Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Yellow Rose of Texas

Years ago, I sat on my patio and overheard a conversation next door. The new neighbor from Illinois and her relatives sat on her screened-in porch, discussing Texas. One asked, “What is the State Flower of Texas?”
“Hmm,” she mused, “I believe it is the yellow rose.”
“Ahhh, yes,” replied a male, “from that song—The Yellow Rose of Texas.”
All agreed and moved on to another topic. I continued reading my paper, but chuckled to myself.
Every Texan knows the bluebonnet is our beloved state flower, and I wager many from other states know, as well.
So, what does the term “The Yellow Rose of Texas” signify?
“The Yellow Rose of Texas” is a traditional folk song of Texas, and has become the unofficial state song. (Few Texans know the name of the real state song.) No one knows who wrote it, but it is a tribute to a beautiful young mulatto woman. According to legend, she was the heroine of the Battle of San Jacinto.
Emily D. West (or Morgan), a free African-American woman, was seized by Mexican forces during the looting of Galveston. According to legend, General Santa Anna was so preoccupied with the captured servant girl that he failed miserably as commander of the Mexican Army. The unprepared Mexican troops were so overwhelmed by Sam Houston and his volunteer army of Texians that the battle lasted only 18 minutes. The Battle of San Jacinto ended the Texas Revolution and made Texas an independent nation.
THE SONG: 1858 Minstrel version
There’s a Yellow Rose in Texas that I am going to see,
No other darkey knows her, no darkey, only me.
She cried so when I left her, it like to broke my heart,
And if I ever find her, we never more will part.
Oh, my feet are torn and bloody, and my heart is full of woe;
I’m going back to Georgia, to find my uncle Joe.
You may talk about your Beauregard, and sing of General Lee,
But the gallant hood of Texas, played hell in Tennessee.
Note: the word “darkey” was replaced with “soldier” throughout the song and chorus.

Skillet Cheddar Cornbread (Yellow cornbread)
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
Mix thoroughly.
Pour batter into hot, greased 10-inch iron skillet
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until cornbread is golden
(Recipe and portions of the “Yellow Rose of Texas” from Texas Tastes and Tales)

Celia Yeary
ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Texas Historical
Available in eBook: The Wild Rose Press
Available in print:, B&N


  1. Wonderful reminder of a Texas Treasure. My husband and I (both native Texans) immediately knew the official state song- Texas, Our Texas.

    And your cornbread recipe has my mouth watering!

  2. Celia!!!


    I am going to make this recipe, too. I have a wonderful recipe for cornbread that is almost like cake, it's so sweet and good. Made from scratch. But I must confess, in my last few years, I go for the box of JIFFY mix and whip it up fast. Still, this recipe is very tempting, and I'm thinking adding a can of chilis might be something that my husband would like. LOL I didn't know the story behind The Yellow Rose of Texas, but I have always loved that song and it was one of the first songs I learned to sing. VERY INTERESTING!!!


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  4. Celia,

    I deleted a duplicate of my earlier comment--it acted like it wasn't going to post, but it posted twice (cause I hit it twice to make it go!) LOL

  5. Heh. I would turn over my Texas club card if I didn't know the state flower. ;)

    Good blog.

  6. I like your new look. Maybe I should rejuvenate my blog. I was one the ignorant non-Texans who thought the yellow rose was your state flower.

  7. Teri--I'm a member of the Daughters of the Texas Republic, and we sing the state song--haven't leanred it yet--and we say the Pledge to the Lone Star flag, and haven't leanred that yet, either! I'm a newbie there--three years--and they're going to kick my out if I don't leanr it! Celia

  8. Hi Celia,

    I have to admit, though I'm a northerner, I did actually know the bluebonnet was the Texas State Flower...because of research I did for Fated Hearts which is set in the wonderful state of Texas! lol

    I love your blog, hun. It looks great!


  9. Cheryl--yeah, I have a recipe for cornbread that tastes almost like cake, too. But it's just not southern cornbread--yes, do add pepper--jalapenos would be best. That's what I do.
    Jiffy Mix--I, too keep 2-3 boxes. I made one last night. The Jiffy company is in Ann Arbor, MI, where my kids live. They give tours to school children and they get a box of cornbread mix and a little paper chef's hat.And..Remember The Alamo! for sure.

  10. Diana--isn't that the truth? No self-respecting Texan would not know the state flower. But what's the state mammal? Huh? This is harder. Celia

  11. Well, Mona, you're forgiven if you're not a Texan, dear. and thanks for the compliment on my blog's new look. It sort of rejuvenates me to do something like this. thanks for stopping by--Celia

  12. Thanks, Donna--we don't run into each much anymore, do we? And good for you knowing about the bluebonnet.Glad you like my blog look. Celia

  13. Hello Celia!

    What an interesting bit of history! I love hearing about the origins of songs, phrases and words. Fascinating!

    The recipe looks tasty too. *grin*

    Thanks for a wonderful post!

    Chiron O'Keefe
    The Write Soul:

  14. And thank you, Chiron--now go make some cornbread! Celia

  15. Celia, that's fascinating. Interesting how those traditional songs change over the years depending on events. I always love your Texas photographs, you've introduced me to something I knew nothing about and now I think I would love to visit there one day. :) And as for the cornbread recipe with CHEESE in it, oh, my! Once I've off this darned low-fat diet, I will have to make this. It sounds WONDERFUL!

    nice to see you. :)

    Jane x

  16. Hi Celia, you always have such interesting posts! And I may just try your recipe tomorrow; I have to make something for the dressage competition at our stables this weekend, and this sounds like something riders might enjoy!
    xx Francesca

  17. Jane--that's so sweet--thank you. Low-fat diet--do not eat cornbread--mainly becasue you need to slather it with sweet cream butter!And if you do visit, do not come in June, July, August, September, or October.Visit in March or April.

  18. Hey- Francesca--Well, probably anyone would like cheddar cheese cornbread. Be sure to provide lots of butter! I hope Your daughter(?) does well in the dressage competition. Celia

  19. Interesting post, Celia.

    I'm from the Sunflower State, so I didn't know the state flower of Texas. I've lived in Missouri for over forty years and still don't know the flower for that state. lol

  20. Celia, great story. Amazing how that song can be misleading.

  21. Thanks, Sandy. So glad you stopped. Most people don't pay attention to any of these "state" symbols. they're meaningless, when you get right down to it. Celia

  22. Steph--exactly. I think during wars, songs were sometimes used to relay secret messages. But this one--no one really knows how it began. Celia

  23. mmmm cornbread. I'm in my not-quite-back-on-the-diet phase and all bread glitters like Las Vegas lights. I can't recall the last time I had cornbread. I should fix some up soon. Love the new look of your blog. You are really moving along quite well in cyberspace.


  24. Thank you, Maggie--you're a very supportive friend--I appreciate it. Now if I can figure out Goodreads and how to let them say I'm only 20 (you know 50's not right) I'd be happy.
    I love cornbread, almost any kind, any form. It should be hot, though, with lots of butter. Celia

  25. Great post, Celia. My grandmother loved yellow roses and I do too, but of course I knew they aren't the state flower.

    Thank you for the recipe. My grandmother made hot water cornbread in a skillet.


  26. Linda--I remember hot water cornbread, too. But my mother made cornbread like this recipe, except no cheese. Her's was dense and crusty and not very thick. Wonderful cornbread--just right with that big ol' pot of pinto beans with ham. Celia

  27. Celia--I can relate. Most people thing Florida's State tree is the Live Oak, but it's really the cabbage palmetto. Interesting article.

  28. Celia, I'm late getting here but better late ..... I enjoyed the article. And yellow roses are my favorite flower. If I ever learn how to manage my web site, I may be tempted to follow your example and create a blog. You inspire me!

  29. there was also a show called the Yellow Rose of Texas with Sybil Sheppard and Sam. :-) But I didn't know about the 18 minute battle. Great entry and thanks for the warm welcome.