History

The Yellow Rose of Texas

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Most Texans can hum the tune, some can recite the legend, but few can tell you the true story of the mysterious woman known as the Yellow Rose of Texas. And little wonder, in the 180 years since the Battle of San Jacinto, her role in that decisive day has been embellished and exaggerated, the line between fact and fiction forever blurred.

Mystery Woman

Photo: gratisography.com

Emily D. West was a multiracial woman born free in New Haven, Connecticut in the early 19th century, although the exact date is unknown.  In New York City in 1835, West signed a contract of indenture to James Morgan of Philadelphia, a merchant, land speculator, and agent of Texas real estate development company New Washington Association, headquartered in New Washington, Texas, now known as Morgan’s Point. Witnessed by Reverend Simeon Jocelyn (a prominent abolitionist), the indenture contract provided that Morgan would pay Emily D. West $100 to work for one year as housekeeper at the New Washington Association’s hotel in New Washington and would arrange for her transportation to Texas.

Morgan's Point

Photo: wikimedia.org

Emily landed in Texas in December 1835 and soon drew admiration from many in New Washington for her beauty, intellect, and sophistication. As was common practice at the time for indentured servants and slaves, Emily was now known by her employer’s surname and thus became Emily Morgan. Just a few months following her arrival, on April 16, 1936, Mexican advance cavalrymen stormed into New Washington, seizing Emily along with many other servants, workmen, and residents. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna joined his troops the next day and after a brief respite, ordered his forces to continue to Buffalo Bayou, where they intended to oppose Sam Houston’s army. Emily Morgan, now a prisoner of war, was forced to make the march with them.

The Battle of San Jacinto (1895)
Photo: wikimedia.org

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