Susanna Dickinson would probably agree with those who say, “Life in the early days of Texas was an adventure for men and dogs, but hell on women and horses.” Texans and historians will always remember her as the sole adult Anglo survivor that witnessed the massacre at the Battle of the Alamo.
I recently finished reading a novel titled Escape From the Alamo, written by Dac Crossley, a retired professor who lives in Georgia. However, as he says, he’s still “a Texas boy.” To me, he’s a gentleman Western author who writes about Texas Rangers in the Wild Horse Desert of South Texas. His latest novel, though, is different. Without relating the plot, he does mention Mrs. Susanna Dickinson, a survivor of the fall of the Alamo. She was real, just like Davy Crockett and Colonel Travis.
Why was Susanna Dickinson in the Alamo in the first place?
She lived in Gonzales in Mexican Texas with her first husband, Almaron Dickinson. As Antonio López de Santa Anna entered the city, Dickinson reportedly caught up his wife and baby 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.
On March 7, Santa Anna interviewed each of the survivors individually. He was impressed with Mrs. Dickinson and offered to adopt Angelina and have the child educated in Mexico City. Dickinson refused the offer. A few days after the battle, Santa Anna released mother and daughter to act as a messenger to General Sam Houston.
Susanna Dickinson reported that after the battle, the following had occurred during the siege and ultimate fight:
- There were very few casualties before the final assault. She did not know the number.
- She confirms that the legendary “line in the sand” incident, where Col. William Travis gave the defenders the choice of staying or leaving, did happen–but at a different time.
- She hid inside the chapel and did not see the actual battle.
- She saw the body of Davy Crockett between the chapel and the barracks building.
- She saw the body of Jim Bowie with two dead Mexican soldiers lying beside him.
- She was taken to a house where she’d previously lived, and from there could see the pyres of the dead being burned.
- The next day she was taken before Santa Anna, and a soldier convinced Santa Anna to release her rather than imprison her.
- At some point after the battle, she has no recollections, only that she wept for days.
Susanna was a strong woman and a survivor, but the memory of those days would haunt her the rest of her life. She sometimes suffered from what she called her “black days”. She married and divorced 4 more times and is reported to have lived in a brothel for a time before she met and married Mr. Joseph Hannig. She and Hannig had a successful marriage until her death in 1883.
In my most recent release, Texas Promise, the hero is a Texas Ranger, and he marries his childhood friend, Jo Cameron. My novels feature brave, strong willed heroines–such as Susanna Dickinson. I’d love to give away a copy of Texas Promise. This novel is in eBook form. I can send the pdf version, or if I can learn how (oh, this new technology!) I’ll send a copy for your Kindle. P&P will choose a winner.
After two years, Jo Cameron King’s life as a widow abruptly ends when her husband returns home to Austin. Unable to understand her angry and bitter husband, she accepts a call to travel to the New Mexico Territory to meet her dying birth father whom she knows nothing about. Her plan to escape her husband goes awry when he demands to travel with her.
Dalton King, believing lies his Texas Ranger partner tells him about Jo, seethes with hatred toward his wife. Now he must protect Jo from his partner’s twisted mind, while sorting out the truth. Jo’s bravery and loyalty convince him she’s innocent. But can they regain the love and respect they once shared?
Buy Page Link Texas Promise: Book I-The Cameron Sisters: