Travis secures walnut scantling for the defense of the AlamoWilliam Barret Travis Autograph Document Signed, with Second Document Signed by John N. Seguin and Antonio Menchaca. One page, 7.5" x 9.5", Commandancy of [San Antonio de] Bexar [Alamo]; February 21, 1836. The document refers to Travis' plan concerning the defense of the Alamo from the anticipated attack of Mexican forces. Travis was warned of the planned invasion of Texas by the Mexican army of Santa Anna by a San Antonio merchant Eugenio Navarro, who owned the wood referred to in Travis' document. Navarro's wood was used by Travis and his fellow Alamo defenders to build platforms for cannon, essential to defending the small mission from a large, well-equipped army.
"There is now in use at the Alamo Six hundred & Eighty two feet of Walnut Scantling as platforms for the cannon belonging to Eugenio Navarro which are to be paid for, if not returned at their first value-Bexar February 21st 1836.
W. Barret Travis"
The document, endorsed by William G. Cook (1808-1847), Quartermaster General, demonstrates Travis' intention of compensating Navarro for providing the invaluable materials. The bottom of the document includes a notation in Spanish which reads: "Obligation in which they offer to pay the value of 50 sawn beams of black walnut, which they are using at the Alamo for Mr. Travis's garrison."
The verso of the receipt is docketed in Spanish, possibly by Navarro: "El Sñr. Travis oblign. de 50 vigas. / Feb. 21 de 1836." ["Promissory note from Mr. Travis."] Navarro had to wait until December of 1838 to be compensated, as the receipt below indicates.
The Travis document is accompanied by a receipt, one page, 8.25" x 6.75", Houston; December 1, 1838. The receipt is written in an unknown hand.
"We the undersigned hereby certify that the Six Hundred and Eighty two feet of Walnut Scantling mentioned in the annexed Document would be worth at least twelve hundred and a half cents per foot amounting in the whole to $85. 25/100"
The receipt is signed by John N. Seguin, Committee of Claims and Accounts, and Antonio Manchaca, Mayor pro tem of San Antonio.
William Barret Travis (1809-1836) was born and raised in South Carolina, where he worked as a lawyer and a newspaper editor. In 1831, he left his wife, young son and unborn daughter in South Carolina and settled in Texas. When tensions between Texan residents and Mexico grew into a rebellion, Travis was one of the first to sign up for the Texan forces, with Santa Anna ordering his arrest. Popular with Texas rebels, Travis by 1835 had risen in the ranks to become a lieutenant colonel of cavalry in the Texan volunteer army. In December 1835, Texans drove Mexican forces from San Antonio de Bexar and occupied the Alamo. The following month, Travis was ordered to reinforce Colonel James C. Neill (1788-1848) at the former mission. Travis had only 30 men to add to the small Alamo force, raising the number of Texas fighters to 150. After Neill left to care for his family, Travis and Colonel James Bowie (1796-1836) took command of the small group of Alamo defenders. By the end of February 1836, Mexican forces under General Joaquín Ramírez y Sesma and General Santa Anna had surrounded the Alamo. In desperate need of reinforcements, Travis wrote pleas for help. One of his messages, sent via courier to Gonzales (70 miles away), resulted in the arrival at the Alamo on March 1 of a company of Texas Rangers, accompanied by 32 men. They turned out to be the only reinforcements Travis and his fellow defenders would receive. On February 24, three days after the date of the document presented here, Travis wrote a letter, possibly the most famous document in Texas history, calling on Texans in particular and Americans in general to come and help defend the Alamo, vowing never to surrender or retreat and adding the words "Victory or Death" before his signature. The letter was later reprinted in newspapers around the country as well as in Europe. Newspapers began publishing transcripts of the letter as early as March 2, the same day on which delegates to the Convention at Washington officially declared Texas' independence. On March 6, after a 13-day siege, Mexican troops overran the Alamo and Travis, Bowie, Davy Crockett (1786-1836), along with the rest of the Alamo's defenders, were killed in the fierce struggle that followed.
Juan Nepomuceno Seguín (1806-1890), born in San Antonio, was served in the military on the side of Texas independence and later in the army of the Republic of Texas. He was at the Alamo serving under Travis but was sent out on courier duty and avoided being killed along with the small force on March 6, 1836. He led a company of Texas Mexicans in the Battle of San Jacinto in April 1826 and accepted the Mexican surrender of San Antonia the following June. He later served in the Texas Senate, serving on the Committee of Claims and Accounts and as chair of the Committee on Military Affairs.
José Antonio Menchaca (1800-1879), born in San Antonio, joined Juan N. Seguín's company of Texas Mexicans and fought with them at the Battle of San Jacinto. After the Texas revolution, Menchaca returned to San Antonio where he served as an alderman and as the third mayor of the town. Menchaca was at the Alamo before it was surrounded by Mexican forces and both James Bowie and Seguín urged him to go on furlough to protect his family in fear of retribution by Santa Anna. As a result, Menchaca avoided being killed along with the small force of Texas soldiers on March 6, 1836.
This is one of the most significant Alamo documents that has survived and to be offered for sale.
Condition: The Travis document has the usual folds, with what appears to be three red circular remnants of wax seals, along with mild toning and a few small damp stains. The accompanying receipt includes the usual folds, toning, especially along the right edge of the document, and minor paper loss along the edges. Overall, both documents are in fine condition.
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