Much has been written about the legend of the Yellow Rose of Texas. Referred to in various sources as Emily Morgan, Emily West & even Emily West De Zavala, some sources exist which can be used to give factual support to the legend.
Fact: An English ethnologist, William Bollaert, visited Texas from 1842 through 1844 and published a record of his travels. Notes for his work include a reference in his personal diary, purportedly the result of a conversation with Sam Houston, follows.
“The Battle of San Jacinto was probably lost to the Mexicans, owing to the influence of a mulatto girl (Emily) belonging to Col. Morgan who was closeted in the tent with a g’l Santa Ana, at the time a cry was made “the Enemy! They come! They come!” and detained Santa Ana so long, that order could not be readily restored again.”
Fact: An undated letter of support for a passport for one Emily D. West believed to have been signed by Isaac Moreland sometime after April, 1836. In the letter a reference to the loss of her “free papers” at San Jacinto indicates she was present at the battle site and the description of her as a “free Woman” may indicate that she may likely have been a woman of color.
Fact: In October, 1835 an agreement was signed between an Emily D. West and Col. James Morgan binding her to work for Morgan “at any kind of house work for a period of one year for which she would be paid the sum of $100.” One of the witnesses to the contract was a Simeon Jacilyn, a noted abolitionist who worked tirelessly for freedom and economic opportunities for blacks.
While all of the above information can be used to authenticate the existence of Emily West, additional resources may come to light at some point that will give greater validation to the role played by a heroine in the successful struggle for the independence of the Republic of Texas. Presently, she remains the focus of one of the most repeated and popular stories of the defeat of Santa Ana by victorious Texans.