Yellow Rose of Texas

About Emily

In 1836, Mexican general Santa Anna lost the vast region of Texas to a tattered Anglo militia while holed up in his battlefield tent with a beautiful American mulatto named Emily. The Battle of San Jacinto would become the 16th most decisive battle in the history of the world, and many credit Emily, a stunning biracial beauty, with the Mexicans’ ignominious defeat. According the legend, the woman distracted Santa Anna with her considerable charms, allowing the ragtag Texas Army to overcome superior Mexican troops. After the battle, according to lore, the mysterious yellow-skinned African American woman simply disappeared. 

Or did she?

Known popularly as Emily Morgan, the woman has been immortalized as the Yellow Rose of Texas and her legend has persisted for more than 150 years. She has alternately been described as a slave, a servant, a prostitute and a spy.

Historians finally decided that Emily must have worked for the Texas vice president's wife,  Emily West de Zavala, because  (1) when  Emily West de Zavala came to Texas, so did the servant Emily West, (2) when Mrs. de Zavala was fleeing Santa Anna's Army during the Runaway Scrape, so was Emily West, and (3) when Mrs. de Zavala left Texas for New York after her husband's death, so did Emily West. 

In fact, Emily West, did not exist at all when Emily West de Zavala was not around. 

And the reason for this is simple:

Emily West was a free woman of color who married Lorenzo de Zavala, Texas' first vice president in  a New York Catholic church in 1831.  She was not a slave, servant, or whore. She was a fascinating woman in facinating times living a fascinating life. And her story is finally being told.

"The author has opened up a closet, perhaps the closet, of Texas skeletons. It will be interesting to see whether she has started a range war of just one more riot for the Texas Rangers of the historical establishment to put down."
                                                                                                        - Lorenzo Thomas, author of Extraordinarry Measures
Denise McVea