SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
© 1997-2005, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved
La Bahia-Index |
|......I consider it not
inappropriate here to mention one female, Pacheta Alevesco; the wife of Captain A. She was
indeed an angel of mercy---a second Pocahontas. All that she could do to administer to our
comfort, "-to pour oil into our wounds," was done. She had, likewise been to
Major Miller and men, a "ministering angel."---Dr. Jack Shackelford, Survivor Goliad Massacre
....Of this angelic lady, whose
memory should be sacred in every Texian heart, and whose name should be perpetuated in a
Texas county before it is too late.---John Henry Brown 1892
The Angel of Goliad
Diverse Eyewitnesses--Harbert Davenport
| With Father Molloy at Goliad | Descendants Alive
& Well in Texas
Multiple survivor accounts of the Massacre at Goliad mention with
honor and reverence and credit their survival to a Mexican lady immortalized with the term
"The Angel of Goliad" in the extensive accounts of the events surrounding the
massacre by Dr. Joseph Barnard and Dr. John Shackelford. Historical accounts refer to the
"Angel of Goliad" as a lady of Mexican birth named Francita, Francisca,
Panchita, or Pancheta/Panchita with surname Alavez, Alvarez, or Alevesco. She is often
referred to as the wife of Captain Telesforo Alavéz who was commander of Mexican
Centralista forces in the Copano and Victoria region under Gen. José de Urrea's command
until May 14 when the army retreated south to Matamoros after defeat at San Jacinto.
Mexican archives show that Captain Alavéz in December 31, 1837 was 34 years of age,
married, and a resident of Toluca. The archives show that his legitimate wife at that time
was Maria Augustina de Pozo, also of Toluca, whom he had abandoned in 1834. She and her
brother wrote several letters, 1836-1837, to the minister of war, asking for money for her
support. Augustina had two small children at the time. Various accounts place Francita
Alavéz with the movements of Captain Alavéz in carrying out his assignments at Copano
Bay, Goliad, Victoria and Matamoros where she aided Texian prisoners at all locations.
Numerous accounts, including that in the current Handbook of Texas, relate that
Señora Alavéz returned to Mexico City with the Captain and was there abandoned by him
upon which she returned to Matamoros penniless where she was aided by Texians who knew of
her humanitarian efforts. From there she is said to have disappeared from the history
THE ANGEL OF GOLIAD
By Harbert Davenport ca. 1950
History tells no finer story than that of the "Angel of
Goliad", the Mexican lady whose merciful heart, unyielding courage, and almost
unbelievable exertions induced Urrea's officers to evade, and partially disobey, Santa
Ana's orders to shoot all prisoners, and to mitigate the rigors of the prisoners' lot. In
the words of Dr. Joseph H. Barnard,
one of the beneficiaries of her mercies: [Linn: Reminiscences of Fifty Years in Texas,
"I must not here omit the mention of Senora Alvarez, whose name
ought to be perpetuated to the latest times for her virtues, and whose action contrasted
so strangely with that of her countrymen, and deserves to be recorded in the annals of
this country and treasured in the heart of every Texan. When she arrived at Copano with
her husband, who was one of Urrea's officers, Miller and his men had just been taken
prisoners. They were tightly bound with cords, so as to completely stop the circulation of
blood in their arms, and in this state had been left several hours when she saw them. Her
heart was touched at the sight, and she immediately caused the cords to be removed and
refreshments furnished them. She treated them with great kindness, and when, on the
morning of the massacre she learned that the prisoners were to be shot, she so effectually
pleaded with Colonel Garay (whose humane feelings so revolted at the order) that with
great personal responsibility to himself, and at great hazards at thus going counter to
the orders of the then all-powerful Santa Ana, resolved to save all that he could; and a
few of us, in consequence, were left to tell of that bloody day.
