The Alamo

The Alamo and the history behind it easily belong among the most iconic historical pieces of Texas and San Antonio history.  The Battle of the Alamo in 1836 proved a decisive battle in the Texas Revolution. Though the Battle itself ended in a Mexican victory, word of Mexican general Santa Anna’s cruelness reached Texan settlers and encouraged them to take arms against the army. Following the 13-day battle, the Mexican Army was defeated at San Jacinto a month later on April 21, 1836.

Fire Near San Jacinto Battlefield Causes Indefinite Closure

The San Jacinto battleground, along with the Battleship Texas museum, has been closed for an indefinite period of time following an ITC chemical fire that occurred in March of 2019. While fighting the fire, some of the fire suppressant foam along with toxic chemicals leaking from the tank flowed down into the Houston Ship Channel which lies between the battleground and the ITC chemical plant. Because of this, celebrations for the annual celebration of the Battle of San Jacinto were canceled. This is only the second time in thirty five years that the festivities have had to be canceled. This was a rather big letdown for many people as this remembrance celebration takes many months to plan. The Battle of San Jacinto was the last big battle of the Texas War for Independence which famously saw the Texan forces route the Mexican soldiers under the command of Santa Anna. Texan troops also ended up “capturing” Santa Anna’s prosthetic leg after the battle was over. At the end of the battle Santa Anna surrendered to Texan forces however this was not officially recognized by the American government. Battleship Texas is a famed battleship that sailed in both World Wars and was converted into a museum after being decommissioned.

Public History in the Wild – Manuel Musquiz Ranch Home

The author standing outside the ruins of the house, across the highway stands the plaque dedicated to the home.

These are the ruins of a ranch home built by Manuel Musquiz who was a pioneer who settled down in between Fort Davis and Alpine, TX in 1854. Due to the frequency of Native American raids during that period Mr. Musquiz eventually abandoned his home and moved elsewhere. From 1880 to 1882, the Texas Rangers used it as a Ranger station while they were clearing out Native Americans and marauding bandits in the surrounding area. After the Rangers abandoned it, the home eventually fell into disarray until it became as it is today.

Public History in the Wild – Jeff Davis County Jail

The author outside the entrance to the jail

The Jeff Davis County Jail, located in Fort Davis, TX, was constructed at the start of the 1910’s to replace an older jail that was deemed inefficient due to its adobe construction. The jail took on a castle like appearance because it was what was popular for most jails in the 19th century. The jail remained open until 1978 where new inmates were transported to Marfa, TX. The jail was funny to observe as it is seated next to the intricate Jeff Davis County Courthouse and the remainder of the small town is mostly brick and mortar buildings.

Public History in the Wild – Terlingua Cemetery

This is a plaque inside the Terlingua Cemetery which is located by the US-Mexican border in Terlingua, TX. Terlingua was once a mining town at the end of the 19th century into the early parts of the 20th century but is now a ghost town with a small population that consists of local artists. The cemetery mostly holds the remains of older residents of the town but there are also graves from as recently as 2018. It was amazing to see how some of these plots had withstood the test of time and continue showing the local traditions.The Author by a plaque inside Terlingua Cemetery

Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Oblate Grotto

The Oblate Grotto is a massive and Catholic place of worship that can be found in San Antonio, Texas.  Regulars and passerbys can both on the dense spiritual presence felt at this place of worship. Unlike orthodox churches, the Oblate Grotto is a church that holds all of its events and services outside rather than behind closed doors. Attendees notice that this change can bring a huge wave of comfort and spiritual attachment to the site which only furthers the religious experience that the Grotto was meant to give.

The Grotto encompasses an area of five acres and in this space, there are two reconstructions of paramount religious events. The first is a recreation of Tepeyac Hill in Mexico and where Our Lady appeared before Saint Juan Diego as Our Lady of Guadalupe. During this meeting, Our Lady asked that a shrine be built in her name and there, Juan Diego received the beautiful image of Guadalupe to convince the bishop to construct the site.

