GOD & TEXAS: Adina De Zavala - Angel of the Alamo
“There was nothing else for me to do but hold the fort. So I did.”
The 1836 Battle of the Alamo had many heroes like David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Barret Travis. These warriors come to mind when you hear the battle cry, “Remember the Alamo!”
But when you remember the Alamo, do not forget one noble woman some call the “angel of the Alamo.” Many years after the Texas Revolution, this woman sat alone in the ruins of the Alamo mission convent, also known as the long barracks, to save it from being demolished. Who was this woman, and why did she risk her life?
Adina Emilia De Zavala was born in 1861, in Harris County, Texas. Much of her childhood was spent on a ranch near San Antonio. After attending college in Huntsville, Adina earned a degree in music and was soon teaching in her beloved city of San Antonio.
As the granddaughter of Lorenzo de Zavala, Adina was born into Texas nobility. Lorenzo fought in the Battle of San Jacinto, signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, helped draft the Constitution of the Republic of Texas, and served as interim Vice President of the Republic.
Adina, who never married, devoted herself to preserving Texas landmarks. She founded a women’s historical preservation group in 1889 known as the De Zavala Daughters. Their expressed purpose was to record “the unique history and legends of San Antonio and vicinity and of preserving and marking historic places in the city.” This group eventually became a chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.
Being a devout Christian, Adina took special interest in the various iconic places of worship which certainly included the hallowed grounds of the Alamo complex. In 1908, she learned that the long barracks adjacent to the Alamo was going to be demolished to build a park. Adina knew the historical significance this building had in the siege of the Alamo, and determined to risk her own life by taking possession of it. Without food and water, she defied the local police for three days, until Texas governor Thomas Campbell intervened.
Years later, when asked why she endangered her life, Adina said, “There was nothing else for me to do but hold the fort. So I did.” She went on to publish many original articles on the thrilling and diverse heritage of Texas.
Adina died in 1955 at the age of 93. Her funeral was at St. Joseph Church, and her casket was draped in the flag of Texas. Because she loved God and cared deeply for the religious training of young people, Adina willed her entire estate to the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word to establish a girl’s vocational school and a boys' town.
Like Adina, people of faith often put into practice 1 Corinthians 16:13 NLT, “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.” Now it is your turn.
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