Susanna Dickinson – Alamo Survivor

Alamo survivor? Could that be right? I thought everyone died at the Alamo. Isn’t that what made it famous? Well, all the fighting men who made their stand at the mission, did, in fact, die. But there were others present–women, children, slaves–who didn’t perish during that fateful battle in 1836. Susanna Dickinson was one such survivor.

Susanna joined her husband, Almaron, in San Antonio in December 1835 after her home back in Gonzalez, TX was looted. She hosted many of the men at her table (including David Crockett) and took in laundry for the men at the fort. On February 23, 1836, she and her daughter Angelina moved into the Alamo with her husband due to the increased threat from Santa Ana and his army.

On March 6, after the battle was over, Santa Ana collected her along with the other women, children, and slaves, and questioned them before eventually releasing them with a gift of a blanket and two silver dollars. But to Susanna, he gave a special task. She was to carry a letter of warning to Sam Houston. One of the slaves accompanied her for protection. She and her daughter left on March 7 and finally found her way to Gonzalez where Houston was camped by March 12. Susanna accomplished her mission at the tender age of 22.

Unfortunately, her tale hit a rough patch after the death of her husband at the Alamo. Penniless and with a child to support, she married a man named John Williams. The man turned out to be a brute who beat both Susanna and young Angelina. Susanna wouldn’t take the abuse, so she petitioned Harrisburg County for a divorce and was granted one of the first in that  county’s history. She attempted marriage three more times without success. Either death or divorce ended each of the relationships. Nevertheless, Susanna received praise from the Baptist minister Rufus C. Burleson for her work nursing cholera victims in Houston, where he baptized her in Buffalo Bayou in 1849.

Finally, in 1857, she met a German man in Lockhart, TX and became Mrs. Joseph Hannig. They moved to Austin where Joseph set ran a successful cabinet and furniture shop. They remained married until Susanna’s death in October 1883. After all she’d been through, I’m so glad she finally found the love of a good man.

Susanna Dickinson inspired my characters in Short-Straw Bride. As you probably recall, all four Archer brothers were named for heroes associated with the Alamo: Travis, Crockett, Bowie, and Neill. Their mother (named Susanna, of course!) had a healthy dose of Texas pride and took the call to “Remember the Alamo” to heart.

In just a couple weeks, the next Archer brother’s story will hit the shelves. Stealing the Preacher is Crockett’s story. Three years have past since Short-Straw, and Crockett has trained with a local minister to prepare himself for his dream of ministering to a congregation of his own. But when he’s on his way to a final interview, he’s abducted from a train by a gang of aging outlaws and faced with the choice of either escaping to follow his own dreams or staying to help the daughter of his captor fulfill hers.

Stealing the Preacher is avilable for pre-order now! Just click on the cover to order from Amazon.

To read the first 3 chapters for free, follow this link to my Facebook page. If you “like” the page, you gain immediate access to the content. Enjoy!

Question for you:

Do you know someone who was named for a historical figure? Or do you have family names that have been handed down through the generations?

My oldest son carries on the WDW tradition. My husband’s initials are WDW and his father’s initials are WDW. So it was important to Wes that we carry that on with our son. Finding a W name we both liked was a bit of a challenge. I finally opted for Wyatt (what western fan wouldn’t love such a name – Wyatt Earp, anyone?). The D came from my father who passed away when I was 16. His middle name was Dale, so now we were bringing in family tradition from both sides. Then, we we told my grandmother the name we had selected. She was giddy and thanked us for naming him after her. I hadn’t known until that moment that her maiden name had been Wyatt. How cool is that? I love names that are rich with family meaning!