Remembering the Alamo's connections to Missouri

Friday, April 9, 2004

Some probably remember "The Alamo" opens today in movie theaters, but certainly fewer know that the leaders of the battle for Texas independence share ties to Missouri.

Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett and Stephen Austin all have connections -- some more tenuous than others -- to the Show Me state.

The movie follows 13 days in 1836 when a group of 189 men, including Bowie and Crockett, defended the old Spanish fort known as the Alamo against the army of Gen. Santa Anna and took a stand for Texas independence from Mexico.

Jim Bowie is a larger-than-life figure whose myth was created when he died in the battle of the Alamo. Bowie was not a native Texan, but born in Kentucky.

In the early 1800s, when Bowie was a child, his family moved to the Big Lake area of Missouri north of Charleston and about 40 miles away from Cape Girardeau. After two years, Bowie's family moved on to Louisiana.

The move from Missouri to Louisiana was a pretty common occurrence at the time of Bowie's life, said Southeast Missouri State University history professor Dr. Frank Nickell. Many people passed through Missouri because it has so many rivers that make it accessible.

Another Texas nationalist at the Alamo, Davy Crockett, may have also have a connection to Missouri. According to Joan Feezor, an archivist with the Missouri Secretary of State's office, some members of Crockett's family are buried in Henson, Mo., six miles southeast of Charleston.

Although not involved directly with the story of the Alamo, Stephen Austin is an important figure in the battle for Texas independence.

Austin's family moved to Potosi, Mo., when he was 5 years old and lived there until he went to college and returned after graduation. He briefly served as a member of the Missouri territorial legislature.

Austin's father, Moses, was an influential early resident of Potosi and is buried in Potosi City Cemetery.

The town remembers its link to history with a Moses Austin Heritage Festival in June.

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