The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 256
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
1836, immediately after the retreat from Texas. The second narrative
(400 pages long) is a memoir and review of the campaign, based on the
diary. Written between 1837 and 1839-4o0, according to Pefia's own pub-
lished statements, this was the document translated and published as With
Santa Anna in Texas. "I shall pour out the diary just as I have written it,"
Pefia opened his document. And therein lies the question. Is the "Pefia
diary," which surfaced in the 1950os in Mexico and presently exists in the
Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, what it
is purported to be-the genuine writing ofJos6 Enrique de la Pefia-or is
it a forgery?2
Serious questioning of the Pefia account began when Bill Groneman
came to wonder how Pefia could have identified Crockett.
Pefia had been in San Antonio for only two days before the Alamo battle. There
is no evidence that he had ever been to the United States or that he had ever
heard of Crockett. Yet, according to his alleged account he was able to make a pos-
itive identification of the frontier congressman and to relate some background in-
formation on him. His 'diary' never explains how he came by this information.
The account does not describe the man identified as Crockett as having stated
anything to Pefia or to anyone else. This was knowledge that sprung fully armored
from the brow of the writer of the account. ... I took another look at the account
and came to the conclusion that the document in which the account is contained
is a modern-day fake-a forgery.3
In two books-Defense of a Legend: Crockett and the de la Peia Diary (1994)
and Death of a Legend: The Myth and Mystery Surrounding the Death of Davy
Crockett (1999)-Groneman developed his thinking and presented ques-
tions that have led to serious and extended study of the document and its
During the quarter century since the Pefia narrative appeared in Eng-
lish, whether it is genuine or a fraud has been argued on three bases: first
and primarily, on the content of the document, concentrating on matters
of history (apparent anachronisms and how fully certain matters in the
narrative conform to known facts); second, on the quality of the transla-
tion (claims to the genuineness of the document have been supported in
part by employing different meanings from those used in the original
translation for certain critically important words); and, third, on the
2 In addition to Groneman's works (see notes 3 and 4 below), see also those ofJames E. Crisp,
particularly: "The Little Book That Wasn't There: The Myth and Mystery of the de la Pefia Diary,"
Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 98 (Oct., 1994), 261-296, and "Introduction" to Jose Enrique
de la Pefia, With Santa Anna in Texas: A Personal Narratwve of the Revolutwon, trans. and ed. Carmen
Perry (expanded edition; College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1999), xi-xxv, xxvi (quo-
8 Bill Groneman, Death of a Legend: The Myth and Mystery Surrounding the Death of Davy Crockett
(Plano: Republic of Texas Press, 1999), xi-xii.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/m1/286/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.