Downtown San Antonio and Alamo Research, December 2019

Comic Sans Project Post 4

So, like I said in my previous post, I wanted to go downtown to do some research on the Alamo next. Since they had the Impeachment Eve march the day I was planning to go on my research trip, I decided to do both and make a day of it.

In mid-December 2019, they found three new bodies at the Alamo. Let me explain my use of the word “new.” I don’t mean “new” like “they were just killed,” I mean “new” like “additional to all of the other bodies that we know are there.” You see, between the Alamo’s years as a mission and the aftermath of the battle, there are a lot of bodies in/near/around the Alamo. A group of commenters on a blog I follow were discussing the discovery, and I started down the Alamo research rabbit hole.

The founding site of Mission San Antonio de Valero is generally described as being “near the springs of San Pedro Creek.” One thing led to another and I found that they believe that the location was near where San Franceso di Paola church is today.

On the blog, we also talked about the fact that the church at the Alamo today is the second location of the church on that site. We completely ignored the second location of the mission, which I have yet to find. Ooh! Maybe another research trip this week? So, on Impeachment Eve, I took the bus downtown and checked out those sites.

When I first arrived downtown, my first stop was unrelated to the Alamo at all (well, it was kind of obliquely related, in that it has a connection to James Bowie). One of the bigger figures in the area a generation or so before the Texan Revolution was Fernando Veramendi. He was a businessman and a shopkeeper and built a large house which came to be known as the Veramendi Palace. Fernando’s son, Juan Martín, was mayor of Bexar (the name San Antonio had before it became San Antonio) and then vice governor of Coahuila and Texas, the name of the Mexican state that San Antonio used to be part of. Juan Martín was also James Bowie’s father-in-law. James was married to Juan Martín’s daughter Ursula.

The Veramendi Palace stood on Soledad Street and gradually fell into disrepair. When they widened the street in 1909, they razed the building. The historical marker for the Veramendi Palace was placed inside a building which was later built on the site and housed the department store Solo Serve. The marker is still on the list of official historical markers, but they are in the process of razing the Solo Serve building, so I am now on a quest to find that historical marker.

As a result, my first stop on that trip was to visit the location of the Veramendi Palace and see if I could find the marker. I visited the hotel that is now on the site, hoping that maybe the marker is now in there, but had no luck. I asked the ladies at the front desk about it, and neither had ever seen a historical marker anywhere near there. There’s a passage down to the River Walk from Soledad Street next door, though, and they suggested I check there. It wasn’t there, either. So I pressed on and continued my search for the original location of The Alamo.

The Alamo at night with Texas flag, August 2019
I know this would be more appropriate in a post about the Impeachment Eve events, since the march is when I passed by the Alamo at night, but since I may never make that post, and I like this photo, I’m using it today. This picture was actually taken in August of 2019 when Evelyn and I took the bus downtown to see if it would be feasible for Frank and me to take the nighttime bus lineup to the B-52s concert. It was, by the way, and we did, but more on that in that post, since this caption is going to be longer than my blog post if I keep this up.

I hiked northwest to San Francesco and nosed around in their parking lot. The discovery of the site came because there was a spot in the parking lot that didn’t seem to stay paved. When they pulled up the asphalt, they found a spring. Then, while looking in that area, they found wrought iron that looks to be from the 18th century (when the Alamo was founded) and later pottery, rosary beads, and other items. They’re looking for one specific type of pottery called “puebla polychrome” which would need to be found there to confirm San Francesco as the location.

I looked around in the parking lot for the site of the spring with no luck. It hadn’t rained in a long time, though, and since the city is pulling so much water from the Edwards Aquifer these days, it’s hard to find the smaller springs unless it has rained recently. Maybe I’ll hike out there after a rain sometime.

I also walked along the street that separates the property from San Pedro Creek, but didn’t see any markers or anything. There were cars in the parking lot, so I walked up to the church, so see if anyone was in there who had answers, but the door was locked. I’m not sure if the cars were people working on the construction of the new linear park there by San Pedro Creek or if they were having some kind of private meeting in the church or the hall next door, or if people use the parking lot as a kind of park-and-ride and were taking the bus somewhere else from there. I suspect that some day when I have nothing better to do, I’ll head out there and figure that out.

I walked from there to the Alamo and walked around the inside of the building to see if maybe I could buttonhole an archaeologist. I found one man standing on a ladder working on something, but didn’t want to interrupt whatever he was doing. So I just walked around inside the church for a while and then toured the grounds.

I visited the new museum at the Alamo and found that maybe there were no actual cottonwoods on the property (“alamo” is Spanish for “cottonwood”). The name Alamo may have come from a branch of the Mexican military that was stationed there, the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras, known commonly as the Alamos de Parras, because the soldiers originated from the town of San Jose y Santiago del Alamo.

I realized at this point that it was nearly 5 and I was near where a friend works. She takes the bus to and from work and her dad picks her up at her bus stop and drives her home, so I knew she wouldn’t have time to socialize, so I just texted her to say “hey” and went on my way to the Impeachment Eve events.

I’m thinking about blogging about the Impeachment Eve events, even if their time has sort of passed. Maybe I’ll do the B-52s concert instead. I don’t know. All I know is that I’ve done my five minutes of work on my blog for today and so I can go to bed now.

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