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Emily D. West,  Emily de Zavala and The Yellow Rose Legend

There are three historic documents that support the existence of a woman of color associated with events related to the culmination of the independence of Texas from Mexico at San Jacinto in 1836 and numerous invigorating and exciting treatises on the subject. For background, see here, here, and here.

The document of highest impact because it gave rise to the classic legend of the Yellow Rose of Texas is in the writings of English ethnologist William Bollaert probably made in 1842 during a visit to the city of Houston.   An entry marked "private" whose source is apparently Sam Houston was

"The Battle of San Jacinto was probably lost to the Mexicans, owing to the influence of a Mulatta girl (Emily) belonging to Col. Morgan who was closeted in the tent with g’l Santana, at the time the cry was made "the Enemy! They come! They come! + detained Santana so long, that order could not be restored readily again.”

The nuances, details, alterations, forms and diverse interpretations of this entry are the subject of a 1997 thesis by James Lutzweiler, Santa Anna and Emily D. West at San Jacinto:  Who Edits the Editors?  (An essay summarizing his work is here).   Lutzweiler deduces by piecing together separate parts of Bollaert documents that the account was verbatim from a letter from Houston to a friend after the battle regarding a story that must have been passed on to Houston and that Houston was passing on to Bollaert at the time.  Such a letter by Houston has not been located.  It is speculated that someone that was on the battlefield of San Jacinto was the source of the story.  It is noteworthy that Bollaert's visit, his meeting with Houston, and the death of San Jacinto officer Isaac Moreland, whose name appears on a passport request for an Emily D. West below, coincided in 1842.  In the above document the girl had no surname, but in subsequent legend stimulated by the statement "belonging to Col. Morgan" that implies an "indentured servant for life" or slave belonging to Morgan, her surname in the Yellow Rose legends became Morgan probably stimulated by convention of the period where servants, particularly a single girl, often adopted the surname of their employers.

A second archival document is an undated letter of support for a passport for one Emily D. West believed to have been signed by Isaac Moreland sometime after April 1836 (UT Austin Archives).

Capitol, Thursday Morning
To the Hon. Dr. Irion
The bearer of this-Emily D. West has been since my first acquaintance with her, in April of --36 a free woman—she Emigrated to this Country with Col. Ja’s Morgan from the state of N. York in september of 35 and is now anxious to return and wishes a passport—I believe myself, that she is entitled to one and has requested me to give her this note to you.

Your Obd’t Serv’t
I.N. Moreland
Her free papers were Lost at San Jacinto as I am Informed and believe in April of –36
Moreland

Isaac N. Moreland served on the battlefield of San Jacinto as an artillery captain, in spring 1837 he was practicing law with David B. Burnet in Houston and he served as Chief Justice of the Second Judicial District (Harrisburg County) under President Lamar until his death in 1842.  The paper implies that Moreland knew an Emily D. West in April 1836.  The reference to "a free woman" implies that Emily D. West may have been a woman of color.  The reference to "free papers" further supports the idea since the majority Anglo or native Hispanic Texians at the time were unlikely to need papers or passport to insure freedom of movement in Texas or back to the US of the North.

The lack of a date and unspecific reference to the "Capitol" has created uncertainties about the document.  Author Jim Crisp pointed out in a footnote to A Fresh Look at the Texas Revolution in  Journal of South Texas 13(1), 2000 that the above letter was received and transcribed by the Texas Department of State in July 1837 (the date is inscribed on the reverse side of the letter in the archives), but no issued passport or other document for Emily D. West  based on this has been found.  There are no other documents to directly indicate the subsequent fate of this Emily D. West, or for that matter an Emily Morgan who may have adopted the surname of her employer or master.

