Zavala, Emily West de (1809–1882)

By: Margaret S. Henson

Type: Biography

Published: February 1, 1996

Updated: January 15, 2021

Emily West de Zavala, wife of the first vice president of the Republic of Texas, was born on September 9, 1809, in New York state, possibly in Albany or Brooklyn. She married Lorenzo de Zavala in New York City on November 12, 1831, at the Church of the Transfiguration. They eventually had a daughter and two sons. In early 1833 Emily left New York to join her husband in Toluca, Mexico, where they remained until he was named Mexican minister to France in October 1833. The couple left Paris for New York by 1835, however, because Zavala had disassociated himself from Antonio López de Santa Anna's increasingly dictatorial course. Emily de Zavala arrived at Morgan's Point, Texas, in December 1835. Zavala had bought a home on a labor of land north of Buffalo Bayou, called Zavala Point, the previous summer. Emily's citified ways reportedly were not popular in the neighborhood. When Santa Anna's troops approached in April 1836, the Zavalas fled down the San Jacinto River to the home of William Scott, where a number of families awaited a steamer to take them to safety on Galveston Island. Before the boat arrived Mrs. Zavala attempted to return to her home for a chest of silverware, but she met others fleeing the Mexican troops and retreated to Galveston. The Zavalas returned to their home in June to find that the buildings had been used for a hospital. Zavala's health declined, and he died in November. Emily returned to New York City in 1837 and soon married a German immigrant, Henry M. Fock (or Folk). The couple returned to Zavala Point in early 1839; they had two children. Emily became a widow again in September 1849, and on March 5, 1851, she married a sawmill owner, E. D. Hand. After his death around 1860, she remained at her house on Buffalo Bayou until it burned about 1866. By 1870 she moved to Galveston, where her eldest son, Augustine Zavala and his family, lived (see ZAVALA, ADINA EMILIA DE). She sold the land at Zavala Point to her second son, Richard, to keep the family cemetery in the family. Emily de Zavala died on June 15, 1882, in Houston and was buried at Zavala Point.

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Charles Adams Gulick, Jr., Harriet Smither, et al., eds., The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1920–27; rpt., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968). Margaret Swett Henson, Lorenzo de Zavala (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1996). John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973).

  • Women
  • Politics and Government
Time Periods:
  • Mexican Texas
  • Texas Revolution
  • Republic of Texas
  • Antebellum Texas
  • East Texas
  • Upper Gulf Coast

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

Margaret S. Henson, “Zavala, Emily West de,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022,

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February 1, 1996
January 15, 2021

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