"Besides those that Colonel Garay saved, she saved others by her
connivance with some of the officers, who had gone into the fort at night and taken out
some whom she had kept concealed until after the massacre. When she saw Dr. Shackelford, a
few days after, she burst into tears and exclaimed, 'Why did I not know that you had a son
here? I would have saved him at all hazards!' * * ' It must be remembered that when she
came to Texas she could have considered its people only as rebels and heretics, the two
classes, of all others, most odious to the mind of a pious Mexican. And yet, after
everything that had occurred to present the Texans to her view as the worst and most
abandoned of men, she became incessantly engaged in contributing to their wants and in
saving their lives. Her name deserves to be recorded in letters of gold among the angels
who have from time to time been commissioned by an overruling and beneficient power to
relieve the sorrow and cheer the hearts Of men; and who have, for that purpose, been given
the form of helpless women."
And John Henry Brown, who, in his youth, had known many of the
recipients of her bounty, wrote, fifty years later, [Brown: History of Texas I - 54 ]
"of this angelic lady, whose memory should be sacred in every
Texan heart, and whose name should be perpetuated in a Texan county before it is too
Though four generations of Texans have delighted to praise her, they
have been singularly incurious as to her name, personality, and subsequent fate. She came
into Texas with Urrea's army and was swept out again with the Mexican retreat from San
Jacinto. From March through May of the year of Texan independence her virtues shone
resplendently against the grim cruelty of Santa Anna; and then, insofar as Texas and
Texans were concerned, she stepped gently out of their hearts and lives. Not even the
beneficiaries of her mercies took the trouble to learn, or, at least they failed to
record, her name.
To Reuben R. Brown,
whose life she saved at San Patricio, and who was again to share her mercies as a
"Prisoner of Matamoros," she was "a Mexican lady named Alvarez."
To Dr. Jack Shackelford,
whom she befriended in his darkest hour, and who first proclaimed her virtues to the
world, she was "Pacheta Alevesco, wife of Captain A."
To Dr. Joseph H. Barnard,
to whom we are mainly indebted for the little we know concerning her, she was
"Señora Alvarez * - * [who] arrived at the Copano with her husband [who was one of
To Benjamin F. Hughes,
lad of fifteen, whom she saved on that fatal Palm Sunday at Goliad, she was "a young
lady, Madame Captain Alvarez, evidently of distinction."
Other Texans who owed her their lives knew her only as "the wife
of a Mexican officer."
John Henry Brown urged, fifty years since, that a Texan county---be
named for her, but that was not to be, since no one knew then, and none knows now, what
name she bore.
She was known to the Texans whom she saved as the wife of Captain
Telesforo Alavéz, Captain of the 6th Company of Urrea's own cavalry regiment of Cuautla;
who served as Paymaster of the forces in Urrea's Texan campaign. But we know, too, that
the wife of Captain Telesforo Alavéz was Maria Agustina de Pozo, native and resident of
Toluca. But if the Angel's name was Agustina, why did Dr. Shackelford call her
"Pacheta Alevesco," which could only have been his rendering of Panchita
But we had best allow Texans who knew her, and whose benefactress she
was, to tell their own stories.
The first published reference to our Mexican Angel of Mercy was in Dr.
Jack Shackelford's account of his experience at Goliad, reprinted, in 1841, in Foote's
Texas and Texans, Vol. II, p. 245. Doctor Shackelford said:
"I consider it not inappropriate here to mention one female,
Pacheta Alevesco, the wife of Captain A. She was indeed an Angel of Mercy -- a second
Pocahontas. All that she could do to administer to our comfort -- to "pour oil into
our wounds' - was done. She had likewise been to Maj. Miller and men, a ministering
The italics for her name are Doctor Shackelford's.
