Treasure hunters dig for gold and silver supposedly buried under the Alamo.

Is there a treasure at the Alamo?

A treasure was buried in the wall

CASE DETAILS

“Remember the Alamo!” The famous battle cry was immortalized in history. But for some, the full story of the Alamo has yet to be told. Legend has it that in the shadow of the Alamo’s old mission, a treasure remains buried, a secret which dates back to 1836, the year of the famous battle. That January, a group of rugged frontiersmen made their way across southern Texas. By some accounts, they were loaded down with a fortune in silver and gold. It was called the “San Saba Treasure,” and it’s said to be worth millions of dollars.

Radar showed a possible treasure

The men, led by Colonel Jim Bowie, were headed for the Alamo. The treasure was intended to finance the Texas revolution for independence from Mexico. Two months later, Bowie and 188 other men, including Davy Crockett, made a courageous stand at the Alamo against 6,000 well-trained Mexican troops. Not one of the defenders survived to tell the tale, but the legend of the treasure lived on.

Professional fortune hunter and historical researcher Frank Buschbacher, along with a team of archaeologists and researchers, excavated the street in front of the Alamo. Frank first heard about the mysterious treasure at the Alamo during a trip to Mexico. There, he was introduced to Maria Gomez, a respected museum curator who also had a reputation as a psychic. Bushbacker says it was she who first informed him of the treasure:

“I’d never heard of any treasure surrounding the Battle of the Alamo. It was just a valiant battle that was lost. Then she went on to describe the treasure as gold coins, silver, religious artifacts is what she described them as.”

Frank spent 3½ years acquiring the permits

Frank was told that some of the treasure had been removed by Mexican soldiers, but that most of it still remained hidden at the Alamo. Maria would later draw him a map. The map claimed that the treasure would be found at the bottom of an old well. Even though Maria said she had never been to the Alamo, she had indicated the spot where a well was dug, just before the siege.

At the time, the chapel was located in the rear of the fort. The well was in the plaza, which was surrounded by 12-foot tall stone walls. It was within these walls that the Texans held out for a full thirteen days.  The defenders valiantly put down one advance after another, but in the end, 189 men could not hold off 6,000 Mexican soldiers. Frank believes that in a final desperate act, Jim Bowie ordered that the treasure be hidden at the bottom of the well:

“The only way they preserved was to all stick together and fight the battle out to whatever outcome it has.  This really is the first bank of Texas, the first cache of precious metals that would have bought them the arms and uniforms they needed. The reason it’s remained there is because everybody died.”

Frank believes that this treasure is located beneath the road in front of the chapel. But to many native Texans, his theory doesn’t hold up. Gail Loving Barnes of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas doesn’t believe in the treasure:

“The people of the Alamo, I don’t think they were guarding a treasure. When your life is on the line, like it was in the Battle with Juno Santiana, I don’t think you’re thinking about silver or gold bullion. I think you’re thinking about your life. And I don’t think you would be polluting your water well, because you don’t know how long your siege is going to be.”

A 15 x 15 foot area was excavated above the well

Despite the controversy, Frank was determined to prove his point.  He obtained permission to survey the area with ground penetrating radar, yielding some intriguing results. To their trained eyes, the radar display showed several irregularities beneath the surface. The largest, which Frank believed to be the site of the well, was in the exact location where Maria Gomez predicted the treasure would be found. Says Frank:

“It kind of brought all my research to fruition at that point, because I knew that with the map, her story, and then plugging it in to Texas history, that I was on a hot trail and any dissention that I had within my own mind about whether I should follow this any further was gone.” 

Gail Barnes has other theories:

“The anomalies could be caused by many things. I think it could be debris, equipment left by the Texans, I think it could be something several years later that was deposited there. You know, as time marches on, dust and dirt accumulate and cover very gradually, so that could be part of what they’re picking up out there.”

It took Frank three and a half years to acquire the necessary permits and financing to excavate the site. The Archaeology Department at St. Mary’s University agreed to oversee the project. For project director Thomas Guderjan, anything that turns up during the excavation will have historical value:

“Whether it’s treasure, as in gold and silver and that sort of thing, or whether it is materials that were thrown into the well during the battle, materials that were thrown into the well during the clean-up after the battle, it doesn’t make any difference to us what we’re looking at in a historical perspective. Whatever it is, it’s a time capsule.”

