The Texas Historical Commission, which had declared itself “99.9 percent” certain about the authenticity of a letter purportedly written by Alamo hero Davy Crockett, is now backing off that contention.
State officials had announced the plan to purchase the letter last week for $550,000. But the commission retracted the statement Monday after several skeptics questioned the letter was for real.
It was presented as Crockett’s last, written Jan. 9, 1836, before he and about 200 other Alamo defenders were killed by Mexican forces led by Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. The letter was written to his children.
The $550,000 purchase from Simpson Galleries of Houston is conditioned on authentication within 120 days.
The commission’s executive director, F. Lawerence Oaks, said an assurance last week of near-certainty concerning the letter’s authenticity “was a misstatement” by a spokeswoman.
Skeptics emerged almost immediately. Rare-book dealers said facsimiles of the letter bear little resemblance to the frontiersman’s poor spelling, bad grammar and uneven penmanship.
The commission will seek experts skilled in forensics and other forms of historical document analysis, Oaks said, and the document will undergo tests to determine the age of the paper and the ink.