For a better understanding of the events of Urrea's Texas campaign, and
our Angel's part in it, it should be borne in mind that Urrea left Matamoros February 18,
1836, with about half of the forces at his disposal, and hurried to San Patricio by forced
marches; beating Johnson in detail at and near San Patricio, February 27, and Grant at
Agua Dulce on March 2. The Portion of his forces left at Matamoros -- with the army's
baggage and camp followers -- joined him at San Patricio, on March 7. On the 12th, in
disregard of Santa Anna's repeated orders to shoot all prisoners taken in arms, he
remitted to Matamoros twenty-one prisoners taken with Grant and Johnson. Their story
becomes pertinent here:
Among the twenty-one thus spared was Reuben
R. Brown, a Georgian, who became, in later years, a colonel in the
Confederate Army, and a wealthy planter at Brazoria. In an account of his early Texas
adventures, first published in the Texas Almanac for 1858 (See also Barker & Johnson,
History of Texas, Vol. 1, p. 124) Brown explained why he was not shot at that time:
"Urrea * said that I would have to be executed according to Santa
Anna's orders * * * was * * taken out to be shot, but was spared through the intervention
of a priest, and a Mexican lady named Alvarez * * * I was then marched with other
prisoners to Matamoros."
On March 13, 1836, Urrea moved against King
and Ward at Refugio, leaving behind his baggage and camp followers at San Patricio. He
fought Ward and King on the 14th; occupied the old Mission on the morning of the 15th;
executed King and other prisoners on the 16th; joined Morales before Goliad on the 17th;
fought Fannin on the 19th, and received his surrender on the 20th; occupied Victoria on
the 21st; and captured Ward and his men on the Garcitas on the 22nd. On the 23rd, Major
William P. Miller and his men were taken by Colonel Vara at Copano. This was the only
action of the Texas Campaign in which Captain Telesforo Alavéz had a part, and here the
"Angel" again appeared.
On March 25th, Urrea, still at Victoria, sent Ward and his men to
Goliad to join the other Fannin prisoners. A direct order from Santa Anna for their
execution was received there by Portilla, on the 26th, and he executed it next day. Her
heroic part in the Goliad tragedy has been told by Dr. Barnard.
In a note Doctor Barnard adds:
"During the time of the massacre she stood in the street, her hair
floating, speaking wildly, and abusing the Mexican officers, especially Portilla. She
appeared almost frantic."
Among those at Goliad who were saved by her
intervention was Benjamin Franklin Hughes, Captain Horton's young orderly, then a lad of
fifteen years. [He was born in Jefferson County, Kentucky, September 8, 1820] Hughes, in
his old age, wrote an account of his experiences which is preserved among the Philip C.
Tucker Papers in the Library of the University of Texas. With slight corrections as to
spelling and punctuation, his Goliad reminiscences read:
"The 27th of March, Sunday morning, came and with it an order from
the president, General Santa Anna, to shoot us all. We were called out and told to hurry
up and get in line to march to a place of embarcation, and we got into line rather hopping
and skipping with joy at the thought of soon being home. We were just about starting, when
I saw quite a number of ladies standing where we had to march by, and two, who afterward
proved to be Lady General Urrea and a young lady, Madame Captain Alvarez were evidently
ladies of distinction. These, with a little girl ten or eleven years old were standing in
a group with Colonel Holsinger, who seemed to be officiating in the execution of the order
for execution, and as we stepped off the young lady spoke to her aunt, the general's wife,
and then the elder spoke to the Colonel, and a Sergeant or corporal came and took me out
of the ranks and stood me between the two ladies with the little girl, and the rest
marched off. In the space of maybe five minutes they were halted and the Mexicans were so
arranged as to place our men in a cross fire, and the instant of the halt the order was
given to fire, and then I saw for the first time why I was taken from the ranks, and I
nudged up to the ladies, and immediately after some of the Mexicans came running back and
menacing me with their muskets with bayonets, as if they had bayoneted all who were not
killed out right -which they did, and even those who were killed were stuck through with
the bayonet rather by way of sport and such was the fate of 332 poor fellows that a few
hours before were building high air castles, all to fall suddenly in a few hours with all
their plans. Col. Holsinger seemed to be in command, as General Urrea was, it seems, under
suspension from duty for not executing the order of General Santa Anna, but the Colonel
seemed pleased at the ladies taking me in charge.and was very kind to me, and said he
would, and I think he did, do all in his power for me; and the madame wanted me to be one
of the family and treated me as a mother, but two or three days passed, and a few
companies started on a line of march for Matamoros, and somehow the Colonel had orders to
send me to Matamoros, and I was to be taken from the ladies. I was told the understanding
was that Madame Urrea was to have me when I got to Matamoros and Colonel Holsinger made
the arrangements for my being well treated, and the ladies and the little girl made me
some nice little presents * and when the morning came for me to start, I could see tears
in their eyes as they kissed me good-by."
On March 31, 1836, Urrea -- his army, marching in two divisions --
having preceded him -- marched from Victoria with his escort, leaving in garrison there a
detachment of forth men under the command of Captain Telesforo Alavéz (Urrea, Diario de
la Campaña de Tejas p. 24; Filisola, Memorias para la Guerra de Tejas, II, pp. 445-46)
That the "Angel" was with this garrison, we know positively from Doctor Barnard,
"She afterward showed much attention and kindness to the surviving
prisoners, frequently sending messages and supplies of provisions to them from
When Urrea occupied Victoria, three families of Irish Texans, the
Quinns, Shearns, and Haleys, remained in that town. R. L. Owens, grandson of the Quinn
family, has preserved their recollections of those trying days. Though he does not mention
her by name, the "Angel of Goliad" is easily recognizable in the incidents which
"As Santa Anna's army came marching into Victoria from the river
west of town, my grandmother looked up to find seven Americans standing in the doorway * *
* She exclaimed * * 'I won't send you away, but if you are found here we will all be * * '
shot.' Without a word, they wheeled and started for the old road * * to Texana ... but the
Mexicans pursued and fired upon them, killing three or four and taking the others
prisoners, who were ... taken to the market square (where the City Hall now stands) to be
shot, but the wives of several Mexican officers threw themselves between the prisoners and
the firing squad, and told the officers in charge they would have to shoot them before
they could shoot these men, who had harmed no one ... The execution did not proceed.
"As some may be curious to know the treatment accorded the
Americans, while the Mexican army held Victoria, my impression is that the Shearns were
English subjects, and hoisted the British flag. With my grandparents, a Mexican officer
and his family occupied part of their home, and they were very kindly treated."
Isaac D. Hamilton of Captain Shackelford's Company escaped, severely
wounded, from the massacre, and with the help of Cooper, Brooks, and Simpson, who had also
escaped, made his way to within two miles of Texana, where his companions left him for
dead. On the nineteenth day after the massacre, however, he revived and managed to find
his way to Dimitt's Point, where he was again made prisoner. In an affidavit executed at
Houston, January 8, 1852, he says of his subsequent adventures. (The italics are the
"From this place I was hauled on a cart some fifteen miles, when I
was put upon a poor horse . . . until we arrived at Victoria. At this place I was
courtmartialed and order to be shot, which fate I escaped by the intercession of two
in a subsequent affidavit, at Galveston, January 28, 1858, covering the
same facts, he says:
"I was sentenced to be shot at Victoria; two officers wives
pleaded for me."
Though Barnard, Hughes and Brown call their Angel of Mercy
"Señora," or "Madam" Alvarez, while Shackelford calls Alevesco; all
the narratives agree that she was the wife of one of Urrea's officers; Shackleford and
Hughes say, of one of Urrea's Captains. The only possible inference from the known facts
is that she was the wife of Captain Telesforo Alavéz. As paymaster of the army, Captain
Alavez was one of the few officers in position to be encumbered by a family.
"Alevesco" was Shackelford's rendering of her husband's name; as
"Alvarez" was that of Brown, Barnard, and Hughes. These Texans were not
accustomed to the Spanish idiom; and not-withstanding the difference in accent, Alvarez
and Alavéz sound much alike to an American trained ear. Alvarez is a common Spanish name;
Alave'z an uncommon one. It is in point, too, that since Barnard, Shackelford, and Hughes
all speak of conversing with her, their "Angel", beyond all doubt, spoke
English. Equally without doubt, they all knew her as the wife of Captain Telesforo
The complete service record of this officer is preserved in the Mexican
Secretaria de Guerra y Marina. He was a resident of Toluca, who enlisted as a private in
the Mexican National Army May 2,1821, and was promoted, in due course, through the several
non-commissioned and commissioned grades until July 19, 1835, when he was commissioned as
Captain in General Jose Urrea's own Regiment, the Cavalry of Cuautla. He was stationed in
the City of Mexico from May 31, 1833, until the Zacatecas Campaign in 1834, but rejoined
his regiment and fought against Zacatecas under General Urrea, by whom he was cited for
conspicuous services in the decisive battle before Zacatecas, May 11, 1834.