James MorganA third document referring to an Emily D. West is a contract dated October 1835 between early Texian businessman James Morgan from New York with one Emily D. West as a housekeeper for one year (UT Arlington Archives).  [Photo left from Rosenberg Library, Galveston, TX]

This agreement, made & entered into by and between Emily West of New Haven, Conn. of the one part & James Morgan of Texas of the other part, Witnesseth that the said West, hereby binds herself that she will go out in said Morgan's Vessel to Texas and there work for said Morgan at any kind of house work she, said West is qualified to do and to industriously pursue the same from the time she commences until the end of twelve months and not to quit or leave said Morgan's employ after she commences work for him, at any time whatever, without said Morgan's consent, until the end of twelve months aforesaid, said Morgan hereby binding himself to the said West out to Texas, on board said Morgan's vessel, free of expense, and to set said West to work within one week after she gets there if not sooner, said Morgan agreeing to pay said West at the rate of one hundred dollars pr. year, said Wages to be paid every three months if required.

In witness thereof the parties have hereunto set their hands and seal in New York this "5th day of October 1835.  In the presence of Frederick Platt, Simeon L. Jacilyn, J Morgan Emily D West.

(See Morgan & West signatures, Simeon Jocelyn was a noted abolitionist and minister from New Haven, CT)

There is no mention of the race or social strata of West in the above document that appears literally to be an employment contract for a housekeeper for one year .  It has elements of a common indenture agreement widely used independent of race or social strata in Europe, European colonies and the US of the period that was simply an agreement to work for a certain period for provision of travel, living expenses and sometimes training for persons without independent means.  However, the legends of an Emily West that belonged to James Morgan that was The Yellow Rose of Texas, retroactively caused speculation that this was the earliest known document showing the origin of the mulatto girl Emily mentioned in the Bollaert document and Emily D. West, the "free" woman of color implied by the word "free" on the Moreland document.  That the abolitionist Jocelyn was a witness to the contract buttresses ideas that this Emily D. West may have been a woman of color and that Morgan was somehow associated with Jocelyn and his activities concerning the freedom and economic opportunities of blacks.

Assuming the Morgan document is a valid document correctly executed on the indicated date and place, it is unclear if an Emily D. West of New Haven, CT ever came to Texas.  No other records of a colored Emily D. West have been uncovered in records of the region.  Based on 1830 census records, researcher James Crisp in an article on Alamo de Parras suggested that this Emily D. West may have been a woman of color living in the household of Simeon Jocelyn at the time.  He wrote concerning an 1830 census "listed as living in a household of seven other persons, all of them designated as "white," is a "free colored female" between the ages of 10 and 24 — a person who would be between the ages of 16 and 30 six years later, at the time of the battle of San Jacinto."  An undocumented comment by a correspondent to Sons of DeWitt Colony Texas on the topic indicated that he found a document where "the abolitionist Reverend [Jocelyn] describes the death of another black women who had lived in his household" in a letter written prior to the Texas revolt that might have bearing on the topic.

The reference to an arrival of Emily D. West referred to in the Moreland letter as arriving in Texas in September 1835, a month earlier than the date on the Morgan indenture raises questions about the relationship of the Emily D. West's on the two documents.

This Morgan indenture document became accessible to the public in 1995 as a part of the Philpott collection of Texiana which was acquired by the UT Arlington library.  Author Denise McVea whose visit to the Alamo site with her niece of mixed race inspired the work Making Myth of Emily--Emily West de Zavala and the Yellow Rose of Texas questions the origin and history of the document down through its acquisition and release to the public, therefore its authenticity or "provenance" or reliability to historians on which to base strong interpretations.  James Morgan's signature appears to be the same as that of numerous other archival documents indicating the document may be an original rather than a copy.  The signature of Emily D. West is the only instance of it that has been found in archival documents.

There are strong debates over whether there was a real "Mulatta girl (Emily)" referred to in the Bollaert footnote or Emily D. West of the Moreland and Morgan documents that gave rise to the Yellow Rose of Texas legend.  The most extreme story of greatest embellishment and variations suggests that Emily D. West contributed to a womanizing General Santa Anna’s defeat on the afternoon of April 21 at San Jacinto in a tryst of some sort with him that critically distracted the general during the surprise attack of the Texians.

