YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS
“The Yellow Rose of Texas” is a traditional folk song which has long been popular in the United States and is considered an unofficial state song of Texas. The actual author is unknown; the original publisher (Firth, Pond & Co.) only stated that it was composed and arranged expressly for Charles H. Brown by J.K. The A. Henry Moss Papers in the Center for American History has an unpublished early handwritten version of what may be a similar song, perhaps dating from the time of the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836. Briefly stated, the song is based on a Texas legend from the days of the Texas War of Independence. According to the legend, a free African American woman named Emily D. West, a mulatto and hence the reference to “yellow”, seized by Mexican forces during the looting of Galveston, seduced General Antonio López de Santa Ana, President of Mexico and commander of the Mexican forces.
The legend credits her supposed seduction with lowering the guard of the Mexican army and facilitating the Texan victory in the battle of San Jacinto waged in 1836 near present-day Houston. Santa Anna’s opponent was General Sam Houston, who won the battle literally in minutes, and with almost no casualties. The basic facts appear to be that Emily West migrated to Texas from New York City in late 1835. Sources describe her as a teen or as a woman of twenty. According to one version of the legend, she became an indentured servant on the plantation of James Morgan near what was then called New Washington and is now Morgan’s Point. Because of her indenture to Morgan, some historians say, she became known by his surname, as was the custom for indentured servants as well as slaves.
There’s a yellow rose in Texas that I’m gonna see Nobody else could miss her not half as much as me She cried so when I left her it’d like to broke my heart And if I’d ever find her we never more will part
CHORUS: She’s the sweetest little rosebud that Texas ever knew Her eyes are bright as diamonds they sparkle like the dew Gimme talk about you Clementine and sing of Rosalee But the Yellow Rose of Texas is the only girl for me
Where the Rio Grande is flowing and the skies are bright She walks along the river in the quiet summer night I know that she remembers when we parted long ago I promised that I’ll return and not to leave her so She’s the sweetest little rosebud…
Now I’m going back to find her for my heart is full of vow We’ll do the things together we did so long ago We’ll play the banjo gaily she’ll love me like before And the Yellow Rose of Texas shall be mine for ever more She’s the sweetest little rosebud…