Heritage, Winter 2004 Page: 33
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Letters written by David P. Cummings, one of the Alamo defenders who died in that battle. Images from the Texas General Land Office.
Sometime between February 14th and the arrival of the
Mexican army on February 23rd, Cummings left the Alamo and
San Antonio de Bexar with ten others to survey land due them
as immigrants to Texas and for their military service. So began a
mystery for Alamo researchers and historians.
Most modern histories of the battle state that Cummings and
his companions returned to the Alamo on March 1 with the
"Immortal 32" relief force from Gonzales, the only reinforcements
believed to have entered the Alamo during the siege. But
testimony from Alamo survivor Susanna Dickinson contained in
Cummings' Court of Claims file states, "that she has a distinct
recollection of the said David P. Cummings...with others on
permission went to Cibolo to survey their Head-Rights and from
his returning in a few days, in compliance with an order (sent by
express) from Col. Travis." Did Travis send a specific order to
Cummings and his party to return to the Alamo and were they
back in "a few days" when the siege began? Or did he return with
the Gonzales relief force eight days into the siege? Dickinson's
cryptic statement, preserved in the GLO archives, enlivens the
ongoing Alamo debate. One thing is certain, David P.
Cummings, 26-year-old volunteer from Pennsylvania, was killed
in the carnage that engulfed the Alamo at dawn, March 6, 1836.
Researchers and genealogists who visit the GLO archives can
see the original documents that tell the final chapter in the
Cummings saga. Cummings' father and brother Jonathon both
came to Texas. David Cummings' father, as his heir, claimed his
martyred son's headright certificate while Jonathon Cummings
received his own grant for immigrating to Texas.
Alamo-related documents in the GLO archives include the
donation land grants issued to the defenders (their heirs) for
falling at the Alamo, muster rolls for Travis' command and the
Gonzales relief force, testimony by Alamo survivor Susanna
Dickinson, and a soldier's recollection of David Crockett in San
Antonio de Bexar before the battle. Researchers can view the
signatures of James Bowie and William Barrett Travis, read a
physical description of one of the defenders provided by his surviving
brothers, and read the testimony of Francisco Esparza,
brother of slain Tejano defender Gregorio Esparza.
HERITAGE WINTER 2004
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Winter 2004, periodical, Winter 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45372/m1/33/: accessed September 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.