SAN ANTONIO (CN) - Land Commissioner George P. Bush is illegally trying to seize a 38,000-piece collection of Alamo memorabilia the Daughters of the Republic of Texas collected over a century, the Daughters claim in court.
Adding outrage to insult, the Daughters of the Republic say, Bush warned them that San Antonio police would institute "special patrols" around the Daughters' library and museum, "apparently believing the DRT would attempt to remove its Library Collection to another location."
George P. Bush was elected Texas land commissioner in November 2014. He is the eldest son of former Florida governor, and undeclared 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush.
George P. Bush declared in March, two months after he took office, that his office would take control of the Daughters of the Republic's enormous library, museum and memorabilia collection within 120 days.
The Daughters of the Republic call it an "unlawful attempt to take the organization's private property," in their March 23 lawsuit in Bexar County Court.
In the lawsuit, the Daughters of the Republic call themselves "an extraordinarily significant organization of women, unfailingly loyal to Texas."
They claim that in 1905, they "saved the Alamo from almost certain destruction by purchasing the Alamo for the State of Texas." For the next 110 years, the Daughters say, they "tirelessly and selflessly served the state as the caretaker of the Alamo."
They have preserved and maintained the Alamo's library collection - near the Alamo - since the 1940s. Renamed the Alamo Research Center, it is free and open to researchers and the public.
Its 38,000 items include a map drawn by Stephen F. Austin in 1827, other maps, flags, books and Texas artifacts, including 1,000 artworks and 200 pieces of sheet music about the Alamo, San Antonio and Texas.
Also included in the collection are Davy Crockett's shot pouch and rifle and Jim Bowie's knife: those artifacts, however, were added in a separate deal the musician Phil Collins cut with the Land Office last year.
Bush chairs the newly formed Alamo Endowment Board, which is raising money to build an upgraded Alamo Visitor's Center to house Collins' collection.
The Daughters of the Republic were astonished when Bush notified them on March 12 that he would "transition the DRT's private Library Collection to the State of Texas."
"In alarming fashion, the defendants have now unilaterally declared that Texas is the rightful owner of the DRT's Library Collection," the Daughters say in the complaint.
"This attempt by the defendants to illegally claim ownership of the DRT's Library Collection is an unconstitutional taking by the state of private property."
The Daughters of the Republic say "created the DRT Library Collection, grew the collection, maintained the collection, and has had possession of the collection since it was created. Moreover, the vast majority of the donors who have gifted items to the collection over the past 70 years were well aware that they were entrusting their special Texas icons to the DRT, and not to the state, at the time of their gift."
The Daughters, a nonprofit, claim Bush's Land Office also ordered the library to be closed on weekends except for one Saturday a month.
To top it off, the land office then warned the Daughters of the Republic "that the San Antonio Police Department would begin making 'special patrols' around the DRT Library premises, apparently believing the DRT would attempt to remove its Library Collection to another location."
"The DRT consequently faces the threat that it will find a padlock placed on the door barring access to its collection, contrary to the defendants' public promise that the DRT would always have a special place of honor at the Alamo," the complaint states. Bush spokesman Jim Suydam said the General Land Office does not comment on pending litigation but will "respond in court as is appropriate."
The Daughter's attorney Lamont Jefferson said the group has tried for months to resolve differences with the state over ownership and management of the library collection.
"The recent actions by the state, which occurred suddenly and without the opportunity for meaningful dialogue, left the DRT with no alternative but to file this lawsuit," Lamont said in a statement.
"However, we hope that the suit will form the basis for a dialogue that leads to a just resolution for all involved, including the DRT and its donors and patrons."
The Daughters of the Republic seek declaratory judgment that it owns the historic items and artifacts comprising in library collection.
In related Alamo news, the Texas Legislature in March named musician Phil Collins an honorary Texan in appreciation of his 2014 donation of his collection of Alamo and Texas Revolution-related artifacts, which included Davy Crockett's rifle and Jim Bowie's knife.
British-born Collins, 64, donated the artifacts to the Alamo after penning a deal with the land office. His deal came under the direction of former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.
Texas was a republic from 1836 until 1846, when the United States annexed it.
Among those who died at the Alamo were Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and Col. William Travis.
Crockett, a one-term congressman from Tennessee, declined to seek a second term, preferring to defend the republic against Mexico.
In his farewell to Congress, the legendary bear hunter is said to have invited his fellow congressmen to join the battle. When they did not, he allegedly said, "You all can go to hell. I'm going to Texas."