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ALSBURY, JUANA GERTRUDIS NAVARRO

ALSBURY, JUANA GERTRUDIS NAVARRO (1812–1888). Juana Navarro Alsbury, among the survivors of the battle of the Alamo, one of three daughters of José Ángel Navarro and Concepción Cervantes, was born in San Antonio de Béxar in 1812 and baptized on December 28 of that year. Her father was a long-time government official of San Antonio de Béxar. Her uncle José Antonio Navarro, a loyal Tejano, signed the Texas Declaration of Independence.

After her mother's death Juana was reared by her godmother and aunt, Josefa Navarro Veramendi, and her husband Juan Martín de Veramendi in the Veramendi Palace near Main Plaza in San Antonio. As a young woman she met prominent Texans who came there. Her cousin and adopted sister Ursula Veramendi was married to James Bowie, who is thought to have brought Juana, her baby son Alejo Pérez, and her younger sister Gertrudis to the Alamo (see ALAMO NONCOMBATANTS) when Antonio López de Santa Anna captured San Antonio on February 23, 1836. Dr. Horace Alexander Alsbury, Juana's husband, left the Alamo that same day, probably with messenger Dr. John Sutherland. He may have been looking for a safe home for his family. Juana helped nurse Bowie during his illness in the Alamo. Months later Susanna Dickinson accused Juana of being the legendary Mexican woman who carried Travis's parley message to Santa Anna on March 4 from the Alamo, as well as saying Juana left the Alamo with her father before the siege on March 6. Other sources refute these stories. According to Juana's personal account, she remained at the Alamo throughout the siege. On the final day she was protected by two men who were killed by Mexican soldiers who broke into a trunk and took valuables of Juana and her family. After the battle of the Alamo Juana, her son, and her sister stayed at her father's home.

Juana was first married in 1832 to Alejo Pérez Ramigio, with whom she had a son, Alejo. Some sources say that she also had a daughter who died in infancy. Perez died in 1834, possibly in the cholera epidemic. Juana married Horace Alexander Alsbury, by some accounts, in early January 1836. During their eleven-year marriage Alsbury was often away from San Antonio involved in revolutionary activities in Mexico, along the Rio Grande, and in South Texas. He did not survive his Mexican War military service and died, presumably in Mexico sometime in 1847. Alejo Pérez, Juana's son, was a long-time local San Antonio city official whose descendants still live in San Antonio.

When Alsbury was marched to Mexico with other San Antonio captives of Adrián Woll's invasion in September 1842, Juana followed the Texan prisoners as far as Candela, Coahuila, where she waited for Alsbury's return. He came there for her after his release from Perote prison in 1844, and the couple again made their home in San Antonio. After Alsbury's death Juana married Juan Pérez, her first husband's cousin.

Although she probably wrote few letters, her signature appears on numerous Bexar County land documents and in the state archives on legal petitions to the Texas legislature. She petitioned the legislature in 1857 and received a pension for the belongings she lost at the Alamo and for her services there. She probably died on July 23, 1888, at her son's Rancho de la Laguna on Salado Creek in east Bexar County. She is said to have been buried there, although other information gives her burial place as a Catholic cemetery in San Antonio.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

John S. Ford, Mrs. Alsbury's Recollections of the Alamo (MS, John Salmon Ford Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). John Ogden Leal, San Fernando Church Baptismals, 1812–1825 (MS, DRT Library at the Alamo, San Antonio). San Antonio Daily Express, July 26, 1888, May 12, 19, 1907. Glenn Scott, "Juana Navarro de Alsbury," in Women in Early Texas, ed. Evelyn M. Carrington (Austin: Jenkins, 1975).

Crystal Sasse Ragsdale

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Crystal Sasse Ragsdale, "ALSBURY, JUANA GERTRUDIS NAVARRO," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fal49), accessed July 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Modified on July 30, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.