Texana from Maggie Lambeth Rare Books
By Michael Stillman
This month we review our first catalogue from Maggie Lambeth Rare Books, Maps & Prints, of Blanco, Texas. Blanco is located in the Texas Hill Country, west of Austin, north of San Antone, a dividing line between the flatlands to the east and deserts to the west. This was home country for a president, but not one you're thinking of. The LBJ ranch is just down the road. What could be a better place for a seller of Texana? Maggie Lambeth won't disappoint those who collect the Lone Star, of which there are many. Lambeth's catalogue 52 is titled Texana and San Antonio. Of course, San Antonio is the center of historical Texas, it being the site of the Alamo. Remember? Here are a few of the nearly 500 items to be found in this catalogue.
Do you know who was the heroine of the Alamo? Note the operative word is "heroine," not "hero," so that eliminates Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and others of their gender. The heroine was Andrea Castanon Villanueva, wife of Canelario Villanueva, and better known as Senora or Madam Candelaria. According to her account, she was born in 1785 in Laredo. At the time of the siege of the Alamo, she was a resident of San Antonio who acted as a nurse, helping the sick, poor, and raising many orphans. According to her account, she went to assist the defenders of the Alamo and was present during the siege. At the time Mexican troops entered, she stated that she was giving water to Jim Bowie, desperately ill with typhoid. She claimed he died in her arms, she receiving a wound to the chin when Bowie was stabbed, from which she carried a scar the remainder of her life. Madam Candelaria's story did not receive much press until around 1890, when interviews with her were published in San Antonio newspapers. Keep in mind her date of birth. She died in 1899, at the supposed age of 113, which may seem a bit far-fetched, but one of the reporters who interviewed her when she was still only 103 said she looked her age, if not more, at the time.
As for some recent claims that Davy Crockett died not in the Alamo, but was executed later, Madam Candelaria said he was one of the first to fall. Historians are divided on whether she actually was there, but her knowledge of the place and events, and her general location at the time, make her story at least plausible though perhaps not likely. Some believe she had been inside the Alamo, and was nearby during the siege, but not inside at the critical time as she claimed. Item 8 is a 1933 booklet by Maurice Elfer, Madam Candelaria, Unsung Heroine of the Alamo. Including a Personal Account of the Faithful Woman who, Staying in the Mission when the Battle Raged and Doomed men sold their lives dearly as possible, obeyed Sam Houston's Trust and was wounded by Mexican Bayonets while trying to protect dying Bowie. Elfer became aware of her story while researching San Antonio newspapers for information about Bowie. This book is priced at $45.