Alamo diary owners donate historic buy to UT-Austin
By Carmina Danini and Laura Tolley
Express-News Staff Writers
AUSTIN — With a background in mergers and acquisitions at a leading Wall
Street investment firm, former San Antonian Charles Tate knows a thing or two
about last-minute transactions.
That's why Tate moved quickly to bid on the memoirs of the battle of the
written in 1836 by Mexican army officer José Enrique de la Peña.
The papers, which are being donated to the Center for American History
University of Texas at Austin, were purchased by Tate and his partner, Thomas
O. Hicks, last month for $350,000 at auction in Los Angeles.
"We're delighted, needless to say," said Don E. Carleton, director of the
for American History. "It's a very valuable scholarly resource. It's one of the best
accounts of the Texas Revolution that we have."
De la Peña's eyewitness account of the fall of the Alamo, particularly
Crockett was taken prisoner and executed at the end of the battle, continues to
rile many who contend it is a forgery.
Tate, who now calls Houston home, is president of Hicks Muse Tate &
prominent investment firm based in Dallas that specializes in leveraged buyouts.
Hicks is chairman and chief executive officer of Hicks Muse and chairman
Capstar, the preeminent radio business in medium and small markets.
He also owns the Texas Rangers baseball team and Dallas Stars hockey team.
At a news conference Tuesday night on the UT campus, Tate recalled how
and Hicks were on a plane Nov. 18 bound for a business trip in Boston when
he happened to read a story about the auction later that same day.
The men phoned New York dealer Wendy Evans, who placed the winning bid
by phone a few hours later.
Tate, who wore custom-made boots bearing the outline of the Alamo at the
news conference, said he didn't want the manuscript to fall into the hands of
detractors and be destroyed.
"It was inconceivable to me that it might end up outside Texas," Tate said.
would have been a tragedy for all Texans."
"He (Tate) got really worked up about this," Hicks said. "I think we were
Tennessee when he said, 'By God, I think we ought to buy these things and give
them back to the University of Texas.' "
John Peace III, whose father purchased the diary in 1975 from the widow
the man who edited and published the papers in Mexico City in the 1950s,
lauded the decision to keep it in Texas.
"The Center is the ideal place for it," he said. "It has a real good record
publishing Spanish language documents and books concerning this area and
The de la Peña diary had been on loan to the library at the University
at San Antonio for more than 20 years until Peace decided to sell it this
Carleton said the diary occasionally will be placed on exhibit at UTSA.
That the diary will remain in a public archive also pleased James Crisp,
professor at North Carolina State University who has studied the document
extensively and believes it to be genuine.
"I'm glad that it's going to end up in such a reputable place like the
Prior to joining Hicks Muse in 1991, Tate spent 19 years at Morgan Stanley
Co., the last 2 1/2 years as managing director in its merchant banking
department and earlier in the mergers and acquisitions division.
A graduate of Alamo Heights High School, he received his BBA from the
University of Texas and his MBA from the Columbia Graduate School of
After graduating from the University of Texas, Hicks started the venture
division of Continental Illinois bank in Chicago. He received an MBA from the
University of Southern California.
In 1994, Hicks was appointed by Gov. Ann Richards to the University of
System Board of Regents.
Earlier this year, the father of six donated nine acres, valued at $400,000,
new school in Frisco, near Lewisville.