October 22, 2010

Angelina Elizabeth Dickinson

Angelina Dickinson, called the Babe of the Alamo, daughter of Almeron and Susanna (Wilkerson) Dickinson (also spelled Dickerson), was born on December 14, 1834, in Gonzales, Texas. By early 1836 her family had moved to San Antonio. On February 23, as the forces of Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna entered the city, Dickinson reportedly caught up his wife and daughter behind his saddle and galloped to the Alamo, just before the enemy started firing. In the Alamo, legend says William B. Travis tied his cat's-eye ring around Angelina's neck. Angelina and Susanna survived the final Mexican assault on March 6, 1836. Though Santa Anna wanted to adopt Angelina, her mother refused. A few days after the battle, mother and child were released as messengers to Gen. Sam Houston.

At the end of the revolution, Angelina and her mother moved to Houston. Between 1837 and 1847 Susanna Dickinson married three times. Angelina and her mother were not, however, left without resources. For their participation in the defense of the Alamo, they received a donation certificate for 640 acres of land in 1839 and a bounty warrant for 1,920 acres of land in Clay County in 1855. In 1849 a resolution by Representative Guy M. Bryan for the relief of "the orphan child of the Alamo" to provide funds for Angelina's support and education failed. At the age of seventeen, with her mother's encouragement, Angelina married John Maynard Griffith, a farmer from Montgomery County. Over the next six years, the Griffiths had three children, but the marriage ended in divorce. Leaving two of her children with her mother and one with an uncle, Angelina drifted to New Orleans. Rumors spread of her promiscuity.

Before the Civil War she became associated in Galveston with Jim Britton, a railroad man from Tennessee who became a Confederate officer, and to whom she gave Travis's ring. She is believed to have married Oscar Holmes in 1864 and had a fourth child in 1865. Whether she ever married Britton is uncertain, but according to Flake's Daily Bulletin, Angelina died as "Em Britton" in 1869 of a uterine hemorrhage in Galveston, where she was a known courtesan.

Note
Angelina Dickinson's grave is unmarked and likely lost. She originally had a small grave marker, purchased with contributions from the general public, inscribed only with the word "Britton", the last name of the man she was living with at the time of her death. She claimed to be married to him but there are no marriage records to confirm it, and considering that she had a history working as a courtesan, it was probably a respectful attempt by the community to give her grave a semblance of dignity due to her legacy as the "Babe of the Alamo". The stone was swept away during the 1900 hurricane and her exact burial location lost, but according to family lore her grave was located in the far back corner of Evergreen Cemetery, in a section known as Cahill Ground. I searched the four corners of Evergreen and the only corner area that wasn't marked with grave stones predating the hurricane is in the photo below. Whether it is her final resting place or not is uncertain, but it seems to me to be the most likely.

GPS Coordinates
N/A

Cahill Ground (Defunct)
Evergreen Cemetery
Galveston

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