SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio police are investigating a historical document that went missing from the grounds of the Alamo. An authentic copy of the Texas Declaration of Independence seems to have vanished.
But some are questioning if the missing document is authentic.
Daughters of the Republic of Texas Librarian Leslie Stapleton took KENS-5 through a locked vault on the grounds of the Alamo where two of only 13 surviving copies of the Texas Declaration of Independence are stored.
Stapleton said the documents are rarely put on display, but can be viewed by the public when requested.
The parchment may be yellowed, but the print is still bold—and so is the message: declaring independence from Mexico.
A thousand copies were made, many mailed out across the young republic.
“Their way of getting it out was putting it in broadside form and spread the news,” said Stapleton.
But now comes news one of the other surviving copies may be missing—a copy held by the Mission Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, in a small office space in another part of the library building.
The DRT chapter said they were conducting an inventory of documents for the Texas General Land Office when they noticed a framed copy of the Declaration was missing from its familiar spot near a filing cabinet.
Instead, they found another copy …with a cardboard backing in its place.
“Someone believed when they looked at this that it was not the correct document. This was a copy of what was supposed to be there. But that is undetermined. We cannot determine that to be true,” said San Antonio Police Chief William McManus.
With only a baker’s dozen of copies left in the world, other DRT chapters and historians think they’d know if there was a third, authentic copy on the grounds of the Alamo.
That’s fueling speculation that the missing document could simply be a souvenir.
The Mission Chapter of the DRT isn’t commenting on the investigation.
For now, police investigators are still talking with those who have access to the room where the alleged theft occurred.
President general of the DRT, Karen R. Thompson, released the following statement early Thursday evening:
On Tuesday, the Alamo Mission Chapter, notified Alamo staff and The Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Inc. about a possible artifact theft. The chapter maintains a separate presence at the Alamo for clerical purposes. As such, the artifact in question is not the known property of the State of Texas. Artifacts within the Shrine are secure and under the guard of the Alamo Rangers.