Emily West de Zavala Fock Hand ca 1860An alternative theory (Making Myth of Emily--Emily West de Zavala and the Yellow Rose of Texas) has been proposed that Emily D. West and Emily West de Zavala, the wife of Lorenzo de Zavala, the first vice-president of the Republic of Texas, who is well-known and appears in other archival documents of Texas history, were one and the same. The argument is based on extensive examination of diverse sources revealing multiple layers of coincidence in the location and movements of Emily de Zavala, the discrimination hinted in diverse personal opinions of her, the lack of detail about her personal features and character and indications that descendants as Adina Emilia De Zavala, "the savior of the Alamo" were sensitive about something in their ancestor's background.  A major argument of the author is that in tracing the movements of an Emily D. West and Emily de Zavala from available documents indicates that they suspiciously coincide in time and place.  The author also finds it unlikely that Emily D. West was in a sexual tryst with General Santa Anna according to stories that underpin the Yellow Rose legend.  [Photo below of Emily de Zavala from Henson, original in Center for American History, UT Austin]

Author McVea contends that Emily West de Zavala was actually a woman of recognizable African-American heritage.  After her husbands death, she reverted to her maiden name in seeking appropriate travel documents so that she would not be questioned along the way because of her racial background.  McVea suggests a racially-motivated conspiracy was carried out in 1836-7 to downplay or hide the fact that a person of African heritage could be of such stature and impact on the early days of Texas thus the lack of comments in the extensive narratives of persons who knew the Zavalas. 

Missing elements in the Zavala family history records has also fueled speculation that there were family secrets concerning Emily and Lorenzo de Zavala back in New York that were embarrassing to descendants particularly Adina De Zavala.  A secret letter to sister Mary written by Adina De Zavala in November 1900 suggests there were concerns over church baptismal records and legitimate versus illegitimate members of the family.

As mentioned above, the author questions the provenance of the 1835 employment contract that contains the only clear signature of Emily D. West.

The Emily of the Emily D. West signature is debatably different from that of Emily in the signature of Emily West de Zavala in later documents who temporarily left Texas as a widow due to Lorenzo Zavala's death of November 1836.  Leaving Texas temporarily was characteristic of many original colonial families both before and after San Jacinto and what is called the Run Away Scrape in flight in front of the Mexican Army.  The devastated condition left by both the Mexican and Texas Republican Army in front of it on its sweep from San Antonio to San Jacinto left the original settlers no choice. 

A central underlying argument that Emily D. West and Emily de Zavala were one person is the difficulty in cleary distinguishing them according to place, dates, and context in the critical period of late 1835 and fall of 1837.  In a newsletter of the special collections section of the University of Texas at Arlington library, Jeff Dunn, Chairman of the San Jacinto Historical Advisory Board, considers the question Emily West de Zavala and Emily D. West: Two Women or One?  Dunn argues against the idea that Ms. Zavala and the Emily D. West of the only two historic documents bearing the name of the latter could be the same person.  The evidence is based on separate travel documents including a passport obtained in her married name Ms. Lorenzo Zavala, and verifiable dates of travel and arrival in her married name, not that of Emily D. West. This was significantly earlier than when the passport application above for Emily D. West’s was thought to have been submitted or possibly even written in Texas.   This would indicate that Ms. Zavala was in New York while Emily D. West was still in Texas.  Author McVea submitted a rebuttal and further explanation of her position (reprinted by permission of Ms. McVea) that went unpublished.

Although an Emily D. West is lost to history at this stage in respect to archival documents, it is thought that Emily de Zavala returned to her home on Buffalo Bayou in the Republic of Texas in or prior to 1839 to live out her life with two additional husbands (Henry Fock/Folk and E. D. Hand) and children from the marriage with Zavala and Henry Fock (Folk). 

This return and the fact that by the letter of the law, it was essentially illegal and at best very difficult for a person of 1/8 or more African antecedents or recognizably black by skin color to be in the Republic of Texas without evidence of indenture and the Republic continued as a slave state when it joined the USA in 1846.   