In the Texan Campaign, "He assisted in the action of Puerto de
Copano, in March, 1836, and performed the duties of Paymaster of the forces." As of
December 31, 1837, he was rated as thirty-four years of age, married, and a resident of
Toluca. Other documents in the Secretaria de Guerra y Marina indicate that Maria Agustina
de Pozo, also of Toluca, was his wife.
From Urrea's Diaria and Filisola's Memorias, we know positively that
Captain Alave'z commanded the garrison at Victoria from March 31, 1836, until that place
was evacuated on May 14th. He then accompanied General Urrea to Matamoros, arriving there
May 28, 1836. (Urrea's Diario de la Campaña de Tejas, p. 36). By indirect evidence we can
account for the presence of the "Angel of Goliad" on Urrea's return March.
About August 1, 1836, Joseph H. Spohn, spared as an interpreter at the
Fannin massacre, said in explaining his own escape: [Lamar Papers, No. 422, Vol. 1, p.
"A part of the retreating army ... fatigued and worn, fell on
Goliad ... Spohn, who thought a better chance to escape would be found ... (at Matamoros)
proceeded as far as San Patricio with Captain Alavéz ... General Urrea, seeing him, asked
him if he would drive one of his coaches to Matamoros. . . . He went to Matamoros with the
General, and had for his fellow driver a young man who had been saved from Col. Johnson's
And P. J. Mahan, in accounting many years later, for the men taken with
him at the rancho of Julian de la Garza, below San Patricio, on the occasion of Johnson's
"We were surrounded by a large body of the enemy's cavalry. . . .
Wm. Williams and Dr. Bunsen were immediately killed and Spease [John Spiess, from Aargau,
Switzerland] Hufty, and your petitioner wounded ... Spease was afterward released, and
went to the City of Mexico with Captain Alavez, a Mexican officer." (Memorial
No. 247, File Box 68, Archives of Texas, Department of State)
Concerning the Angel herself, we have only the evidence of Doctor
Barnard: [Wooten: Scarff's, A Comprehensive History of Texas, I, p. 628]
"After her return to Matamoros, she was unwearied in her attention
to the unfortunate Americans confined there. She went on to the City of Mexico with her
husband, who there abandoned her, and she returned to Matamoros without any funds for her
support; but she found many warm friends among those who had heard of and witnessed her
extraordinary exertions in relieving the Texas prisoners."
Again the evidence is almost, but not quite, conclusive. Captain
Alavéz, as paymaster, was probably, though not certainly, the only one of Urrea's
officers who was permitted to go on to the City of Mexico. And since Urrea and his forces
remained at Matamoros, he was almost certainly the only one of Urrea's officers who could
have abandoned his wife at that time. Documents discovered in Secretaria de Guerra y
Marina in 1835, as a result of a search instigated by Miss Marjorie Rogers, of Marlin,
Texas, raise an unpleasant question as to whether the "Angel" could, in fact,
have been, as she seemed, the lawful wife of Captain Alavéz. Miss Rogers says:
I had the records in Mexico City searched by a ... young man who speaks
and reads Spanish well, and who says: . . .'The legitimate wife of Captain Alavéz was
Maria Agustina de.Pozo, a resident of Toluca. There are several letters on file from this
woman and one from her brother. It seems that Telesforo abandoned Maria Agustina about
1834 and three years later she started writing the Minister of War for money. She had two
small children at the time."'
Dr. C. E. Castañeda found that the church records at Toluca (which is
the capital of the state of Mexico) for the years prior to 1870, have been destroyed by
fire; but he also found a hint that the seat of the Alavéz family was not in the City of
Toluca, but in a nearby town called Amanalaco de Becerra, where some of his
descendants now reside. The evidence at hand does not exclude the possibility that the
"Angel" was a pseudo-wife, and that "Panchita" is the only name by
which she may ever be known.
The above article is from Bits of Texas History by J.T.
Canales published in 1950. In 1949, Davenport wrote an earlier version of the
article with the same title for inclusion in Hobart Huson's edited edition of Dr. J.H.
Barnard's Journal. Canales' included the following footnote containing the expanded
section of Barnard's journal referring to the Angel of Goliad:
"I must not here omit to mention Sehora Alvarez, whose name ought
to be perpetuated to the latest times for her virtues, and whose action contrasted so
strangely with those of her countrymen, deserved (deserves) to be recorded in the annals
of this country (county) and treasured in the heart of every texan. When she arrived at
Copano with her husband, who was one of Urrea's officers, Miller and his men had just been
taken prisoners; they were tightly bound with cord so as to completely check the
circulation of blood in their arms, and in this state (way) had been left several hours
when she saw them. Her heart was touched at the sight, and she immediately caused the
cords to be removed, and refreshments to be given them. She treated them with great
kindness, and when on the morning of the massacre, she learned that the prisoners were to
be shot, she so effectually pleaded with Col. Garey (sic) (whose humane feelings revolted
at the barbarous order) that, with great personal responsibility to himself and at great
hazard at (in) thus going counter to the orders of the then all-powerful Santa Anna, he
resolved to save all that he could; and a few of us in consequence, were left to tell of
that bloody day.
Besides those that Col. Garey (sic) saved, she saved by convivance some
of the officers-gone into the fort at night and taken out some, whom she kept concealed
until after the massacre. When she saw Dr. Shackelford a few days (later) after, and heard
that his son was among those (that were) sacrificed, she burst into tears and exclaimed:
"Why did I not know that you had a son here? I would have saved
him at all hazards."
She afterwards showed much attention and kindness to the surviving
prisoners, frequently sending messages and presents of provision's to them from Victoria.
After her return to Matamoros, she was unwearied in her attention to the unfortunate
Americans confined there. She went on to the City of Mexico with her husband (who there
abandoned her.) She returned to Matamoros without any funds for her support; but she found
many warm friends among those who had heard of and witnessed her extraordinary exertion in
relieving the Texas (Texan) prisoners. It must be remembered that when she came to Texas
she could have considered its VeoVle only as rebels and heretics, the two classes of all
others the most odious to the mind of a Vious Mexican; that Goliad, the first town she
came to, had been destroyed by them recently, and its Mexican population dispersed to seek
(for) refuge where they might, and yet, after everything that occurred to present the
Texans to her view as the worst and most abandoned of men, she became incessantly engaged
in contributing to relieve their wants and save their lives. Her name deserves to be
recorded in letters of gold among those angels who have from time to time been
commissioned here by an overruling and beneficent Power to relieve the sorrows and cheer
the hearts of men, and who have for that purpose assumed the form of helpless women, that
the benefits with the boon might be enhanced by the strong and touching contrast of
aggravated evils worked by fiends in human shape, and balm poured on the wounds they make
by a feeling of pitying women."
From William H. Oberste's, Remember
The "Angel of Goliad, " as she is known even to this day,
Senora Alavez attempted to prevent the butchery. Not much is known of the identity of
Senora Alavez so affectionately remembered in the annals of Texas. From an old newspaper
we have a clipping in which we find a few additional details about her. Writing about the
massacre at Goliad, the unknown author tells us in his account, which he grandiosely and
incorrectly describes to be that "of the only living man who survived it," the
following story of the "Angel of Goliad":
. . . The courier from Santa Anna arrived at Goliad on the
twenty-sixth, having left San Antonio the morning of the same day, distant, one hundred
miles. Don F. N. Partilla, the commandante, glanced at the superscription, then at the
black seal bearing the president's arms, an upright arm and dagger, with the legend
"Mano y Clavo, " and sat down on his camp stool to read the missive, uttering
something like a groan. Its purport was that he had certain prisoners in charge, that he
knew what his duty was, and must execute that duty promptly and rejoin his commander.
