Yellow Rose of Texas"
In 1836, Emily D.
West, a Connecticut-born free Black woman contracted to serve as a hotel
housekeeper in the Mexican Providence of Texas in the town of Morgan's
Point. The town was attacked by Mexican troops and according to the
legend, doubtlessly, Emily was raped. On the arrival of General Antonio
López de Santa Anna, Emily and other blacks were captured and
forced to leave with Santa Anna. According to an Englishman, William
Bollaert, who wrote in his journal, "'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
Gen. Santana's troops during the Battle of San Jacinto and distracted
the General while Texas troops advanced." Subsequent reports
denied that the Emily was in the General's tent. After the defeat, Emily
applied for a passport,which was granted and she left the Republic of
Texas in 1837. Her activities after that, like much of the rest of her
life are unknown. She was immortalized in song by a Black man who is
known only as J.K.
Yellow Rose of Texas"
a yellow rose in Texas
That I am going to see
No other darky knows her
No one only me
She cried so when I left her
It like to broke my heart
And if I ever more find her
We nevermore will part.
She's the sweetest rose of color
This darky ever knew
Her eyes are bright as diamonds
They sparkle like the dew
You may talk about dearest May
And sing of Rosa Lee
But the yellow rose of Texas
Beats the belles of Tennessee.
the Rio Grande is flowing
And the starry skies are bright
She walks along the river
In the quiet summer night
thinks if I remember
When we parted long ago
I promised to come back again
And not to leave her so.
Oh now I am agoing to find her
For my heart is full of woe
And we will sing the song together
We sung so long ago
We will play the banjo gaily
And will sing the song of yore
And the yellow rose of Texas
Shall be mine forevermore.
W. Eugene Hollonand & Ruth Lapham Butler, eds. William Bollaert’s
Texas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, in cooperation with
The Newberry Library, Chicago, 1956),108.
Martha Anne Turner,
The Yellow Rose of Texas: Her Saga and Her Song (Austin:
Shoal Creek Publishers, 1976).
Emily, the Yellow Rose: A Texas Legend (Houston: Rinard Publisher,
1989), a fictionalized account of her life.