Adina De Zavala[Photo left, Adina De Zavala, Center for American History, UT AustinFrom photos of Emily de Zavala (above) and her granddaughter Adina De Zaval, it is difficult to accept that Emily West de Zavala was of African heritage based on her looks.  It has been suggested that modern lineage analysis of descendants by genetic testing might contribute to this specific question.

In heated discussions, the different interpretations and deductions have been divided into either a "two-Emily" or "one-Emily" theory. 

The "two Emily" theory is basically the traditional legendary views surrounding the Yellow Rose of Texas, e.g. there was a "free" woman of color of mixed race (mulatto) indentured by contract with James Morgan (called Emily Morgan in legend) who was instrumental in the surprise Texian victory at San Jacinto.  In addition there was an Anglo Emily West de Zavala, who was simply the American wife of the Mexican-born hero of of both Mexican and Texas independence and the first Vice-President of the Republic of Texas who was displaced by the Mexican Army, but escaped to Galveston Island just ahead of them.  Emily West de Zavala was an important character in Texas history in her role as wife of Lorenzo de Zavala and her descendants, but not on the battlefield of San Jacinto.

The "one-Emily" theory is that Emily D. West and Emily West de Zavala were the same individual, Emily West de Zavala may have been on the battlefield of San Jacinto because of capture and potentially of significance to the outcome of the Battle of San Jacinto.  Since she was of African heritage, she was of great import in challenging racial sensitivities of Anglo-Texians to contributions of blacks to development of Texas other than as servants and property.     

A third hypothesis is the null hypothesis that can be called the "no-Emily" theory.  This is in respect to practical influence of an Emily West, independent of whether there were one or more individuals with that name, on what happened on the battlefield of San Jacinto.  The null hypothesis applies to all subarguments of the Yellow Rose issue.  It encompasses the following negative possibilities:

1.  A woman of color, Emily D. West of New York, if she existed,  may have never reached Texas, or if she did may have quite anonymously disappeared into post-revolutionary Texas society.
2.   Emily De Zavala was for all practical purposes in the eyes of society white, independent of whether or not African genetic markers were in her genes.  Her role in Texas history was as the supportive wife of Lorenzo de Zavala and the grandmother of Adina De Zavala, one of the saviors of the Alamo.
3.  There was no real Yellow Rose of Texas.  T
he Yellow Rose of Texas legend and mystic in regard to a critical distraction of General Santa Anna in his tent on the field of San Jacinto is simply a great story precipitated by the imagination of Texians on the battlefield of San Jacinto and was strongly enforced by a person of stature as General Houston to an observer of 1842 Texas, and was continuously embellished and will continue to be as one of the greatest Texas myths to explain and trivialize the decisive victory of Texians over the imperial Mexican Army at San Jacinto.

Consistent with author McVea's socio-ideological ideas and those of numerous works on the Yellow Rose that have preceded her that are in fashion more than ever today in re-interpretation of history, there is an element of sexual fantasy and potentially racial sensitivities in the null hypothesis.  The sexual fantasies were those very common and mundane ones common to males in a fraternal environment such as the military and other male-dominated settings.  The potential racial sensitivities are the opposite of that proposed in Making Myth of Emily--Emily West de Zavala and the Yellow Rose of Texas.  There is potentially an element of sensitivity of the majority whites for the plight of blacks in the trying period.  It is that Emily West de Zavala and many Anglo Texians on a personal and official level may have been sensitive to the plight of blacks in the period and went to great lengths in the rapidly changing society that favored slavery there to protect them, provide them a "legal" family situation in which they could maintain their humanity, dignity, culture, and economic well-being, and in some cases make their way to freedom.  Yet in the legend fueling both its origin and its fascination today is the often condescending, patronizing and sometimes racist male sexual fantasies of male-female as well as male-male domination and resentment toward competitor males and their sexual escapades.

