Collectors' Gallery: The Nesmith Collection

Collections from private collectors in Texas

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Private collectors are integral to the preservation of history. Their dedication to collecting historical maps, documents, artifacts, and works of art ensures that the material evidence of the past is safeguarded for future generations. The Collectors' Gallery showcases the passion behind privately owned collections in Texas, featuring some of the finest treasures in the state.

The Texas Museum of Military History Collection is owned by Sam Nesmith of San Antonio, Texas, and consists of objects related to military history from around the world. It includes uniforms, headgear,  edged weapons, firearms, medieval armor, books, patches, and other insignia.

When Mr. Nesmith was 14 years old, an opportunity to collect objects related to the German military put Nesmith on the path to becoming a military historian and collector. Today, the oldest object in the collection is a Babylonian dagger made 5,500 years ago. His personal favorites, much of which he has chosen to display at the Bullock Museum, are the British uniforms, objects related to the U.S. Indian Scouts, and items that belonged to Pvt. Charles Pelham of the 8th Texas Cavalry.

Mr. Nesmith turned his early desire to preserve the past into a lifelong passion and career. He studied archaeology and anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin, focusing on military history. For the last 60 years, he has been a curator and researcher, working at the Texas Memorial Museum, the Alamo, and the Institute of Texan Cultures before becoming the director and curator of the Texas Museum of Military History. Mr. Nesmith has also worked on archaeological projects with the University of Texas at San Antonio and the Center of Archaeological Research, including seven excavations at Alamo Plaza. In addition, he's authored or co-authored numerous publications and books on Texas and Spanish Colonial era archaeology and history.

Select Artifacts On View in the Exhibition


Support for the Bullock Museum's exhibitions and education programs is provided by the Texas State History Museum Foundation.