Do the Ghosts of the Alamo Pay Taxes?

If you ask around the town of San Antonio about ghosts in the Alamo you'll get lots of different answers.

"Oh, sure there's ghosts, everybody knows that."

"Ghosts? That's just something people say to get tourists here."

"The only ghosts are the spirits of our heroes who died defending Texas."

"Maybe.... I mean I heard people talk about them."

Do the spirits of the dead haunt the Alamo?

But beyond the rumor and innuendo there's a deeper truth. Hidden behind years of bureaucratic red tape there may be documents that prove the city government has acknowledged there are ghosts in the Alamo. These documents may also prove that in the 1930's the city tried to rid the number one tourist attraction of Texas of it's ghosts by holding a government approved séance!

Davy Crockett was just one of the men who met a violent death at the Alamo.

Rumors of ghosts and spirits haunting the Alamo begin almost as soon as the Mexican army overcame the defenders. A Mexican General named Andrade was the first person to say he had seen something. A few years after Santa Ana overcame the defenders of the outpost he ordered Andrade to destroy the chapel. Andrade later reported to his leader that he had tried but had been met at the Alamo's walls by "fiery demons" who brandished swords and told him to depart. Some have speculated that these apparitions were the spirits of dead monks while others insist that it was the ghosts of Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett and others who died in the Alamo's defense. Either way, Andrade refused the order and left the Alamo standing.

In later years other people have seen ghostly figures walking upon the ramparts of the stone wall or even spirit lights that play upon the outside of the chapel. In 1932 San Antonio Mayor Dermont Callohan was walking past the Alamo on a summer night when he reported seeing something. He talked about what he saw to his friend Judge Raymond Simkins who described the meeting in his autobiography "San Antonio Sunset"

San Antonio Mayor Dermont Callohan may have seen spirits.

"Mayor Callohan came to my chambers one morning in June with a most peculiar look upon his face. When I asked about his condition he said that while on his nightly constitutional he had found himself walking around the Alamo and had noticed a strange series of light and shadows that played off the rocky walls. Drawing closer to inspect the source of this display he said he found himself surrounded on all sides by the noise of a loathsome battle. Having served with Callohan in the Great War I knew that he was not one to mistake the sounds of such an event and I asked him to clarify. Were the sounds such as the ones we heard while in France? Callohan nodded but then said that the guns sounded louder and less frequently and while he wasn't sure he suspected that several great booms he had heard was of a cannon. The sounds, Callohan stated, continued for several seconds before ceasing altogether and leaving no clue as to their source. I gathered the distinct impression that he believed these noises to be after-images of the great and historic battle, which took place at our beloved Alamo and not a fantasy in his head. The matter troubled him dearly."

But did the Mayor and Judge Simkins take it upon themselves to investigate the noises further? Evidence suggests they did. An article in the June 19th 1932 edition of the San Antonio Star newspaper has this peculiar report hidden on page 2 of it's local section.


"Mayor Callohan met with governmental officials from Houston last night on the grounds of the Alamo. Callohan stated that the meeting was an informal one and no notes were kept although the subject was one of creating tighter bonds with our sister city. 'I meet with a group from Houston in the hopes of strengthening our ties with our neighboring metropolis. San Antonio is becoming one of the top destinations in travel to our fine state and it is my desire that this idea be fostered and allowed to grow with the correct application of funds and services. I suggested the meeting with some top officials in Houston's tourism trade in hopes of getting ideas and direction from them.' When asked why the meeting took place at night and inside the Alamo instead of in a city building the Mayor replied, "The Alamo is our single biggest boon to our fledgling tourism trade and I thought that meeting in it was a direct way to show off our product.' Also present at the meeting was Judge Ray Simkins. Refreshments were served my Judge Simkin's wife, Eva Lyn."

But after doing a little research I've uncovered some interesting facts concerning this meeting. The tourism board of Houston operated under the city parks and recreation division in 1932. The board at that time consisted of only 2 people; Mrs. Tara Apenton, a local socialite, and Mr. Jim Keller. No records exist of any such meeting between the two groups. In fact, Keller was suffering from an advanced cancer and his title of senior board member was an honorary one, given to him by a Houston city councilman in order for his wife to collect benefits after his death. Mrs. Apenton was known in Houston for her love of roses and for holding large socialite parties for the upper crust. The only record I could find of her using her title on the tourism board was in 1931 when she applied for a grant from Washington DC to plant the city roadsides with flowers in an "effort to relieve the city of it's ugly style toward concrete, brick, and metal." By any accounts she was not a driving force for tourism.

So who then did the Mayor meet with on that night in June? Judge Simkins autobiography doesn't give a clue but after looking through old records in San Antonio I may have found a hint. At the time there was a fledging Spanish language newspaper in the city known as "El Diario." The paper folded in 1943 because of a paper shortage caused by World War II but archives of it exist at the downtown San Antonio library. Searching through it I came across an advertisement placed there on June 23rd, 1932, only 4 days after the Mayor held his semi-secret "meeting."

"Notice of Wonderment!

Notice is hereby given that Mexican medium and spiritualist extraordinaire Rosalie Vasquez is holding sessions at the Diaz hotel for one week only. The public and those with burning questions involving bygone spirits of the deceased are invited to make reservations for ceremonies on the nights of the 25th thru 28th. Sister Vasquez is highly trained in the arts of the spiritual world and can give you answers to questions that have plagued you about the great beyond. Call the Hotel Diaz or come by to make an appointment."

Spiritualist Rosalie Vasquez shortly before her death in 1951.

Rosalie Vasquez was indeed one of the top stars of the Mexican spiritualist movement and her appearance in town would surely have caused quite a stir among those that took stock in her trade. But what was she doing in San Antonio? Her normal residence was in Monterrey Mexico and by any accounts she did enough business there to afford to live as one of the upper class. There was no need for her to come to the states at all unless someone had called her and made an "offer she couldn't refuse." But would Mayor Simkins or the Judge feel the need to call a spiritualist to San Antonio to deal with the spirits of the departed heroes of the Alamo?

A final clue may lie with Judge Simkin's wife Eva Lyn who was at the meeting inside the Alamo according to the newspaper report. Eva Lyn had in her employ a servant girl named Maria Lopez. By local accounts in social columns of the times, Maria was a valuable employee and even accompanied the Simkin's on their travels across the state. An interesting fact is that Maria was originally from Monterrey. Since Rosalie Vasquez came into prominence as a spiritualist during the 1920's when Maria was still living in Monterrey it's quite possible that she was the one that informed the Judge about her. Certainly it's not implausible.

Judge Simpkins and his wife Eva Lyn. Did they sponsor a séance on the Alamo grounds?

So is Maria the smoking gun that connects all the pieces and proves the claim that the Judge and Mayor of San Antonio performed a séance inside the Alamo? I can't say for sure but something went on inside that old chapel on that night in June of 1932. Something other than what the Mayor told the public. Any further evidence may be locked up inside the San Antonio city courthouse and until the city government agrees to open the old files that's where it's going to stay.


"Ghosts of the Alamo" by Daniel Wasert, 1994 Hughes Publishing Corp.

"Sunsets of San Antonio" by Ray Simkins, 1946 Terra Press

Selected back issues of the San Antonio Star newspaper 1930 thru 1934

Selected back issues of the San Antonio El Diario newspaper 1932

Houston Texas City Governmental Appointee records of 1932

"Great 20th Century Spiritualists" by Howard Bergerman, 1989 Pewter Book Pub.

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