If you are trying to decide if something is true, consider its source. This is what Jim Lutzweiler did when he heard the story of a young mulatto girl named Emily whose presence of an intimate nature with General Santa Anna during the battle of San Jacinto would have detained the general, thus causing the loss of to the Mexicans the 1836 battle.
Sam Houston, the victorious commander of the Battle of San Jacinto that launched the independent Republic of Texas, shared the first-person account with William Bollaert who wrote in his diary:
“The battle of San Jacinto was probably lost to the Mexicans, owing to the influence of a mulatta (Emily) belonging to Colonel Morgan who was locked up in the tent with g’l [i.e., General] Santana, as the cry was uttered, ‘The Enemy! They are coming! They are coming! and held Santana so long that order could not be easily restored.
Lutzweiler was so intrigued by the story and how the date likely changed the course of Texas — American history — that he researched it and used it for his thesis while earning a master’s degree. from North Carolina State University. He then presented a communication on the subject at the 100e annual meeting of the Texas State Historical Association in Austin.
“The accuracy of this document has never been successfully challenged,” Lutzweiler said.
In 2000, the Emily Morgan Hotel, right next to the Alamo in San Antonio, sponsored a 3,000 word essay contest on “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and Lutzweiler won the contest and the prize of a week-long stay for four at the Emily Morgan. Hotel worth $9,000.
The essay is about three women: Emily Morgan (after whom the hotel is named), a mulatto woman named Emily D. West from New Haven, Connecticut, and a real or imagined yellow-tinted girl who inspired the song “The Yellow Rose of Texas”, which was published before or in 1853.
Lutzweiler revived the story again in a 52-page limited edition signed booklet The Juiciest Story in Texas History: Emily Morgan, Emily D. West and “The Yellow Rose of Texas” published by its own Schnappsburg University Press in Jamestown.
“Artists often do limited edition prints and that’s not uncommon in literature,” Lutzweiler said. “It makes a book that little bit more special, a real conversation starter.”
For Lutzweiler, however, it’s the content of his booklet and the research he has done to validate the material that really sets him apart. Previously, no one knew where the story came from. They knew it came from William Bollaert but not where he got it from.
“For my thesis, I made three trips to the Newberry Library in Chicago where Bollaert’s journals are kept,” Lutzweiler explained. “It was there that I discovered that Sam Houston, the victorious commander of the battle of San Jacinto, was the source of Bollaert. A white supremacist general told Bollaert that the reason he won the battle was because of a black girl.
In 2001, the University of North Texas Press published Lutzweiler’s findings for the first time in a book.
The first part of Lutzweiler’s newly published booklet details the conclusions drawn from his research, Bollaert’s character, and Bollaert’s diaries. The second half “A Harvard Historian’s Hiccup” criticizes the telling of the story in the book June 16 by Annette Gordon-Reed, who teaches history and law at Harvard. Gordon-Reed discredits Bollaert’s account of the Battle of San Jacinto as told to him by Houston.
“Gordon-Reed is a very influential person, but she and others have the story wrong,” Lutzweiler said. “I think people deserve a better story.”
Hoping to have the historical information about the Battle of San Jacinto corrected, Lutzweiler sent a free copy of his booklet to Harvard’s Widener Library. High Point University also recently acquired a copy.
The booklet is available to anyone by contacting the author at [email protected] The cost is $10 plus shipping.