Partilla, threw down the dispatch in disgust. "Duty indeed!" he muttered,
leaning his head upon the table.
A young woman entered the room, took up the letter, and read it through
from beginning to end. Partilla looked up and discovered the intruder with the dispatch in
her hand. "I see you have been reading my dispatch ' said the commandante.
"So---I have. I came here with that very purpose," she replied. "I suppose
you know what it means" "I understand its meaning perfectly. It means the death
of every American now in Goliad." "I have watched for the courier since
daybreak, and was resolved to know the contents of his dispatch at any peril. What are
your intentions?" "To obey the president's instructions to the letter."
"Promise me that you will do as I wish. Much can be done in a few days. I have
friends near the president whom he cannot afford to disoblige; nor can they afford to
slight me. Promise me this, and Francisco my husband's orderly, shall start for Bexar
tonight. ". . . . They call me Indian, Senora Alavesque; but were I president I would
not write that letter for all the lands your father owns; not for all the gold that ever
passed the mint of Mexico."
The colonel leaned his bronzed Aztec face up on the table, weeping like
a child. Dona Panchita Alavesque, a lovely woman of twenty, was the wife of a colonel of
the Mexican army, a man of great wealth and power. She had followed him to Texas, partly
from whim, but chiefly in the hope of doing good. Her visit that night to the commander
saved seventy lives.
The author of this account describes the shooting of the Texas
volunteers at Goliad, their outcries of panic, pain, and agony, and how at last there was
silence---a fearfully oppressive silence of the hundred and more dead. This account of the
massacre does not differ much in detail from that of Shackelford. He takes up the
narrative again by relating the further activities of the Angel of Goliad:
Meanwhile Father Maloney (Molloy), the
curate of San Patricio pushed the three American physicians and their assistants into the
vestry, and shut the door. He had hardly done so when Senora Alavesque entered, and asked
if they were still alive. The priest answered that they were in the vestry, but that he
expected Dominguez for them any moment. "Give them this note," she said,
"and if he dares to treat it with disrespect, he shall never pass that door
alive." Soon Dominguez entered. "Show him the note, Father," said Panchita.
Dominguez read the note, which was signed "Garay," and directed that the three
physicians and their assistants should be reserved from execution. Dominguez walked away
with an air of disappointment....
Eight days after the massacre an order arrived at Goliad to shoot the
remaining prisoners, but before it could be carried into effect it was countermanded. And
this, Don Manuel Tolsa told me, was the result of Senora Alavesque's influence at
headquarters. About the close of April following Senora Alavesque came to our headquarters
one day with Don, her husband, who looked like a goodhearted man, but dreadful stiff and
dignified. Panchita bade us all good-bye, and said she was going home to Durango. . . .
The Senora was hardly twenty, a black-eyed high-bred beauty. God bless her. She saved my
life and the lives of my companions. . . .
According to Oberste, this account was found in an old scrapbook of Mr.
M.T. Gaffney, an early resident of Corpus Christi.
The Fate and Descendants of the Angel of
died on the King Ranch and is buried there in an unmarked grave .... Old Captain King and
Mrs. King knew and respected her identity."---Memoirs Elena O'Shea, King Ranch
foremen of major divisions of the King Ranch......first Mexican-American to play high
school football in Kingsville......brothers Bobby Cavazos, Gen. Richard O. Cavazos, and
Dr. Lauro Cavazos, former president of Texas Tech University and Secretary of Education
1988-1990, the first Hispanic to serve in the U.S. Cabinet....the Alvarez clan is alive
and well in Kingsville, in Corpus Christi and all over South Texas.
In the years before his death in 1957, author Harbert Davenport
uncovered the apparent fate of the "Angel of Goliad" described most recently in
the 1993 publication by Bill and Marjorie K. Walraven, The Magnificent Barbarians:
Little Told Tales of the Texas Revolution. In 1936, Mrs. Elena Zamora O'Shea, wrote
up some of her experiences while a school teacher on the Santa Gertrudis Division of The
King Ranch in 1902-3:
.Among the Mexicans there were Alfonso, an old servant to
Mrs. King, and Matías Alvarez..
