Old graffiti at Alamo intrigues curators

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SAN ANTONIO — Alamo officials have discovered a clue to the building's mysterious past, right over the doorway some 3 million visitors pass through each year.

Experts believe "1802" might have been scratched into the wall when the Alamo was a mission under Spanish rule, or perhaps decades later, after the U.S. Army added a second floor and roof in the mid-1800s.

Or, as Alamo historian and curator Bruce Winders suggests, it could have been left by an Alamo defender who kept watch from a ledge by a window during the 1836 siege and decided to mark the year of his birth.

More than likely, it's evidence of a little-known period between 1793, when Mission San Antonio de Valero was secularized, and 1803, when Spanish troops began to occupy the former mission that later would be known as the Alamo, Winders said.

"If you look at historic graffiti at face value, people usually put the date when they did it," he said. "Americans at that time were kind of notorious for leaving behind something that says, 'I was here.' "...

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