"Victory or death".
Those words were written in a letter sent by Alamo commander William Barrett Travis. Now 177 years after it was sent from the besieged mission, an effort is underway to return it to San Antonio.
FOX7 got exclusive access, Tuesday, to several of the documents.
Deep inside a building on the east side of the state capitol complex is where the iconic letter from William B. Travis is locked away. Early next year his words of defiance that have echoed through time will return to the place where they were first written.
"Instead of leaving under the cover of darkness surreptitiously out the gate it's going to go back in glory that it deserves," said Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.
Commissioner Patterson has led the effort for this homecoming despite concern exposure to natural light could cause some damage.
"And on occasion and an occasion like this where this letter left 177 years ago and has never returned until it returns this coming February, that's worth the risk," said Patterson.
The letter will be on display in the main hall of the Alamo from February 23 until March 7th as part of the anniversary of the siege it will be kept in a $20,000 thousand display case being built in Germany. Visitors will be able view both sides of the letter which includes notes from the curriers who carried it out. Patterson is raising money to pay for the case and other expenses. He's goal is $100,000.
The "Victory or Death" letter from Travis is not the only item linked tom him going on display. This collection of documents written before and after the fall of the Alamo is also going on the trip to San Antonio.
The additional paperwork, which is stored at the General Land Office, includes Travis' land grant for property along Onion Creek in what's now Hays County, minutes from an old town council meeting when he served as secretary, and a list of those who died with Travis at the Alamo including Bowie and a private from Tennessee by the name of Crocket.
Staff members started packing Tuesday morning.
"To me this isn't a job, this is a calling, this is a profession and I'm proud of it but yes this is I'm a missionary for history that's the way I see it and if we can proselytize we can give out to everybody else and let them know the story I think a lot of people would be excited about the stuff we work around with every day, it's a great job," said Deputy Commissioner Mark Lambert who works in the Archives and Records section at the Land Office.
This project comes a few weeks after the Texas Attorney General issued a scathing report against the group that once managed the Alamo. While it justified the decision by state lawmakers to shift responsibility away from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas to the Land Office, Patterson called the report old news.
"The Alamo security is going to be phenomenal," said Patterson.
To make sure nothing happens, extra security will be on site while the letter is on display.
In 1893 his great grand-son sold it to the state for $85, that's about $2,000 in today's currency according to officials with at the state Archives. When the letter goes on public display at the Alamo getting it to San Antonio may involve a security caravan similar to what we saw when the president made his visits to Austin.
"We're talking about very extensive details we might even have air cover, we might have everything but naval gunboats, on the way down there cause it's hard to do that on I-35, but we will have ample security transit to and transit from," said Patterson.
The road trip may take place around February 22nd. Donations to help pay for the exhibit are still being collected. Money left over will be used to help preserve other documents.
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