..After school hours every Friday, these two old men
would come to the schoolhouse and listen to me as I read to them from Spanish newspapers,
or translated stories from the books studied by the children. We had been reading Mrs.
Pennybacker's History of Texas. They followed the stories anxiously. When I read the story
of the massacre of Goliad, Don Matías was alert, taking in every word. When I had
finished, he asked me, "Is that all that they say about Goliad?" I told him it
was. "They do not say that anyone helped those who were hurt or that any of them were
saved?" he asked..
Prompted for the
reason for his questions, Matías Alvarez related that his father was Telesforo Alavez
whose marriage was arranged by parents. He separated from the wife for years, lived with
his sweetheart, Francisca, who followed him throughout his military assignments on the
northern frontier. In Matamoros, Matías and a brother Guadalupe, were born. Matías
related that after Colonel Alavez's death, he and family members worked north of the Rio
Grande on ranches and truck farms including the Yturria Ranch which was earlier the
Cortina Ranch. Matías had children Pablo, Luis, Dolores, Gerardo, Guadalupe, Jacinto,
Maria and Telesforo. In 1884 Matías began working for the King Ranch. According to him,
Captain King, founder of the ranch, knew Colonel Alavez while he was still living and of
the humanitarian actions of Señora Alavez.
According to teacher O'Shea the whole extended family lived on and
worked on the giant ranch,
"the boys worked at different occupations. The girls sewed for the
family. Maria became the companion maid of Miss Clara Driscoll
..During the two years
I taught there, I had among my pupils Gerardo Alvarez Jr. in whom both Mrs. King and Mrs.
Robert Kleberg took special interest. The boy finished high school and was sent to a
school of pharmacy and is now  a druggist at Kingsville. Other members of the
Alvarez family live at Kingsville or on King ranches."
Mrs. O'Shea is said to have related to others that Matías' aging
mother was with the family and that she had met Doña Panchita when she was bedridden and
in her nineties. O'Shea wrote that
"she died on the King Ranch and is buried there in an unmarked
grave .... Old Captain King and Mrs. King knew and respected her identity."
According to the Walraven's, Mrs.
O'Shea's story was related in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in 1986. Gerard
Alvarez III of Corpus Christi contacted the author and related "I was born in
Kingsville in 1938, I am proud to say, the great-grandson of Matías Alvarez and fifth
generation descendant of Doña Francisca 'Panchita' Alavez . . . ."
Mr. Alvarez related that Gerardo Alvarez I, son of Matías Alvarez,
became foreman of the Santa Gertrudis Division of the King Ranch and died February 1914
just before the birth of Gerardo II. Gerardo II never finished pharmacy school, but
instead became a professional baseball umpire and after twenty-five years he later was a
Civil Service worker in Corpus Christi. In the 1930's Gerardo II was the first American of
Mexican descent to play high school football in Kingsville. He died in 1985.
After Gerardo Alvarez I's death in 1914, Lauro Cavazos became foreman of the
Santa Gertrudis section. A sister of Gerardo I, Rita Alvarez and also daughter of Matías
Alverez, married a Mr. Quintanilla. Their daughter, Tomasa Alvarez Quintanilla, married
Lauro Cavazos. Lauro and Tomasa Alvarez Quintanilla Cavazos were parents of Bobby Cavazos,
who was a Kleberg County commissioner, a country singer and once foreman of the Laureles
Division of the King Ranch; Gen. Richard O. Cavazos; and Dr. Lauro Cavazos, former
president of Texas Tech University and Secretary of Education 1988-1990 under Presidents
Reagan and Bush, the first Hispanic to serve in the U.S. Cabinet. Gerard Alvarez III wrote
"the Alvarez clan is alive and well in Kingsville, in Corpus Christi and
all over South Texas."
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
© 1997-2005, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved