The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967 Page: 373
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The Second Battle for the Alamo
1861, was the granddaughter of Lorenzo de Zavala,3 the first
vice-president of the Republic of Texas. After attending Ursuline
Academy at Galveston, she entered Sam Houston Normal Insti-
tute at Huntsville to prepare for a teaching career. She taught
first at Terrell and later at San Antonio. A small woman, about
five feet three inches tall, Miss De Zavala had soft brown hair,
but "the Spanish stopped at the blue eyes."'4 One of her admirers,
recalling the first time he saw her, described her as "an excep-
tionally beautiful woman. . . . She carried herself with dignity
but also with a gentleness of manner, and there was friendliness
in her speech. . . ." A spinster, Miss De Zavala was perpetual
president, often in name, always in actual fact, of the De Zavala
chapter and guided it through more than sixty years of untiring,
and sometimes tempestuous, historical work.
At times she displayed recalcitrance, as well as tendencies to
quick temper and tongue. On November 5, 1900oo, in one of her
displays of initiative, Miss De Zavala attended a San Antonio
school board meeting and presented a letter protesting her low
job classification and salary. The letter was read aloud, and,
typically, she must have pressed her point, for the trustees voted
that teachers would remonstrate only in writing "as they will
not be allowed to come before the board to make verbal com-
The superintendent of schools complained in early 1904 that
Miss De Zavala had not begun teaching the previous September
and had not reported for classes until the beginning of the
second month, "although she was expected daily." Miss De
Zavala had failed to communicate with the superintendent, and
when she finally reported for duty, she informed him that she
"had been studying Mexican history in Mexico." When the
*The De Zavala family eventually Anglicized the name by capitalizing the letter d.
'Frances Donecker to L. Robert Ables, interview, October io, 1964. Miss Donecker,
a close friend of Miss De Zavala, coined the phrase, not to proscribe blue eyes
for Spaniards, but in reference to the Irish ancestors of Miss De Zavala, whose
grandmother (second wife of Lorenzo de Zavala) and mother were Irish.
6Pompeo Coppini, From Dawn to Sunset (San Antonio, 1949), 87.
*Board of Education meeting, November 5, 19oo, "Minutes of Board Meetings
of San Antonio Independent School District" (Office of the Business Manager, San
Antonio Independent School District), B, 153.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967, periodical, 1967; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101199/m1/393/: accessed May 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.