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Monday, June 23, 2014

Fort Davis, Texas is Rich in Legend

Texas. The entire uniquely-shaped state, boot-deep in  is tall tales and true to life history, has been a 10-gallon source of inspiration for many of those who are passionate about the pen. Myself included.

From the counties of El Paso to Hidalgo and Lipscom to Zavala, in each and every county you're sure to find your share of local lore and legend that some might just swear is based in truth. Take Fort Davis (Jeff Davis County) for example.
In the late 1800's (around 1860) it is rumored that a young Apache girl was found wounded after a skirmish between Cavalry troops stationed at the fort and the local Indian population. She was taken back to the fort and the mother of Lt. Tom Eason (Mrs. Eason) took her in and named her Emily, nursing her back to health and allowing her a home on the post - where she grew up and fell in love with Tom.

Tom's feelings for her were not returned and he instead married a white girl, after which Emily slipped away and rejoined her band. After learning of a major attack planned on the fort, Emily stole away again in the night, this time to the fort to warn her love of the impending assault. She was mortally wounded by a nervous sentry.

She died, but not before professing her love for Tom again and warning of the attack, thus saving many soldiers' lives. Maybe Tom's included. She was buried in the post cemetery. But Emily's story doesn't end there. 

Fort Davis was abandoned in 1891 and all of those entombed there relocated to San Antonio . . . except Emily. After having her story confirmed by a one-time Lieutenant named Henry O. Flipper who spent time at the fort, the state of Texas erected a marker in her memory. In 36 words, it told of the of her love for a soldier and her death because of it that saved old Fort Davis from massacre. 

The marker has been since removed and placed in storage, with access limited to the purported site of her burial and counter-rumors flying, swearing her story is pure fiction. 

Me? I saw the marker as a young girl when visiting the fort with my parents. I have gone back in search of it as an adult only to find it gone. 

So, if federal agents won't let us have our romantic legends, it is up to us to keep them alive in the pages of a book. Which is precisely why I wrote the four-book Saga of Indian Em'ly. The first in this series is out now and titled The Apache and the Pale Face Soldiers


So real or fake? It's up to you to decide. However to quote the editor of the Shinbone Star  in the last scene with John Wayne's remains in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, "When the legend becomes fact . . . Print the legend."

13 comments:

  1. What an interesting post, Sara! Now I know the story behind the story! BTW, I truly did love this first installment of your Indian Em'ly series. Those kids just stole my heart! (And great quote, too--that's one of my favorites!)
    Cheryl

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    1. I thought you might like that quote Cheryl!! The second book, On the Colorado Trail, is on its way to you soon!

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  2. Sara,
    I wonder if the question about the truth has anything to do with Flipper who was the first African American and former slave to graduate West Point and was plagued by rumors of 'impropriety' and court-martialed (over turned in the 1990's). I personally believe the story true and thank you for bringing it back to life. Doris

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    1. That may be, Doris. Good catch! Apparently, Barry Scobee swore truth to Indian Em'ly's legend and he was the head man around the Davis County area for awhile, even having a mountain named for him to this day!

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  3. Sara, the mountains around Fort Davis were the inspiration for my novel, Touch of Texas. Thanks for the trip down memory lane - and CONGRATULATIONS on the release of The Saga of Indian Em'ly!!!

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    1. Thank you, Tracy! Are you in the area? I am going to check out Touch of Texas!!

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  4. I'm so glad you told us about this story, Sara, otherwise we might never know about Emily. What a mean thing to do to take that monument away. The government gives and the it taketh away.
    Congratulations on your teaching contract. Can your day get any better?
    All the best to you...

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    1. Thank you Sarah! I wonder what they ever did with that monument . . .

      Hugs!

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  5. Sara-- have books with the story about Indian Em'ly, and of course it is all legend. But we can still write and talk about the story as if it were true. It's no different from modern day authors taking the story of the first romance authors and telling their story as though we knew all the facts. It's the same as historical fiction. I'm so pleased you will teach--ex-teacher here. I taught in San Marcos Baptist Academy, private military boarding school--high school students. Congratulations on your new life. Teaching is different now, but still, I say those were the best years of my life. Good luck.

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    1. Thank you Celia! I suppose she could certainly be legend . . . But who knows? It sure is fun to speculate :-) Hugs to a fellow educator!

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  6. Sara, I loved your story. How terribly sad that they took down Emily's monument. Her legacy will live forever in your stories.

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    1. Thank you Barb! I think they should certainly bring it out again :-)

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  7. Barbara,

    It's those little snippets of legend, little bits of history that often spark the best stories. The what-ifs kick in and the plot develops from there. Emily's story is such a bittersweet one. Thank you for explaining the history of it.

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