Juana Navarro Alsbury and Maria Gertrudis Navarro: Eyewitnesses to the Alamo
Among the noncombatant survivors of the siege and battle of the Alamo were two sisters, Juana Gertrudis Navarro Alsbury and Maria Gertrudis Navarro, daughters of José Ángel Navarro and Concepción Cervantes and nieces of José Antonio Navarro, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Following the death of their mother, the two sisters went to live with their aunt Josefa Navarro Veramendi, her husband Juan Martín de Veramendi and their daughter Ursula Veramendi (future wife of James Bowie).
Juana was married to Dr. Horatio Alexander Alsbury (her second husband) and the couple along with a son from Juana’s first marriage were residing in San Antonio de Bexar in February of 1836. Dr. Alsbury left San Antonio on February 23rd upon the arrival of Santa Anna and the Mexican army as one of the first Alamo couriers. Juana, along with her son Alejo Pérez and younger sister Gertrudis, subsequently entered into the Alamo under the protection of their brother-in-law, Jim Bowie.
Juana was later interviewed by newspaperman and Texas Ranger John S. Ford about her experiences during the battle of the Alamo. A full version of that interview was never recorded, but in a paraphrased account, Ford writes that the Navarro sisters “were in a building not far from where the residence of Col. Sam Maverick was afterwards erected,” which would have put them in one of the houses on the west wall during the final battle. When remembering the battle, Ford writes that “She could hear the noise of the conflict — the roar of the artillery, the rattle of small arms — the shouts of the combatants, the groans of the dying, and the moans of the wounded.”
Juana’s accounting of the final battle includes Mexican soldiers entering into the room where she and Gertrudis were, verbally accosting them, stealing their possessions and killing at least two of the Alamo defenders in their presence. After the fall of the Alamo, the sisters were brought to their father’s home.
In 1841, Gertrudis married José Miguel Felipe Cantú, with whom she had eight children. Gertrudis died in 1895 at age 78. Juana’s second husband, Dr. Horatio Alsbury, was killed in 1847 during the Mexican-American War. She then married Juan Perez, a cousin to her first husband. Juana died in 1888 at approximately age 76.
John S. Ford. “Mrs. Alsbury’s Recollections of The Alamo,” in The Alamo Reader: A Study in History, Edited by Todd Hansen (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003).
Bill Groneman, “ALAMO NONCOMBATANTS,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qsa01), accessed May 16, 2014. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Modified on April 11, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Crystal Sasse Ragsdale, “ALSBURY, JUANA GERTRUDIS NAVARRO,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fal49), accessed May 16, 2014. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Modified on July 30, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.