There was likely a young colored woman "employee for life" trapped at the home of James Morgan or another neighboring Texian estate in the path of the Mexican Army moving to the San Jacinto battlefield.  Under Coahuila y Tejas law at the time no blacks in Texas were “slaves” but "employees" to satisfy the letter of Mexican law.  "Freed blacks" in US terms were present in Mexican Texas and theoretically free of mandatory indenture similar to whites.  However, more often than not unless they were exceptionally independent and skilled with good connections like William Goyens, employment usually in some type of indenture in which the employer would claim ownership if confronted or at least the appearance of it by those eligible to own slaves was practical and wise.  This was particularly true for a woman.  Indeed James Morgan, as did other immigrant slave holders to Texas,  "freed" numerous of his traditional servants that he had title to as property and employed them for 99 years to comply with Texas law.

Like all long term indentures particularly women of the period, the subject colored girl was nameless to public records except for the usual first name title of convenience known to her family, friends and employers. Although her single first name might well have been Emily, for purposes of discussion, let's name her Celia after James Morgan's wife.  Similar to George Cooper, another colored “employee” of James Morgan, Celia was captured or swept up with the Centralist Army on the way to San Jacinto. 

As a woman and in the confusion preceding the battle, Celia became mixed in with the numerous nameless in the entourage of women, mostly of darker skin color known as soldaderas that followed the Mexican Army either in support of them, or for support by them.  A woman of color from the Texian side would likely stand out much less among the soldaderas than one toward the lighter end of the Anglo skin color spectrum as Emily West de Zavala.

Celia may or may not have been noticed by members of the Mexican Army and even less likely General Santa Anna or have interacted with them anymore than any other soldadera or nameless women on the battlefield of San Jacinto.  In the period soldaderas were essentially treated like property and servants of the Mexican Army and unworthy of note in subsequent accounts of the battle by either side.

I believe that a significant sexual tryst of General Santa Anna or any other officer of the Mexican Army with a woman to the point of distraction in this period is highly unlikely particularly in view of subsequent reports written from the Mexican side including Santa Anna himself.  Treatises by Centralista Mexican officers about the Texas campaign are rife with criticism and blame for failure on fellow officers and particularly superiors as Santa Anna.  It is almost inconceivable that a tryst at the time of the attack would not be of the highest denunciation in every one of these treatises. 

Some unattached soldaderas conceivably provided sexual favors, but most were normal and legitimate since many soldaderas were sweethearts or wives of soldiers as well as other familial relations. 

It is most likely that the majority of soldaderas like the majority of Mexican foot soldiers included women of darker skin tones due to Indian and African mixture than most upper class Mexican officers some of which were born in Europe, and Texians particularly the Anglos.  This reflected the general mixture of the majority foot soldier in the Centralist army which more often than not was conscripted in a sort of involuntary servitude or slave of the misguided Centralist cause.  The majority of soldaderas were likely representative of those of the common Centralista footsoldier as described by an observer of prisoners on Galveston Island in 1837--their complexions varied from the African jet to the copper color of the North American Indian." 

Soldaderas at the camp were on average unremarkably cooking, cleaning, arranging and serving the normal needs of officers and common soldiers.  Officers and in particular General Santa Anna likely had preference and thus soldadera activity near them and in their quarters was probably most intense. 

A female mixed among the soldaderas captured from the Texas camp would be insane not to cooperate, make herself as unnoticeable as possible, and fit in with that normal supportive activities as the camp prepared for battle.  Celia may have spoken some Spanish, but doubtful fluently enough to be unnoticed at least among the soldaderasPerhaps she was welcomed as a fellow woman and accommodated, even sheltered and protected to some extent.  Iit is not inconceivable that other women of darker skin color captured or liberated by the Mexican Army's march across Texas were also among the soldaderas

A very clever unattached soldadera with initiative may have tried to enhance her status and particularly Celia in this precarious situation by making herself useful by enthusiastically exercising  hard work and fine servant skills to the higher ranking officers that would receive favor under the conditions. 

