The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995

Book Reviews

tion--were inimical to her goals of rural school reform, which Ferguson solidly
supported. Finally, Cottrell could have expanded the discussion of rural schools
to demonstrate the problems with educational reform in a state that was pre-
dominantly agricultural, believed education to be a parental rather than a state
responsibility, and allowed a community school system under which parents had
to petition a county judge each year to charter a school; a state in which the ma-
jority of teachers were lucky to have graduated high school themselves.
On the whole, however, Cottrell's book is a well-written, carefully researched
work of history and biography. It should be required reading for students of
Texas history, and college professors and instructors would be well advised to
add it to their lists of recommended reading.
Southwest Texas State Unzversity GENE B. PREUSS
Women and Children of the Alamo. By Crystal Sasse Ragsdale. (Austin: State House
Press, 1994. Pp. 114. Acknowledgments, glossary, epilogue, bibliography.
ISBN 1-88051-o 2-X. $21.95.)
The author endeavors to provide a picture of what it was like for the twelve or
so women within the walls of the Alamo between February 22 and March 6,
1836. She writes in a popular style, and succeeds in making the scene come
alive. Gleaning the few facts about the women and children revealed in reminis-
cences of those few claiming to have been inside the Alamo, Ragsdale finds that
the upper-class Navarro sisters were quartered within the officers' barracks on
the northwest corner of the plaza, while the less-well-connected huddled with
their children in the church. After the battle, most were brought before Santa
Anna, questioned, and released, sometimes with two pieces of silver.
The biographical sketches of the women are of interest. Facts about Juana
Navarro Perez Alsbury and her sister Gertrudis, cousins of James Bowie's de-
ceased wife Ursula Veremendi, are given in detail. The sisters grew up in the
Veremendi house, one of the largest in town; their father, Jose Angel Navarro,
was the jefe politico of B6xar, a sort of subgovernor. He remained loyal to the
Mexican nation while his brother Jose Antonio signed the Texas Declaration of
Independence. Ragsdale gives an even-handed account of Madame Candelaria,
who claimed to be one hundred years old in 1885 and was still telling her some-
what doubtful story of being in the Alamo. A photograph and oil painting en-
hance the short essay on her life. The better-known Susanna Dickinson, the
subject of a book by journalist C. Richard King in 1976, is treated briefly. Rags-
dale gives proper emphasis to Susanna's racial biases and the way her anecdotes
changed during her lifetime. The sketch of Concepci6n Charli Gortari Losoya,
whose married son Toribio was killed during the battle, is less well known. Ana
Salazar de Esparza lost her husband during the battle, but saved her eight-year-
old son Enrique; her husband's brother, Francisco, survived the struggle as a sol-
dier in Santa Anna's army! Enrique Esparza's story follows that of his mother
with quotations from his reminiscences made in the early 19oos.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/. Accessed July 10, 2014.