lutheran Cemetery Emmanuel German Lutheran Cemetery
Seguin, I don't know if a dig at the cemetery has already been done, or not. It seems kind of pretentious to be placing a marker on the spot without first having done a dig, though. I will check into it and see what I can find out.
Last Edit: Dec 11, 2007 0:32:13 GMT -5 by neferetus