Singer Phil Collins donates artifacts to the Alamo

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Remember the Alamo? Phil Collins sure does. In San Antonio Thursday he announced he's donating hundreds of historic artifacts related to the Alamo and the Texas Revolution.

The British rock-n-roll icon who sold more than 150 million solo albums and won seven Grammys is a life-long Texas history buff.

Collins, 63, says his fascination with the Alamo began as a child growing up in London at age 5 when he saw the Disney television series starring Fess Parker, "Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier."

Collins told an enthusiastic crowd in Alamo Plaza Thursday that he hopes the collection will help visitors better understand the story of the 13-day siege.

"The history taught by Walt Disney and John Wayne is not the entire story. There were brave men on both sides of that wall as we all know and this collection would help tell that story," Collins told the crowd.

Over the last 25 years, Collins has accumulating the world's largest personal collection of historic Texas Revolutionary items. He's kept them at his home in Switzerland, but they'll begin arriving at their new home in the Alamo Museum next October.

Collins had three artifacts from the collection with him Thursday: a sword that was carried by Jim Bowie, co-commander of the garrison; a second sword believed to have belonged to a Tejano defender, and a bone-handled knife taken from one of the slain Texans by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's private secretary, Ramon Martinez Caro.

"You hold the knife, and you think, my God, this actually is the thing. This isn't a movie prop," Collins told Local 2 News.

Collins has said he owns "hundreds" of cannonballs, documents and other artifacts from the Alamo, with his most prized item being a receipt signed by Alamo commander William Barret Travis for 32 head of cattle used to feed the Alamo defenders.

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson negotiated the agreement to bring Collins' collection to the historic shrine. He says there currently isn't room at the shrine to display the entire Collins collection, but the Land Office is working on plans to add space for the exhibit and to build a visitor's center.

Patterson says the public's enduring interest with the Alamo stems from the defender's decision to stay and fight in spite of overwhelming odds.

"They were 200 people who had a chance to leave, and did not. That's pretty impressive," Patterson said.

As for Collins, he says he doesn't plan to stop collecting historic Texas artifacts and that those future acquisitions will also go to the Alamo museum.

"After I've lived with whatever I buy for a month, I'll be shipping it over here," Collins said. "I wouldn't be so happy if it were going someplace else. The Alamo is perfect."

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