Yellow Rose of Texas

Making Myth of Emily: Emily West de Zavala and the Yellow Rose of Texas Legend

For years, historians have discussed two women connected to the Yellow Rose of Texas Legend: Emily West, the beautiful mulatto servant who allegedly distracted Mexican General Santa Anna to help win the Texas Revolution; and Emily West de Zavala, the rich white woman who employed her.

But were there really two like-named women, one white and one black, so close to the San Jacinto battlefield in April 1836?

Making Myth of Emily takes an unorthodox look behind this enduring legend to show how the Yellow Rose of Texas myth resulted from determined efforts to hide the racial identity of Emily West de Zavala.  In compelling detail, Myth shows that Emily, the wife of Texas' rebel vice-president, was beautiful, cultured, wealthy - and black.

"For decades, snickering white men have embellished the Emily/Santa Anna story with everything from the nature of his underpants the the size of her bosom.  I have always thought there were unpleasant racical undertones there. So in addition to setting the record straight, the author is bringing some dignity and justice to Emily West."  
             - Curtis Tunnell, former Texas Historical Commission Executive Director

Denise McVea