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No place touches the heart or fires the imagination of all Texans like the Alamo. No single word puts to marching such a troop of memories or sets to surging such a range of deep emotions. For no other incident in history surpasses, the Alamo as an example of devotion to personal honor, invincibility of purpose, and utter defiance of danger, with no alternative to violent death, than the simple Spanish word – Alamo.
In the one hundred and thirty-eight years since that mission fortress fell its story has been told with the same incredulous admiration and awe, and absorbed with the same flesh-tingling rapture, so long as red-blooded men relish courage and freedom, nurture the sacrificial virtues which sustain them.
No historian can now add to the record; no supercilious critic of its terrific drama and its noble passions can detract from it. Like all surpreme tragedies, its story holds its contradictions, leaves puzzling questions unanswered, and poses its enigmas. All the more to t prompt the retelling. Understandably, the record was incomplete, for though Thermopylae had her messenger of defeat The Alamo had none.
The Alamo Mission Bell was cast in 1722 for the Mission San Antonio de Valero, known as the Alamo, where it hung for many years. From there, as the story goes, it was being taken to the mission at Refugio when the cart in which it was being hauled broke down, and the bell was left beside the road near the San Antonio River.
There in time some passing horseman found it a likely weight for staking his mount, but the bronc stampeded, dragging the bell ‘for miles,’ cracking it badly and breaking away its thin-lipped rim.
In 1900 it was found on a scrap pile and brought to Victoria, to Moses Oppenheimer, a dealer in junk, who recognized its historical interest and sent it to Miss Adina de Zavala, proud descendant of a pioneer family in San Antonio.
Miss de Zavala gave it to Mrs. Bessie Lee Fitzhugh, who featured it in her lovely little book, Bells Over Texas, and later sold it to a dealer in antiques, who in turn sold it to a collector in Nashville, Tennessee.
The bell was purchased in 1974 by five West Texans for the Nita Stewart Haley Memorial Library, Midland, Texas. It is on display in the lobby of the museum.
Buy a copy of The Alamo Mission Bell, by J. Evetts Haley through the bookstore.
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