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Texas | Columns | Lone Star Diary

A high bred beauty...
Lest we forget -

The Angel of Goliad

by Murray Montgomery
Murray Montgomery
She was known, by the Texans, as a "high bred beauty" and the "Angel of Goliad." A tenderhearted Mexican lady who will forever be remembered for her many acts of kindness during those dismal days of the Texas Revolution.

Although there is some doubt as to her real name, she is commonly identified as Francita Alavez and history records that she was a compassionate and beautiful woman.

She acquired the name, Angel of Goliad, because of her efforts to help Texas soldiers who had been captured at the Battle of Coleto.
Angel of Goliad Statue
Angel of Goliad statue
Photo courtesy Sarah Reveley, March 2012
After that battle, in March of 1836, Texas troops under the command of Col. James W. Fannin, Jr. surrendered to Mexican forces. Information found in The New Handbook of Texas states that: "Fannin's men had agreed upon and reduced to writing the terms upon which they proposed to capitulate."

It was the custom in those days that men taken as prisoners of war would eventually be paroled and returned to their country. This is what Fannin had expected would happen to his men. The Mexican commander, Gen. Jose de Urrea, had told him that they would be treated honorably and not be harmed. But as was his habit, Gen. Santa Anna overruled Urrea and ordered all the prisoners to be executed. At sunrise on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, 342 men including Col. Fannin were put to death. (See Goliad Massacre)

After this horrible chain of events, stories began to surface about the exploits of Francita Alavez. Some of the survivors of the massacre told of the kindness they were shown by the wife of a Mexican officer known as Captain Telesforo Alavez. She was credited with persuading one Mexican officer not to carry out his orders to execute Texas soldiers who had been part of Maj. William P. Miller's command. These men had been held as prisoners at Copano Bay and then taken to Goliad to be murdered with all the rest.

Other stories indicate that Francita slipped into the fort at Goliad the evening before the massacre and brought out several of the men and hid them. If she had been caught saving these men, the "Angel of Goliad" would have probably been executed.

Francita Alavez, when at Copano Bay, noticed that the Texas prisoners there were being badly treated. She observed that the men were tightly bound with rope that was restricting the circulation of blood to their arms. Survivors reported that she convinced the Mexican soldiers to loosen the ropes and to feed the prisoners. Following the defeat of Gen. Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto, Capt. Alavez took Francita and returned to Matamoros, Mexico. While in that city, she aided Texas soldiers who were held prisoner there.

Capt. Alavez moved on to Mexico City and there he abandoned Francita and left her penniless. This seemed to be a habit of Alavez - he also abandoned another woman, considered his legal wife, before he came to Texas with Francita. According to The New Handbook of Texas, later research indicates that Francita was probably his mistress.

When the "Angel of Goliad" returned to Matamoros she was without food or shelter. But the Texans there remembered her acts of kindness towards them and they came to her rescue. There seems to be little else known about Francita Alavez from the time she returned to Matamoros. I was unable to find any record of when or where she died. Information about her is so vague, that historians really don't know what name she was known by. Her first name has been given as Francita, Francisca, Panchita, or Pancheta, and her surname as Alavez, Alvarez, or Alevesco.
Angel of Goliad bust by Hugo Villa
Angel of Goliad bust by Hugo Villa for the Centennial
Photo courtesy Sarah Reveley, November 2006

Several years after the Texas Revolution, two doctors who were prisoners at Goliad and spared by the Mexicans, told of the humanitarian acts of Francita Alavez on behalf of the Texans. These eyewitness accounts, by Dr. Joseph Barnard and Dr. John Shackelford, caused the deeds of this compassionate woman to become widely known.

Because of her many acts of kindness toward men considered to be her enemy, Francita Alavez will forever be remembered as a heroine of the Texas Revolution and the "Angel of Goliad."

The Lavaca County, Texas, area has ties to the Angel of Goliad. One of the survivors of the Goliad Massacre, Isaac D. Hamilton, escaped and was recaptured at Dimmitt's Point. He was sent to Victoria and was again scheduled to be executed.

But while Hamilton was awaiting his fate, word came that Sam Houston's army had defeated Santa Anna at San Jacinto. While the Mexicans were in a state of confusion, Hamilton escaped once again. He was aided by none other than Francita Alavez.

According to The New Handbook of Texas, Isaac Hamilton died at Moulton, Texas in 1859 and was buried in the Old Moulton Cemetery.

Murray Montgomery April 20, 2004 column
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