Showing love for her enemies The kindness of Francisca Alavez
Ellie Clark wrote this essay as a fourth-grader with the Summit Christian Academy in San Antonio and entered it in the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Joshua D. Brown Chapter (Kerrville) 2013 history essay contest. She and her family live in the Floresville area.
By Ellie Clark
You may think that all Mexican people were our enemies in the Battle for Texas Independence. But there was one courageous girl who was actually a Texan hero. Settle down and listen to the story of Francisca Alavez, a girl who never gave up. The story all starts ... well, as a mystery! Her exact first and last name and her birthplace are all in question. Different writers say different things. So many facts about her are unknown; maybe she really is an angel or even a saint. It will be up to you to decide.
What we do know is that although she was only a companion of Captain Telesforo Alavez, she was respected as if she was his real wife. He had abandoned his true wife, Maria Augustina do Pozo, in 1834.
Francisca’s fame started at Copano Bay, where she began to earn her reputation as an angel. She combined her kindness and stubbornness to help the Texian prisoners, ignoring her husband’s lectures. Volunteers of Major William P. Miller were being held as prisoners under orders from General Urrea. The men’s cords were cutting into their skin and they were without food or drink. Meanwhile, Francisca saw that the Mexicans had plenty to eat and drink. When she ordered Mexican soldiers to give them food and water and to ease their bonds, nobody questioned her because she was the wife of a commander in the Mexican Army.
One day, Captain Alavez told Francisca to climb aboard his horse. They were going to Goliad, where James Fannin and his men were kept as prisoners. You see, earlier at the Battle of Coleto Creek, Fannin and his men had surrendered. They were taken to the mission of Presidio La Bahia. Once there, Francisca overheard that Santa Anna had told the new commander, Colonel Nicolas de la Portilla, that the men were to be executed! Quickly, she hid a few Texian doctors, risking her whole life to save the men. She persuaded a Mexican soldier to conceal a few more prisoners. The next morning was Palm Sunday. During the sunrise, while the captives were marching to their deaths, Francisca snatched a young drummer boy named Benjamin Franklin Hughes out of the group. All the rest of the 340 prisoners were shot. Francisca felt horrible about not being able to save more of the Texians.
During the massacre, Francisca noticed three people still inside the fort. One was holding the other two. Then she realized that the one was a Mexican soldier. The other two were among the Texian doctors she had concealed. Francisca quickly stepped in front of the men. The soldier lowered his rifle and trudged away. She must have breathed a sigh of relief. She uncovered all the prisoners she had hidden earlier the night before. She retold the story of how to get home and sent them on their way with water and courage. They thanked her heartily and named her the “Angel of Goliad.”
After the war, Francisca returned to Mexico with her companion, Captain Alavez. In Matamoros, she continued to take care of Texians who were in prison. She then traveled to Mexico City with the captain. This would be the last ride she would take on his horse. She was abandoned in Mexico City and left with nothing. He deserted her because she displayed concern not only for the Mexicans, but for the Texians, too.
Different people hold different ideas about her ending. Because of this, she isn’t trapped by history. She has remained a mystery.
Francisca never let anyone stop her from doing what she believed in. She didn’t care which side her patients were on. There aren’t many memorials for her, but the real memorials are in the hearts of Texans everywhere. I bet those Texian doctors never forgot that their lives had been saved by one brave lady. She really made a difference, just like an angel or maybe a saint. What do you think?
This award-winning essay was entered in the Daughters of the Republic of Texas history essay contest about the “Angel of Goliad” by Ellie Clark. Now a fifth-grader, Ellie is the daughter of Chase and Amy Clark. She and her family live in the Floresville area.
Each year, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas offers essay contests for fourth- and seventh-graders. For more information, visit www.drtinfo.org/education.