The other religious location is the resemblance to Lourdes in France where San Bernadette had her Marian Spirits apparitions. Having this spiritual connection to a woman who saw in person the religious spirits only adds to the experience and allows for a deeper understanding of the faith.

The Oblate Grotto is a famous worship site where thousands visit yearly to receive an experience that cannot be felt on a daily basis. Many people have had their lives and point of view changed as a direct result of the events held here and there will be many, many more in the years to come.

Works Cited

https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=1757

San Antonio, Texas: The Oblate Grotto and Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe

 

World’s Largest Virgin Mary Mosaic

Virgin Mary Mosaic, San Antonio, , Texas

The City of San Antonio is known for many things; The Alamo, The Riverwalk, Fiesta, Six Flags and many more. Of these known titles of the growing city is the World’s largest Virgin Mary Mosaic.  The 15 foot mosaic, located on the Westside of San Antonio,  was dedicated to the Guadalupe Plaza in 2004, by artist Jesse Trevino. This hidden gem of the city is not only beautiful to look at, but it highlights the rich cultural background of the cultural heritage of those who reside on this particular part of the city.

St. Stanislaus Church

 

St. Stanislaus Church's front entrance, taken from the parking lot on a sunny afternoon.
The front entrance to St. Stanislaus Church

Known for being the second oldest Polish parish in the United States, St. Stanislaus Church stands far from the busy main street in Bandera, closer to the original survey location and modern day suburbs. The current limestone structure was built in 1876 by Polish immigrants who first settled the area in the 1850s. Gothic styling dominates the exterior of the church, while the interior is much more conservative, reflecting the parish mission of being focused on Catholic teachings.

 

The church is flanked by several buildings on the surrounding streets, with two old rectories for nuns, now a museum and church office, an adoration chapel (Now the priest’s quarters.), and the now defunct St. Jospeh’s school, which serves as a meeting hall for local christian groups.

 

141st Infantry Regiment

 

 Historical marker, San Antonio, Texas, 141ST infantry Regiment, Bexar county
141st infantry Regiment historical marker located in San Antonio, Texas

“ To the men who died at the Alamo: All Texans a claim both and song and in the story the days of our youth – the days of your glory may they also remember, wherever they go, the man left behind at some far Alamo”

   The  state  of Texas has a long history of  military affairs.   When it comes to military affairs the 141st infantry Regiment has the title of the oldest militia unit in Texas for the United Stares Army.  The 141st infantry Regiment has a long history of military  involvement by being able to trace its lineage back to the Texas revolution of 1836.  In  addition to the Texas revolution the 141st infantry Regiment can trace its involvement back to the Spanish American war of 1898, the Cuban occupation of 1898, the Mexican border service beginning in 1916, World War I in 1918, and World War II from 1941-1945.  The 141st  infantry division’s  military history continues on now as part of the 72nd Birgade  Combat Division.

This is  historical  marker, dedicated to the 141st infantry division, does not do the history of this military division justice.  This military division has such an extensive history that we can’t fully see the whole picture of the significance of this division  from what is shown on this historical marker.  Much like you may have been, I was also very surprised of the extensive military lineage of the oldest militia unit in Texas.  What stands out most to me is the infantry units motto, “Remember the Alamo.”  What surprised me most about this motto is that it is still said to this day. The history behind this motto is something that is deeply rooted into all Texans.

Cenotaph Memorial of Alamo Defenders

A Cenotaph is a type of monument built to honor those who are buried elsewhere but focuses mainly on soldiers killed in the line of duty. The Alamo Cenotaph or “The Spirit of Sacrifice”,  commemorates the soldiers who died while defending the Alamo in 1836.  The monument is a free-standing marble statue which bears the soldiers’ bodies and an engraving of all those who participated in the defense on Texas’s side. The Cenotaph bears a staggering 187 names of Alamo defenders and the images of Garrison leaders as well. Recently there has been controversy surrounding the relocation of this monument which sparked fierce debate on both sides.