The Angel of the Alamo: Adina Emilia De Zavala

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The honorable Adina Emilia De Zavala lived from 1861 to 1955.

Leah Fleurinor, Staff Writer

Adina Emilia De Zavala was a teacher and the keeper of Texas history. 1908 was the year Adina saved the Alamo Long Barrack Fortress, a landmark in Texas.

She risked her life to save the Alamo Long Barrack Fortress because it is more than just a landmark. It was a landmark that had so much history and value to it, and it did not deserve to be destroyed. 

Adina Emilia De Zavala was born in Harris County, Texas on November 28, 1861. Her father was Mexican and her mother was Irish. She and her family moved to a ranch near San Antonio around the year of 1873. From 1884 to 1886, Adina taught in a school at Terrell in San Antonio. 

Around 1889, she and the women of San Antonio had a discussion about Texas and its heroes. “This group became one of the first societies composed of women organized for patriotic purposes in the state.” This society ended up being affiliated with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT).

In 1883, Texas bought the chapel of the Alamo from the Catholic Church. The Hugo and Schmeltzer Company is a wholesale grocery store, and in 1886, brought the Alamo fortress. “The scene of the major resistance by Alamo defenders against the Mexican forces headed by Antonio López de Santa Anna in 1836.” 

Clara Driscoll joined both the society and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in 1903.

The following year, she had purchased the property of the Hugo and Schmeltzer Company. “The Texas legislature authorized state purchase of the property from Miss Driscoll in January 1905 and gave custody of the Alamo to the DRT, but soon, the women began to disagree upon procedures for preservation of the Alamo and upon exactly what constituted the Alamo at the time of its siege and fall in 1836.”

This resulted in the women splitting into two groups. One was led by Adina, and the other was led by Clara. The reasoning for splitting up is because they were fighting for control of the state organization of the DRT and the Alamo. 

Adina barricaded herself with the keys for three days inside the north barrack of the Alamo in February 1908. She refused to listen to the injunction the deputy was reading to her while still being barricaded. As a result, the deputy was stationed outside the building to make sure no one brought her food and cut the telephone lines so there was no form of communication. 

“Here I will remain until justice is done in our cause,” she said, according to the San Antonio Light. “I’ll stay here forever if need be.”

Adina surrendered the building after Texas Governor Thomas M. Campbell would take over the property while taking legal action. By 1909, Adina’s group was defeated in court. The court ruled, “Driscoll’s group had written the De Zavala Chapter out of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas; any action by the chapter afterward was moot.”

In 1910, Governor Oscar Colquitt ordered the long barrack to be re-established. 

The property was returned to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas by the state Supreme Court in 1912. Adina Emilia De Zavala founded the Texas Historical and Landmarks Association, placing 38 markers at historical sites throughout Texas.

Adina Emilia De Zavala was an angel that was finally recognized.

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