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Women and the Texas Revolution

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While there is wide scholarship on the Texas Revolution, there is no comparable volume on the role of women during that conflict. Most of the many works on the Texas Revolution include women briefly in the narrative, such as Emily Austin, Suzanna Dickinson, and Emily Morgan West (the Yellow Rose), but not as principal participants. Women and the Texas Revolution explores these women in much more depth, in addition to covering the women and children who fled Santa Anna's troops in the Runaway Scrape, and examining the roles and issues facing Native American, Black, and Hispanic women of the time. Like the American Revolution, women's experiences in the Texas Revolution varied tremendously by class, religion, race, and region. While the majority of immigrants into Texas in the 1820s and 1830s were men, many were women who accompanied their husbands and families or, in some instances, braved the dangers and the hardships of the frontier alone. Black, Hispanic, and Native American women were also present in Mexican Texas. Whether Mexican loyalist or Texas patriot, elite planter or subsistence farm wife, slaveholder or slave, Anglo or black, women helped settle the Texas frontier and experienced the uncertainty, hardships, successes, and sorrows of the Texas Revolution. By placing women at the center of the Texas Revolution, this volume reframes the historical narrative and asks different questions: What were the social relations between the sexes at the time of the Texas Revolution? Did women participate in the war effort? Did the events of 1836 affect Anglo, black, Hispanic, and Native American women differently? What changes occurred in women's lives as a result of the revolution? Did the revolution liberate women to any degree from their traditional domestic sphere and threaten the established patriarchy? In brief, was the Texas Revolution "revolutionary" for women?

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1. Continuity, Change, and Removal: Native Women and the Texas Revolution - Lindy Eakin

ePub

CHAPTER 1

Continuity, Change, and Removal

Native Women and the Texas Revolution

Lindy Eakin

Understanding what impact the Texas Revolution had on Native American women requires an understanding of the experience of Native Americans in Texas from the decline of Spanish influence through Mexican independence in 1821 and eventual Texas statehood in 1845. It is against this backdrop that the period of the revolution can be contextualized for native peoples. In order to ascertain the impact on women, one must look at each native group, understanding the roles and experiences of women within the group to discern change during and following the revolution, and to assess the role the revolution played in creating those changes. However, the Texas Revolution was not the only major factor driving change for native peoples in Texas during the 1830s. The immigration of eastern Indians into Texas and the “Indian territory” during the 1820s and 1830s had a major impact on natives in Texas. Similarly, the political and economic turmoil in Mexico that fed the Texas Revolution was also felt by native peoples on the northern frontier of Mexico and caused a wave of change. Finally, the westward advance of Anglo Americans that spurred the population growth in Texas created pressures and opportunities for natives on the southern plains and in Texas.

 

2. Tejanas: Hispanic Women on the Losing Side of the Texas Revolution - Jean A. Stuntz

ePub

CHAPTER 2

Tejanas

Hispanic Women on the Losing Side of the Texas Revolution

Jean A. Stuntz

In 1821, when Mexico received its independence from Spain, the Hispanic population in Texas had been decimated by the fighting. The three population centers, San Fernando de Béxar (San Antonio), La Bahía (Goliad), and Nacogdoches, had only a few thousand people total. Indian groups dominated the rest of Texas. By 1824, when Stephen F. Austin began bringing in Anglo colonists legally, life for Tejanos and Tejanas, the Hispanic men and women of Texas, had not improved. If anything, life was more unsettled because of the rapidly changing politics in Mexico City.1

During the 1820s and early 1830s, most Tejanas raised children, took care of their husbands, and participated in the social and religious rituals of Spanish Texas. They lived in villas (small towns) which had grown up around the missions and presidios (forts) created over a century earlier. The missions had by then all been secularized and either served as parish churches or had, like the presidios, been converted to non-religious uses. This traditional urban lifestyle preserved much of the Spanish heritage including social mores, festivals, and their legal system.2

 

3. “Joys and Sorrows of Those Dear Old Times”: Anglo-American Women during the Era of the Texas Revolution - Mary L. Scheer

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CHAPTER 3

“Joys and Sorrows of Those Dear Old Times”

Anglo-American Women during the Era of the Texas Revolution

Mary L. Scheer

On April 28, 1833, Dilue Rose from St. Louis, Missouri, celebrated her eighth birthday onboard a schooner traveling from New Orleans to Matagorda Bay, Texas. The small vessel, carrying her parents, brother Granville, sister Ella, and other adventurers, encountered high winds and ran aground on a sand bar off Galveston Island and again at Clopper’s Point. Disabled, the ship remained on shore as the frightened passengers spent hours in darkness huddled in the small hold before it turned on its side. The sailors rescued the women and children, as well as Dilue’s father who had been ill throughout the two-week journey. After a day without food or dry clothes, the passengers boarded a keel boat for Harrisburg where they were received “with open arms by the good people” of the town. Despite the primitive conditions and rumors of “some talk of trouble with Mexico,” the Rose family decided to settle in the region, rented a farm near Stafford Point, fifteen miles from Harrisburg on the Brazos River, and commenced the planting of cotton.1

 

4. Traveling the Wrong Way Down Freedom’s Trail: Black Women and the Texas Revolution - Angela Boswell

ePub

CHAPTER 4

Traveling the Wrong Way Down Freedom’s Trail

Black Women and the Texas Revolution

Angela Boswell

Spanish Texas was not a great place to be a woman of African descent. Black women in Texas suffered from social and legal constraints upon their freedom. Spanish society left a legacy of racism that relegated blacks to the lowest caste and allowed many to be held as property until the Mexican Revolution concluded in 1821. However, Spanish laws and then the Mexican Revolution held some opportunities for black women to gain their freedom and even rise in social and economic stature. However, the Texas Revolution, supposedly fought for freedom from tyranny, erased centuries of the promise of freedom for black women in Texas and fastened the legal and social distinction of slavery upon them much more firmly.

Africans and their descendants accompanied the Spanish from the earliest years of conquest of America both as free and as slave, and they continued to occupy an important place in the development of the Spanish colonies. In areas where labor demands were high, such as in Peru, the Spanish brought in hundreds of African slaves. However, the predominant labor force in most of Spanish America continued to be Native Americans who were not enslaved but treated as peasants who owed tribute to the conquering Europeans. Spanish authorities might have preferred three distinct classes—free Spaniards, Indian peasants, and African slaves—but what actually evolved was much more complicated. The paucity of Spanish women enticed many Spanish men to have liaisons with women of the other classes, and whether or not the liaisons were legally sanctioned through marriage, the children of such unions often were recognized. Additionally, Native Americans and Africans living and working in proximity often formed liaisons of their own, so that there emerged a complex caste system with full-blooded Spanish at the top, full-blooded Africans at the bottom, and gradations in between including full-blooded Indians, and mixed-blooded people of every group.1

 

5. Two Silver Pesos and a Blanket: The Texas Revolution and the Non-Combatant Women Who Survived the Battle of the Alamo - Dora Elizondo Guerra

ePub

CHAPTER 5

Two Silver Pesos and a Blanket

The Texas Revolution and the Non-Combatant Women Who Survived the Battle of the Alamo

Dora Elizondo Guerra

On February 23, 1836, seven women and seven children took refuge in the Alamo for thirteen days as Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna, with a major part of his army, entered San Antonio’s main plaza to do battle against insurgent Texans, both Anglos and Tejanos. The women with their children entered the Alamo not as combatants, but as civilians who either chose to remain or waited too long to escape safely. They included six Hispanics and one Anglo woman: Concepción Charlé Gortari Losoya, Andrea Castañon de Villanueva, known also as Madam Candelaria, Juana Navarro Pérez Alsbury, Gertrudis Navarro, Ana Salazar Castro Esparza, Juana Francisca Losoya Melton, and Susanna Wilkerson Dickinson. Each had a husband, son, brother, or brother-in-law fighting on the Texas side of the revolution.1