Although soldaderas of diverse shades of skin color from black to that close to a European were a natural and routine occurrence and their coming and going in service of the command tent was likely a routine and unremarkable event by soldiers of the Mexican Army, they were likely notable to the eye of an Anglo Texian and particularly a naive one from a culture in which women were not on the battlefield.  Spying on the camp from a distance, visions of sexual activity might easily arise from observation of this routine activity of women of color beyond routine soldadera support activities.  These visions if they occurred were certainly to become amplified via the age old usual soldier to soldier chit-chat about women back at the Texian campfires and afterward.

The availability of multiple servants and particularly in proximity to Santa Anna was probably what gave rise to the report by Tejano San Jacinto veteran Antonio Menchaca that Santa Anna was "found in the woods, under the care of two mulato girls" at the time of his capture since prior to the battle Santa Anna was probably under the constant "care" of  multiple soldaderas with African and Indian admixture.  They  could have easily been interpreted as "mulato" in the eyes of the relatively light complexioned Spaniard Menchaca.  It is noteworthy that no other reports of the capture of Santa Anna mention that he was accompanied by anyone.

After the chaos of the battle as Mexican combatants and necessarily any women associated with the Mexican Army were being sorted out by the Texian victors, an English-speaking,  non-Spanish speaking, non-soldadera, particular one on the darker end of the color spectrum, was in a notably, precarious position and potentially in great danger unless she could be recognized or came under the protection of those with less than hostile attitude toward her based on her color and dissociation from the soldaderas

Celia was potentially lost “chattel” like other belongings on the field, particularly of the Mexican Army including Santa Anna's paraphernalia that was looted, or auctioned off as historic records confirm.  She could be grabbed as bounty and sold to the highest bidder, dissociated from her friends and family unless quickly receiving protection, recognition or return to her “owner” under the protection of those who might recognize her.

The potential for opportunism and abuse in terms of spoils was extensive in the chaos after the battle.  There were reports of "execution," massacre and mistreatment of prisoners by isolated Texians in their anger.  There are reports of mistreatment of women on the battlefield and the "murder" of one by a Texian soldier (The Woman at San Jacinto by Gary Brown).

Fortunately someone recognized Celia or was sympathetic to her situation and became her Anglo protector on that chaotic day and days and months that followed.

Participating in this protection network, possibly without real sympathy other than as a favor for friends, these protectors were benevolent Texians such as I.D. Morehouse and his kind who have been wrongly accused of racially-sensitive conspirators to protect the purported African background of Emily West de Zavala.

No doubt a girl of color from the Texian side who had experienced the enemy camp as a soldadera on the battlefield, particularly if she were in proximity to the command tent and General Santa Anna, was a target of intensive questioning by Texians.  Answers coming from a frightened woman of color whose fate was labile may have taken diverse turns from the truth like a witness under duress.  No doubt she was a source of colorful stories among friends and particularly for Texian soldiers on the field as a privileged witness to the Mexican Army on the field.  Anything she said had high potential for embellishment among Anglo soldiers, some culminating with fantasies of sexual activities. 

These stories, originating from a simple girl of color among the soldaderas on the battlefield, may have spread among the men and up the ranks, eventually reaching General Houston and over time on to author William Bollaert out of their foggy memories years after the event.  These stories could easily have been corroborated by the imagination of a naive young Texians observing the comings and goings of soldaderas from trees overlooking the field..

At this time the servant girl on the battlefield may have disappeared into history. 

Alternatively, the Anglo protectors of the unknown, but respected and possibly beloved servant Celia may have helped her leave the devastated new Republic of Texas just as many were forced to do.  It is not inconceivable that an sympathetic Emily West de Zavala lent her maiden name identity to the girl for documentation purposes in order that she might safely follow her or others out of Texas north into a free state. 

It is most likely that the Emily D. West of the Morgan indenture may have never come to Texas, or left it before the events surrounding San Jacinto, or disappeared anonymously into Texas history if she existed at all.  However, since the provenance of the Morgan contract is unclear, an extreme possibility, short of the unlikely one that the contract is a complete forgery to validate an Emily D. West in Texas, is that  the lost girl on the field of San Jacinto was lent the name of Emily West on a retroactive contract agreement signed by James Morgan and northern abolitionists to spirit her out of Texas with the Morgan transportation industry. 

Although an "employee for life" employer in Texas, James Morgan was clearly sympathetic with the idea of "freed" blacks if only for employment purposes.  He is known to have expressed his distaste for the institution of slavery.   In addition to links to "freed black" proponents in New York, he is said to have at one time planned to develop a colony of free blacks from Bermuda to provide labor for business developments in Texas.  The name of Simeon Jocelyn on the indenture agreement confirms that he was well connected to northern abolitionists and the idea of the individual economic development of blacks.

Emily West de Zavala may have returned to New York with the servant girl Celia who now for purposes of security of passage bore a modified version of her name, Emily D. West, for documentation purposes.  The girl must have been somewhat special although there are probably other blacks in this category that escaped Texas in the period by this mechanism of which we have not heard. 

Ironically, this unlikely, but conceivable scenario is consistent with a large amount of the extensive research and circumstantial evidence reviewed in Making Myth of Emily--Emily West de Zavala and the Yellow Rose of Texas and the "one-Emily" hypothesis.  Instead of an African-Texian Emily de Zavala reverting to her maiden name to protect herself, a variation of her maiden name was used for the protection of an African-Texian.  The Zavala family was known to have at least one servant named Emily that was referred to as Aunt Emily by members of the family.

Emily West de Zavala as well as other sympathetic Texians may have acted essentially as “underground railroad” agents to safely get the girl, and possibly others like her, into a free state and in Celia's case, that of her origin, before she (Emily de Zavala) returned as Emily Fock to live the rest of her life in the slave state of Texas. Emily Zavala’s status in Texas society at the time gave her special means to pull off the task as well as potential connections similar to James Morgan's to the northeast USA and abolitionists.  Ironically, this activity if known to harder core slavery proponents in Texas would cause her to be looked down as all sympathizers to the welfare of individual blacks outside the formal contract of ownership would be in the period.

James KerrThe fate of hypothetical Celia, Emily, possibly Emily D. West, the now "freed black" who may have returned with Emily de Zavala to the north (assuming her return was successful) is unknown as is the question of whether she ever used or adopted the name and archival records of her can be found.  Perhaps she never knew that the name was used for her protection except for instructions to tell anyone who questioned her along the way.  She may have never used the name in practice retaining her hypothetical first name Celia or changing to another as she disappeared into history.

The struggle of Texians to protect the individual lives and cohesiveness of families of bonded servants including those of mixed race between black servants and free whites such as the story of James Kerr and his colleague William Bracken is an untold and likely a more frequent story than records indicate.

Who knows if the mixed race children of William Bracken because of his premature death prior to emancipation, and that of James Kerr before him fared as well or worse in respect to freedom as the hypothetical Celia, the servant girl caught up on the battlefield of San Jacinto.  There is no legend as the Yellow Rose of Texas to remember them by. 

Bracken willed on his deathbed that they be set free, moved north and receive a share of his estate upon his death, a wish that competing families interest and the institutions of the time would not allow.  Similar to the "Mulatta girl Emily" and Emily D. West, their fate is also currently unknown, although it is thought that they and their descendants likely remained in Texas struggling through as bonded servants to emancipation, then freedom while contributing in their own personal and modest way to the evolution of the Texas of today.

 

[Sons of DeWitt Colony Texas is seeking any and all new information concerning William Bracken and his descendants and particularly the fate and descendants of Charles, Amanda and Harriet Bracken whose mother and her parents and potential relatives Shade, Jack and Anise are among the earliest Black Texians on record].


Republic of the Rio Grande: Is it time to resurrect it?

Alex Loya, author of Continuous Presence of Italians and Spaniards in Texas as Early as 1520, including the Participation and Consequence of Texas and Louisiana in the American Revolution, argues that through their sometimes unrecognized dominant Iberian peninsula genetics and culture, Hispanic peoples throughout the southwestern states of the USA have more in common with Louisiana and the northern Mexican states than southern Mexican states where Native American admixture is much more prevalent in a gradient moving south. This causes confusion in cultural and national identity of Hispanics whose families occupied, developed and have been a continuous presence in the American Southwest far earlier than those of other national origins.

Bonds of common genetic and cultural identity coupled with economic and political goals and dissatisfaction with central governments have long been a historic force underlying regional political alliances and independence movements west of the Mississippi River and south of the Mason-Dixon line. The earliest was the Western Republic purportedly envisioned by Aaron Burr  for which he was accused and acquitted of treason. The one success was the Texas independence movement that began as Loya relates as early as 1811 culminating with the Republic of Texas that lasted from 1836 to annexation to the USA in 1846.

A separate Republic of the Rio Grande was the idea of Mexican Federalist leaders in Northern Mexican States and sympathizers in the Republic of Texas to break with the Centralist government of Mexico in 1840 and restore the Federalist Constitution of 1824 abrogated by dictator Santa Anna.

Since El Plan de San Diego in 1917 largely radical separatist ideas for regional alliances have centered around pre-Columbian myth as Aztlán or general Mexican civil rights as La Raza and have waxed and waned with probably their highest visibility in the 80’s. One of the most recent ideas called La Republica Del Norte was described by Dr. Charles Truxillo, professor of Chicano Studies at the University of New Mexico, who has been called a traitor of the Aaron Burr class by some opponents. Two articles on La Republica Del Norte are here and here.

Similar to the Southwestern United States, the Northern Mexican States have been and are generally the most independent-minded within Mexico. They are the most industrialized, pro-capitalist and probably the most religious. In fact the split between parties in the recent Mexican election probably reflects differences between north and south Mexico. One article points out in agreement with author Loya, “Northern Mexico also has the highest concentration of people who are wholly or mostly of Caucasian descent. Southern Mexico is Indian Mexico and seems to be in a state of insurgency more often than not.” [Lester D. Langley, MexAmerica Two Countries, One Future (New York Crown, 1988), pp. 4-5]. The latter complaints about Centralist Mexico was in part what precipitated independence movements in early 19th century Texas.

To some a resurrection of the Republic of the Rio Grande idea along the lines of the evolution of the Republic of Texas in the early to mid-19th century may not be a bad idea for current times. That is an alliance of the two regions based on recognition and respect for the dominant common Iberian genetic and cultural heritage of Hispanic peoples of the two regions as pointed out by Loya, inclusion of the minority mix of Anglo (Nordic), Native American, African and other diverse peoples in the regions, common economic and political objectives capitalizing on sympathizers and the best of both countries that border the region, evolution to independence and then eventual annexation of the region to the bordering country offering the most benefits to the common goals of the region. Such was the evolution of Texas in the 19th century except the evolution began from original Hispanic to a Nordic Anglo majority in the period instead of the well-balanced numbers between the two and other diverse populations in current Texas.

Note bene: Aaron Burr lived to see the Texas Revolution of 1836 before his death in the fall of the same year at age 80. He noted with pleasure: "What was treason in me thirty years ago, is patriotism now."

Addendum:  Concerning the issue of historic regional differences in Mexico as reflected in the recent national election, here is a relevant summary. Vote ratios of PAN (Calderón)/PRD (Obrador) in percent were US border states 46/22; north states 48/22; center states 36/34; Mexico City metro 30/49; south 20/46; and Yucatán 39/25. (The percentages for the PRI's Madrazo who got 22% total, only 15% in Mexico DF, not shown). In essence, the vote reflects historic Federalism versus Centralism for which domination by the latter led to the unrest and independence of Mexican Texas and eventual annexation to the USA.

Note how the independent and free-spirited Yucateños remain a regional exception even though they are a southernmost state. The home of first Vice-President of the Republic of Texas, co-designer and first signer of the Constitution of 1824, Lorenzo de Zavala, and the one distal state that Secretary of the Republic of Texas Navy, Samuel R. Fisher thought was important enough to defy President Houston and go to their aid in defiance of centralist dictatorship with the Republic of Texas Navy.


SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
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