2723The 'Yellow Rose' of Texas
- Mar 31, 2007
Emily West Morgan(also known as
(a.k.a. "The 'Yellow Rose' of Texas")
[[ NOTE: The above portrait is entitled 'Head of a Mulatto Woman'
It is not a portrait of 'Emily West Morgan', but rather, is an 1861,
'Oil on paper on linen' work created by artist 'Joanna Boyce Wells' ]]
Emily West Morgan
"The Yellow Rose of Texas") was a
young woman of Mixed-Race Lineage
who, via the popular Texas folk-song,
`The Yellow Rose of Texas, is forever
remembered for her heroism during the
Texas war of independence from Mexico
And the story begins in 1830 which
was the year that James Morgan,
an entrepreneur and enslaver from
Philadelphia, immigrated to Texas.
He came to capitalize on the cheap land and
business opportunities in the Mexican colony
which would ultimately become Texas .
He formed several partnerships with New
York speculators yet Texas did not permit
slavery at the time, so Morgan got around
the law by converting those who he
kept trapped in the matrilineal-based
system of life-long `chattel-slavery' into
99-year-long "indentured servitude"
(Note: usually indentured-servitude
was no longer than seven (7) years).
Morgan returned to New York in
1835 in order to gather more 99-year
"indentured servants" for his settlement.
One of them was a twenty year old woman
named Emily D. West, who was known for her
`extraordinary intelligence and sophistication'.
West was of a Mixed-RaceLineage, and,
as was the custom for an indentured
worker at the time, her last name was
changed to the same of that of Morgan's.
By the following year in 1836, the
war for Texas ' independence from
Mexico was in full swing.
Morgan's now successful settlement,
New Washington, was located near
the mouth of the San Jacinto River .
He freely gave his provisions to 'the Texas cause'.
One parcel of land named Morgan's Point ran
into San Jacinto Bay where flatboats were
loaded with supplies; Emily West Morgan
was in charge of loading those flatboats.
On April 18, 1836, General Santa
Anna approached New Washington.
One of those that remained behind,
however, was Emily West Morgan.
Santa Anna ordered his camp set up on the
plains of the San Jacinto despite protests
from his colonels who insisted the location
violated all principles of wartime strategy.
Soon, General Sam Houston moved his troops into
the woods within a mile of Santa Ana 's headquarters.
By the afternoon of April 21, the great final battle
for the independence of Texas was on and the
Mexican army was caught completely by surprise.
Emily West Morgan survived the battle and
made her way back to New Washington.
Two days later, James Morgan, who had not
heard of the battle, returned from Galveston
and Emily told him of her ordeal and
the outcome of the last great battle.
The colonel was so impressed with Emily's
heroism; he repealed her "indenture" status
and also gave her passage back to New York .
Morgan is said to have also made certain
that everyone knew of Emily's heroism.
He told everyone he encountered or anyone who
would listen, and recorded the story in his journals.
Morgan "kept a running commentary
on Texas affairs with Samuel Swartwout,
one of Houston 's friends in New York City ."
He also told his story to an English friend
and ethnologist, William Bollaert, who
recorded the story in every detail.
There are accounts from those who were
there indicate she did what she could
for the independence of Texas .
Today, the heroic acts of the young woman
of Mixed-Race Lineage are still respectfully
commemorated by the members of the
Knights of the Yellow Rose of Texas
each spring at San Jacinto .
The term "Yellow" and / or `High Yella', in
the 1800s, many times referred to people of
Mixed-Race Lineage (and still does to this day)