In 1995 historian Timothy M. Matovina published The Alamo Remembered: Tejano Accounts and Perspectives, in which he stated that he was “probing the collective legacy of Tejano Alamo accounts” and was bringing them together “in a single volume for the first time.” Among those accounts gathered by Matovina were three interviews from survivors and eyewitnesses of the battle that specifically mentioned these women. Namely, they were the accounts of Juana Navarro Pérez Alsbury, Enrique Esparza, and Madam Candelaria.2

 

6. “Up Buck! Up Ball! Do Your Duty!”: Women and the Runaway Scrape - Light Townsend Cummins

ePub

CHAPTER 6

“Up Buck! Up Ball! Do Your Duty!”

Women and the Runaway Scrape

Light Townsend Cummins

The Runaway Scrape during the spring of 1836 constitutes one of the most noteworthy and poignant chapters of the Texas Revolution, in large part because it touched the lives of almost all Anglo-Americans in the province whether soldier or civilian. The “Runaway Scrape” quickly became the term used by those involved to describe the flight of Texans towards Louisiana and the United States at they moved eastward during the spring of 1836. Thousands of people rolled before the movement of the Mexican armies and eventually became involved in this exodus. The military forces commanded by General Sam Houston constituted a significant part of this movement, but the largest number of people proved to be the men, women, and children of the families living in the areas from San Antonio to the Sabine River. The Runaway Scrape accordingly involved a considerable number of women who took to the roads with their families and children. Many of them experienced profound hardships and privations. Some of them lost their lives in the process.

 

7. “To the Devil with your Glorious History!”: Women and the Battle of San Jacinto - Jeffrey D. Dunn

ePub

CHAPTER 7

“To the Devil with your Glorious History!”

Women and the Battle of San Jacinto

Jeffrey D. Dunn

On April 20–21, 1836, the battle of San Jacinto took place between the Texas army under General Sam Houston and a division of the Mexican army under General Antonio López de Santa Anna. During the afternoon of April 21, the Texans, numbering about 900 men, marched across a prairie separating the two armies and attacked the Mexicans, numbering about 1,300. In less than thirty minutes the Texans routed the Mexicans in their camp and spent the following hours indiscriminately slaughtering or capturing hundreds of Mexicans who were attempting to flee. Approximately 600 Mexican soldiers surrendered at dusk, ending the fight. Santa Anna fled west on horseback, but was captured the following day about eight miles from the battleground.1

The battle of San Jacinto ended the Texas Revolution, secured Texas independence, and became an iconic event in Texas history. There were no female combatants in either army, but it would be a mistake to assume that women were not involved or affected. This chapter examines the stories of several women—Texans and Mexicans—whose lives were touched by the battle.

 

8. Women and the Texas Revolution in History and Memory Laura - Lyons McLemore

ePub

CHAPTER 8

Women and the Texas Revolution in History and Memory

Laura Lyons McLemore

“Sentimentalism is a cluster of ostensibly private feelings which always attains public and conspicuous expression.” Ann Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture.1

Browsing through DeWitt Clinton Baker’s Texas Scrap-Book (1875), a compendium of primary documents, memoirs, and biographical sketches, it is striking to note how completely masculine it is, except for a handful of poems by women, one of whom turned out to be an African black man, “Forestina,” Moses Evans’ “Wild Woman of the Woods.” Even an article on “The Archive War” by George Gray mentioned Angelina Eberly, who fired the cannon to prevent the state archives from being moved, only twice and only as the proprietress of the boarding house where the records were deposited until the reopening of the Land Office. Women were essentially not part of the narrative. Any wonder, then, that they would become the memorializers of Texas revolutionary heroes? That was the only way they could claim their own place in the Texas Revolution. They may not have been able to fight on the battlefield or sign the Texas Declaration of Independence, and their activities may have been omitted from or marginalized in the historical record, but by putting themselves in charge of its memory, they secured a role in it for themselves.2

 

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