Photo of the Alamo taken in 2011

Two Dollars and a Blanket — the Tejana Survivors of the Alamo

The men who served in the Texian army were not the only people affected by the turmoil of the revolution. Alamo defenders feared for their family’s safety as the Mexican centralist forces drew near. Some defenders brought female relatives and children into the Alamo rather than risk an uncertain fate when Santa Anna’s forces occupied the town.

While the most well-known women in the Alamo during the battle were Susanna and Angelina Dickinson, wife and daughter of Alamo defender Capt. Almeron Dickinson, several Tejana women sheltered with their families within the walls of the Alamo.[1]

Most of these women came from, or married into, families with traditions of resisting what they viewed as oppressive autocracies, either from Spanish authorities or Mexican centralists. Additionally, some of these women had married Anglo-American men who were rebelling against centralist policies that ran counter to their own notions of democratic rule and freedom. When the final battle commenced, many of the Tejanas and their children sought cover from the bombardment in the sacristy of the Alamo and other areas of the Alamo complex.

These Tejanas and their children witnessed and survived the all too real horrors of war, as this legendary battle raged around them. After the battle, many of the women were forced to face the man responsible for the deaths of their husbands, sons, and brothers, Mexican President and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. The women feared that they would be executed just as their men had been, especially those who were married to Anglos. However, after a brief interview, they were given two dollars and a blanket, and released to return to their homes.

Artist Verner White placed Madam Candelaria in front of the Alamo in this 1901 painting. Item #32876. Courtesy of the Alamo Collection.

These women were not lost to history, however; the women who survived the siege provided first-hand accounts of what took place inside the Alamo and helped spread the news of the fall of the Alamo across Texas. Land Office records indicate that some of these Tejana Alamo survivors applied for land due to them for their husbands’ service to Texas.

Twenty-five years after walking out of the Alamo, María Francísca Curvier Losoya, widow of Toribio Losoya, submitted testimony to the Court of Claims as a part of an application to receive the Bounty and Donation land due to her husband. In her application, she provided witness testimony from Francisco Ruiz, alcalde (mayor) of the city during the siege and capture of San Antonio. Ruiz was recruited by General Santa Anna to make a funeral pile of the Texans after the fall of the Alamo, and identified the body of Toribio Losoya as one of the men who was killed. In her own testimony, Mariá stated that for many years she remained unaware that she was even entitled to land certificates for her husband’s service, but provided the names of many prominent San Antonio residents who could back up her claim.[2] Unfortunately, Land Office records do not indicate that she ever received the Bounty and Donation lands she applied for.

Court of Claims File for Toribio Losoya, Court of Claims 005026, Records of the Court of Claims, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin.
Veteran Donation Certificate #183 for Juana N. Alsbury, BEX D-1906, Original Land Grant Collection, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin.
Republic Donation Voucher for Juana N. Alsbury, RV-183, Republic Voucher Collection, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin.

Juana Navarro Pérez Alsbury shared the same horrific experience as the other Tejana survivors, but she did not walk out of the Alamo a widow. Her husband, Horatio Alsbury, left the Alamo on February 23 to gather reinforcements, thus escaping the fate that the other Alamo defenders met at the hands of Santa Anna. Together with her infant son and her sister, Gertrudis,[3] Juana retreated into the walls of the Alamo with the other women and children. In multiple interviews and affidavits, Juana Alsbury testified that she helped nurse the sick and wounded soldiers during the siege.[4] Her husband went on to fight at the Battle of San Jacinto and received Bounty and Donation grants for his service.

Horatio Alsbury died during the Mexican American War in 1847, and Juana Alsbury lived out the rest of her life as a widow. When the State of Texas implemented the Veteran’s Donation program,[5] granting land to indigent veterans of the Texas Revolution, Juana made her application, stating that all the property she had to her name was less than $50.00 in value, and included “some little house hold furniture and cooking utensils and wearing apparel.”[6] She was granted 640 acres of land in 1880 due to her status as a widow of a soldier who fought in the revolution.[7]

Though the battle’s tragic outcome forever altered these women’s destinies, each went on to rebuild their lives with varying degrees of success, as they returned to their communities and reestablished themselves as productive, honorable citizens of the Republic and, eventual state, of Texas. The women and children who survived the siege provided first-hand accounts of what took place, leaving a record for future generations to behold.


[1] Bill Groneman, “Alamo Noncombatants,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qsa01), accessed September 30, 2015. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Modified on July 24, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

[2] Court of Claims File for Toribio Losoya, Court of Claims 005026, Records of the Court of Claims, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin.

[3] Crystal Sasse Ragsdale, “Alsbury, Juana Gertrudis Navarro,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fal49), accessed October 07, 2015. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Modified on July 30, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

[4] Groneman, Bill, Eyewitness to the Alamo (Revised Edition), (Lanham, MD: Republic of Texas Press, 2001), 90–92, 135–136.

[5] Gammel, Laws of Texas, Vol. VIII, 1475–76.

[6] Republic Donation Voucher for Juana N. Alsbury, RV-183, Republic Voucher Collection, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin.

[7] Veteran Donation Certificate #183 for Juana N. Alsbury, BEX D-1906, Original Land Grant Collection, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin.