Description

    William Barret Travis signed receipt from the Alamo

    Historically Important William Barret Travis Manuscript Document Signed "W. Barret Travis/Lt. Col. Comdt.," one page, 7.75" x 6.25". Bejar, February 23, 1836. On the day after this document was signed, on February 24, 1836, from the Alamo, Lt. Col. Travis wrote the following letter he addressed "To the People of Texas & all Americans in the world." In full, "Fellow citizens & compatriots - I am beseiged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna - I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man - The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken - I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls - I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism, & every thing dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch - The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country - VICTORY OR DEATH William Barret Travis Lt. Col. Comdt." He added this postscript: "P.S. The Lord is on our side - When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn - We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves - Travis"

    Offered here is the receipt signed by Travis the previous day for the 30 head of Beeves (heifers). In Spanish, translated, in full: "Received from Citizen Ignacio Perez thirty heifers, for the consumption of this garrison that will be paid for in the form of four hundred thirteen pesos by the provisional government of Texas as soon as it has the dinero." Travis purchased the cows, promising the government would pay the bill when it had the money. He has boldly signed his name and title beneath which Perez has penned a receipt dated 6½ months later. Translated from the Spanish: "Paid voluntarily by Cm [Commander] Francisco Ruiz for the amount received of this Señor Bejar September 8 of 1836. Igno. Perez." Ignacio Perez was the son of Col. Ignacio Perez who had helped command the Royalist forces in the victory over the Republican Army in the Battle of Medina in 1813 and was alcalde (mayor) and interim Spanish Governor. When he died in 1823, his son inherited his land and lived in the Spanish Governor's Palace which his father had bought in 1804. Francisco Ruiz was one of only two of the 59 signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence to be born in Texas; the other was his nephew, José Antonio Navarro. He had been Commander of Fort Tenoxtitlan from 1830-1832, hence the title given him in Perez's receipt. On September 5, 1836, Ruiz was elected by the Bexar District as its Senator in the First Congress of the Republic of Texas. As evidenced by the receipt on this note, three days later, he paid the 413 pesos owed by the government of Texas to Ignacio Perez.

    Commander Francisco Ruiz's son, Francisco Antonio Ruiz, was the alcalde of San Antonio de Bexar during the battle of the Alamo. He was ordered by Gen. Santa Anna to identify the fallen Alamo leaders and to dispose of the dead. Ruiz later wrote one of the most vivid eyewitness accounts of the fall of the Alamo. In part, "On the North battery of the fortress lay the lifeless body of Colonel Travis on the gun carriage, shot only in the forehead. Toward the west, and in a small fort opposite the city, we found the body of Colonel Crockett. Colonel Bowie was found dead in his bed, in one of the rooms of the south side..." Before Travis departed for the Alamo, he left his six-year-old son Charles in the care of a friend, David Ayers. Charles had only just come to live with his father after a four-year separation between his parents that ended in divorce. In his last known letter, on March 3, 1836, Travis wrote Ayers, "Take care of my little boy. If the country should be saved, I may make for him a splendid fortune; but if the country be lost and I should perish, he will have nothing but the proud recollection that he is the son of a man who died for his country." William Barret Travis was only 26 years old when he died at the Alamo. His letter of February 24, 1836 to the people of Texas and all Americans, symbolizes Travis's unyielding courage, heroism, and patriotism. After penning the ironic words "Victory or Death," he assured himself that "the Lord is on our side" because 80 or 90 bushels of corn were just found in deserted houses and "20 or 30 head of Beeves" are now within the walls of the Alamo. That letter is in the collection of the Texas State Library. Virtually all important Travis letters are in public institutions, never to find their way into private collections. Travis's autograph is rare in any form, whether they be documents, letters, or even a simple clipped signature. Seldom is anything bearing Travis's autograph offered for sale, much less a document written from the Alamo. This extraordinary receipt for the 30 Beeves mentioned by him in his "Victory or Death" letter, in very fine condition, tangible proof of the source of the beef used to feed Travis, Bowie, Crockett and the rest of the Texans as they fought for their country, determined never to surrender or retreat, is the cornerstone of a Texana collection.


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    December, 2007
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