It's not the only one. It's just the most famous.
Part of a series of six missions, the mission most commonly known as the Alamo was constructed in 1718 by Fray Antonio de Buenaventura y Olivares. In 1709, he is noted to have participated in an extensive canvassing of the area now known as San Antonio, and, convinced of the fruitful prospects in the region, he returned to Spain to convince his financial backers to fund a mission settlement there.
The original name of the mission was Mision de San Antonio de Valero. In the 1800s, Spanish soldiers began calling the fortress Alamo de Parras, in honor of a Mexican town. In 1821, Stephen Austin arrived with 300 families who have been given permission to settle in the area. Game on.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Dude was a justice of the peace and two-time congressman. However, Davy did not fit with Washington, and his famous quote was, "You can all go to hell, and I am going to Texas."
Interestingly, Davy objected to the removal of Native Americans from their lands and clashed with President Jackson over the issue. Right after losing a bid for re-election in 1835, Davy made good on his word and traveled to Texas. Seemingly right in tune with the way his life was going at that point, he ended up at the Alamo just as it came under attack.
Someday, someone is going to name a knife after me.
In his early days, Jim Bowie was a Louisiana badass who hard-core lived in the bayou and "floated timber to market." Sounds dangerous. He also trapped bears, alligators, and chummed with a pirate named Jean Lafite.
It seems shocking that someone who spent so much time literally and figuratively on the fringes of society, living in the woods, would not have a clear grasp of the ins and outs of the financial markets, but in a jaw dropping twist of fate, that seemed to be the case when Bowie is denied a loan in 1829 by a man named Norris Wright. Bowie's brother gave him a large knife. You see where this is going.
In a completely rational, calculated way, Bowie freaked the hell out on Wright and attacked him on a sandbar. Observers in Rain-Man fashion repeated "that big knife" to the effect that Bowie and the knife became paired in linguistic history.
Bowie was also present at the battle of the Alamo, but is noted to have been bedridden in the final days. Speculation on the cause of his illness range from yellow fever, to typhoid, to TB, to a pulmonary embolism. Bowie had been ill with yellow fever previously and this may have predisposed him to illness when the fort came under siege, and food was limited.
In 1810, Santa Anna was a 16-year-old in the army. In some ways, this is where the story of the Alamo began. Some historians believe that the early, brutal executions he witnessed as an impressionable teen were the ones he reproduced when he captured the Alamo, out of what he termed "disrespect" from the scant survivors he encountered when he captured the fort.
His march "Nortes" was the result of his perception of the defiance of the white settlers' disobedience and refusal to pay taxes. Their beef with him was that he was slowly consolidating power by abolishing the Mexican Constitution and disbanding the legislature.
The Alamo Then and Now
In a 13-day siege from February 23 to March 6, 1836, General de Lopez de Santa Anna mercilessly sieged the Alamo compound. One day in, William Travis realized how far up a creek composed of excrement he and his compadres really were and tried to send for reinforcements:
"I shall never surrender or retreat.
Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism, and everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid with all dispatch... VICTORY OR DEATH"
Well, we know how it all turned out.
Today, the Alamo remains the most visited site in the state of Texas. Open 9 AM to 7 PM during peak season, this 300-year-old, five-acre mission is a reminder of the daring Texas spirit.