What Died With The Angel Of The Alamo?
Remember The Alamo?
The famous rallying cry during the Texas Revolution in 1836 was “Remember the Alamo!” Seems the city of San Antonio forgot. They wanted, seventy-two years later, to turn the Alamo into a parking lot.
The self-appointed Mexican dictator Santa Anna had been ruthless at the Alamo. He killed Davey Crockett, Jim Bowie, William Travis, James Bonham, and some 200 other brave men fighting for Texas’ independence. The last stand against the Mexican forces was at San Jacinto (near present-day Houston). The Texan General Sam Houston and his men had been retreating eastward toward Louisiana as were all the fleeing American Texans along with the supportive Tejanos (The local Mexicans who supported the revolution). Among the evacuees were the would-be Republic of Texas officials including Vice President Lorenzo De Zavala and his wife Emily West De Zavala. Meanwhile, overwhelmingly out numbered, Sam Houston surprisingly defeated Santa Anna at San Jacinto. The victory gained Texas her independence.
Interim Republic of Texas Vice President Lorenzo De Zavala and his wife Emily West are little known outside of Texas even though they were instrumental in the formation of the republic. Lately, some historians have come to believe that Emily West was the legendary “Yellow Rose of Texas”.
Early Texas Heroes: Lorenzo de Zavala, Vice President of the Republic of Texas
- Early Texas Heroes: Lorenzo de Zavala, Vice President of the Republic of Texas
Lorenzo De Zavala, the first Vice President of the Republic of Texas, is a little known Texas hero who played a key role in the fight for Texas Independence.
Who was the “The Angel of the Alamo”?
The De Zavala homestead was a stone’s throw away from the San Jacinto Battlefield on Buffalo Bayou. Unfortunately, Vice President Lorenzo De Zavala only 46 years old died shortly after after the fight (He had been in failing health before the battle). This famous quote is attributed to him, “If I knew my death would assure the liberation of Texas, I would not live another hour.” If he had lived, today’s Texas might have been decidedly different. His wife Emily West De Zavala lived another forty-six years. Augustine De Zavala, eldest son of Lorenzo, had a daughter. Her name was Adina De Zavala. Adina De Zavala is “The Angel of the Alamo.”
Denise McVea’s “Making Myth of Emily” Creates a Texas-Sized Stir
Author Denise McVea has written a captivating study entitled “Making Myth of Emily” dealing with the legendary Yellow Rose of Texas. Her conjectural theme in the book is that the Vice President’s wife, Emily West De Zavala, was actually the mythic Yellow Rose. For those of you who do not know, the legend possibly explains how Sam Houston was able to defeat Santa Anna with such a small ragtag group of fighters. McVea’s intriguing theory is that the beautiful and possibly mulatto Emily West De Zavala distracted Santa Anna in his tent the morning of Sam Houston’s attack. There were reports Santa Anna was seen scurrying out of his tent pulling up his pants.
There’s more…Denise McVea contends there was a racial aspect to the legend and supposedly Adina De Zavala, being the Zavala family’s keeper of documents, altered and/or destroyed some important papers hinting at Emily’s racial makeup. Denise McVea convincingly pieces together the well-thought-out theory. True or not, the book has caused a Texas-sized sensation.
Adina De Zavala the Preservationist Extraordinaire
Emily West De Zavala told her granddaughter intimate stories of the important part their family played in Texas history. Because of this personal familial connection Adina grew up very possessive about these memories. It is feasible that she might have betrayed the truth to protect her family’s reputation. Adina described herself as "...a jealous lover of Texas history."
Racial prejudice is ugly but it’s necessary we view this issue, justly or not, in the way it was perceived in those days.
Adina will always be remembered for her efforts in preserving Texas Missions, the placing of plaques, and persuading the powers that be to name schools after historical Texas heroes. The Texas Legislature posthumously honored Adina with a resolution to her life devoted "...to Texas history, folklore,and general civic and patriotic work...immortalizing Texas history for the ages."
Adina De Zavala died on May 1st, 1955.
Her casket was carried in front of the Alamo as a fitting tribute to her work in preserving the landmark.
The Second Alamo Siege (Adina Barricades Herself In the Alamo!)
On February 10th through the 13th, 1908 Adina made national headlines in all the newspapers. She became a folkloric American hero by barricading herself in the Alamo. The future of the Alamo was in peril because an important area (the long barracks) of the complex was on the verge of being torn down to make way for a proposed part of a plaza (quite possibly a parking lot). Adina was convinced the long barracks was the area of the Alamo where the main fighting occurred. The distracters at the time believed she was wrong. They thought the long barracks was built after the famous battle. Adina De Zavala was later proven right.
The standoff lasted three days and, for a period of time, she had no food, water or electricity. Forty-six year old Adina was quoted as saying she would die for the cause. (It’s interesting that her grandfather died at 46 years old having said the words “If I knew my death..." (read above). On February 13th, 1908 the headlines in the New York Times said, “Alamo Siege Ended”. Soon after, Adina acquired the name “The Angel of The Alamo”. She was so admired for saving the long barracks that a music company published a song called “Remember the Alamo” with her picture right there on the front.
Fact or Fiction?
Whether or not Adina De Zavala deliberately altered her famous ancestors’ documents is a genuine Texas mystery. Her legacy of preserving The Alamo and other Texas Landmarks is intact no matter the allegations.
Perhaps we may never know what really died with "the Angel of The Alamo".