The plans called for excavating a 15 x 15 foot area directly above the well. A work crew needed to first remove three feet of flagstone and roadbed to reach the top of the filled-in well. Four feet beneath the surface of the courtyard, the team began to find artifacts … fragments of Native American pottery, the bones of butchered animals, and primitive cooking utensils. Each relic had to be carefully unearthed and properly catalogued. Even without the San Saba treasure, Guderjan’s excitement was obvious:

“While we haven’t been able to move as quickly as we originally intended to, the reason is because we found something no one expected to find here, and that’s intact 18th century materials.”

The items are a valuable treasure in themselves, rare artifacts that help piece together a history of the Alamo from the 1750’s right up to the final battle nearly a century later. One of the finds that most excited Guderjan was some ammunition used in canons, called grapeshot:

“We think it’s from the actual battle. We also have what looks like the headpiece to a Mexican soldier’s hat. This would signify his unit. And we found what may well be part of a saber from the battle.”

As the archaeologists inched closer and closer to the irregularities picked up by radar, the discoveries they‘d already made gave them hope. But optimism soon turned to disappointment: they found no sign of the treasure. Yet some remain convinced that the gold and silver still exists somewhere deep beneath the Alamo.  And for them, the search will continue.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season seven with Robert Stack and in season six with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

 

16 Comments

  1. Paul Reubens

    So, You mean to tell me that this is not about Pee-Wee’s bike???

    Reply

  2. Anonymous

    I believe we need to bulldoze the Alamo and find that treasure

    Reply

  3. Dan Morton

    What is the price of real freedom?22

    Reply

  4. El Indio Prieto

    The remains of a tunnel coming from the east side of the chapel going east towards hackberry street is an escape route built by the Indians (of course) for the clergy who would use it to escape overwhelming un friendly indian attacks. Much of it has caved in over the years but was told it existed in the basement of an old house which has since been torn down…. the exit had a iron gate ….. owner never wanted anyone to know…. hes deceased now and the house has been razed….

    Reply

  5. Mathew

    There’s so much controversy over this topic, does anyone still believe it’s real or not?

    Reply

  6. Carolyn

    If there was a treasure buried at the Alamo these people are never going to find it by digging up the street in front of the Alamo. According to things I have read, the Alamo has been moved twice. It is not currently sitting at the site where the battle was fought. So much for the so called psychic. And the historical researcher should do some more research.

    Reply

    • Justice for all

      As a native of San Antonio I think most of us would like to see it left alone. No more digging on the grounds. The gold if any was probably hidden under or near San Fernando Cathedral where the remains of Crocket, Travis, and Bowie were taken by surviving Alamo patriot Juan Seguin for burial. Thank God I grew up here with all this history.

      Reply

      • Crazy History Nut

        Hey, I totally agree!! Let people think of it as a utopian dream , but if it’s historical ground , that should mean hey , let it go ( its part of American history they should let it that way ) I wanted to reply because I live not far from Gettysburg Pa , they’re not allowed to to much to the battlefield anymore but now there’s talk of a Casino.., ugh !! On sacred grounds??? Good grief , why can’t they leave it alone!!

        Reply

  7. frankie

    It turn out that the medallion was a toy map

    Reply

  8. frankie

    I found a gold medalliean that as a map off the treasure of the Alimo having trouble endscryptioning it I need help so the myth is true
    Ing

    Reply

  9. Matt

    He was so close. I don’t know if I believe in the treasure, but I do believe in the underground chambers near the Alamo. From my research, he was close from finding these, but instead concentrated on the “bottom of the well” fools errand that follows the footsteps of Bruton’s Vault. To bad, especially with all the time taken to obtain permits and research.

    Reply

  10. Robert

    It is rumored that PeeWee Herman’s bicycle was hidden at the Alamo. coincidence? I don’t think so!

    Reply

  11. Robert

    It was rumored that PeeWee Herman’s bicycle was hidden at the Alamo. MYSTERIOUS!

    Reply

  12. Anonymous

    This Is most likely a myth. Treasure under the Alamo? When Santa Anna’s men took it, they would’ve scoured the Alamo.

    Reply

  13. Thomas

    Until the treasure IS found there is no proof of it

    Reply