Collectors’ Additions

I was very disappointed in the Texas Monthly excerpt of the book Forget the Alamo [“The Next Battle of the Alamo!,” June 2021]. The Alamo has long been revered as a monument to the courage of mankind. Not a week goes by without someone giving a speech—somewhere in the world—that refers to that fateful day of March 6, 1836. Your book excerpt does not glorify that event.  

It took a courageous foreigner, Phil Collins, to put together an incredible collection of Alamo artifacts. He should be applauded by everyone in Texas, including Texas Monthly. Your excerpt does not do justice to the resources, time, and effort that went into Collins’s collection. If you have any doubt, buy his book The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector’s Journey.  

The authors took aim at artifacts in the collection. But most collectors don’t buy these expensive artifacts on a hunch. It is easy to say an artifact is fake or cast doubt on it, but it is a cheap shot.
Miles Reynolds, South Padre Island

Shame on you for amplifying a few small provenance questions in Collins’s valuable collection of Alamo memorabilia.  The cover headline “Come and Fake It?” implies a scandalous scheme on the part of Collins to bamboozle the keepers of the Alamo legacy by pawning off fake artifacts. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Yes, management and mismanagement concerning the Alamo and its artifacts is a compelling story.  However, by exaggerating small questions about the origins of a few items, TM effectively devalues Collins’s generosity and seeks to exploit his name to sell magazines. 
Carolyn Haddad, Cypress

My name is Cheryl B. Nesmith, and I am the wife of the late Samuel P. Nesmith Jr., who was included in your recent article “The Next Battle of the Alamo!” I take exception to the part of the article concerning the attack on the Texana collection that Phil Collins gifted to the people of Texas and to the attack on the reputations of my husband and others involved with parts of this collection. Sam was a well-respected military historian who spent decades working with archaeologists and historians on military and Spanish colonial artifacts. 

Sam and I were thrilled when Collins made the decision to gift his collection and even more thrilled when officials at the General Land Office and the Alamo agreed to provide a place where the collection could be displayed.

Shortly after the public announcement of this generous donation, my husband and I talked about how we hoped these officials were sincere in completing this task. We did voice our concern that these individuals would not come through due to political backbiting and personal jealousies. 

If that should happen, the only way for these officials to justify their incompetence and ineptitude would be to attack the authenticity of the Collins collection. The attack would also be focused on my husband’s reputation and that of anyone else involved. Apparently, as Sam and I feared, this is exactly what has happened. I would not be shocked if Collins goes through with retrieving his collection of Alamo artifacts. Should this happen, the loss to the people of Texas will be enormous, and the blame can rest squarely on the shoulders of squabbling politicians. 
Cheryl B. Nesmith, Chama, New Mexico

Are We Having Funds Yet?

In your June 2021 story “Flight Risks,” you reported that on March 30, about one hour after the explosion of a SpaceX rocket, Elon Musk tweeted he was donating $20 million to Cameron County schools and $10 million to the City of Brownsville. Did Musk do that? If so, when? And how much money did he provide  to the schools and city? 
Jo Ann Duman, Texarkana

Editors’ note: According to local officials, the Musk Foundation has followed through on Musk’s promise of a donation for Cameron County public schools and the City of Brownsville. The first round of funding was distributed in late spring. 

Taxes Hold ’Em

I read your recent article about energy subsidies for the renewable and fossil-fuel industries [“Subsidy Shuffle,” June 2021]. I am happy to have some of my taxes subsidize the oil and gas industry. Otherwise, we could be like Germany, which has banned drilling for shale gas. Germans now pay more for electricity than Texans do. 
John Hoopingarner, Lakeway

Editors’ note: In “The Best and Worst Legislators” [July 2021], we stated that House Speaker Dennis Bonnen resigned soon after audio surfaced of him discussing other Republicans he’d like to see defeated. In fact, he announced a few months later, in October 2019, that he wouldn’t seek reelection in November 2020. In art type above the item about state representative Chris Paddie, we identified him with a “D” as a Democrat. He is a Republican.

In “The Next Battle of the Alamo!,” our June excerpt from the recent book Forget the Alamo, authors Chris Tomlinson, Bryan Burrough, and Jason Stanford stated that the General Land Office had agreed “to display [Phil Collins’s collection of Alamo antiques] in its entirety without authenticating every item” and that the GLO “promis[ed] to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a museum that would display every single one of them.”

Though these assertions were based on several statements that then–land commissioner Jerry Patterson and Collins made in public settings and private conversations, including an interview Patterson gave to the authors, Patterson now says that the authors’ assertions in their book and in our excerpt are false. He notes that the Deed of Gift that the GLO signed with Collins allows the GLO wide discretion on how it handles the Collins collection, including what will be exhibited.

Texas Monthly was not aware of the discretionary powers language in the deed until Patterson brought it to our attention. The online version of our excerpt now includes a reference to the Deed of Gift, along with references to public and private statements about what Patterson promised to Collins.