Category Archives: Yellow Rose – The Runaway Scrape

3rd in the series, The FAITH Chronicles

Sam Houston and Dilue Rose Dance to ‘Giraffe’s Waltz’

One of the most important aspects of writing a scene in creative historical nonfiction is the requirement of teleporting oneself back to the time of the event. Exhaustive research is necessary in order to describe events in the best story-telling manner possible.

One of the scenes in the book is where Sam Houston and Dilue Rose are chosen to lead a Grand March at her best friend’s wedding. She was the Maid of Honor and he was the Best Man. As a disc jockey for oldies radio station KOOL99 in Austin, Texas for several years, I performed over 500 weddings and knew the Grand March dance like the back of my hand. At almost every wedding reception, I would line the people up and demonstrate how the Grand March is done. The music would begin and everyone enjoyed the beginning of the dance.

But, it is the waltz I was having a problem with in my writing. My memory fades, but I am able to transport myself back in time many years ago when I was a clumsy and awkward youth taking dance lessons at the Wintermann Community Center in Eagle Lake, Texas. This was the time that my interests, other than football, began to turn in the direction of girls. My mother grew up enjoying to dance and had the foresight to realize that dancing was an important skill. I stood there on the dance floor (my mother was a chaperone), not scared to dance, but scared to hold a girl’s hand. But, no matter, I learned how to waltz, that’s what is important. At this time in my life, it was nothing more than a way to meet girls and the significance and importance of the dance historically was furthest from my mind. I do, however, look back on the good ole days and learning to dance as fun and enchanting.

In writing my scene, I closed my eyes and pretended I was Sam Houston for a moment. How to grasp and gently hold my partner’s hand? How not to bring my dance partner too close to my body? Oh, and yes, when I closed my eyes I saw Rhett Butler dancing with Miss Scarlett O’Hara…how beautiful they could glide across the ballroom.

But, again, one has to look at music from many different eras to get the full impact of dance. That’s right, 1957! You might ask, ‘how does a writer come up with the stuff they write.’ My grandparents, especially my grandmother, covered her eyes and could not believe how vulgar it was to watch Elvis dance on the Ed Sullivan show. In the early 1800’s. In France, Ernst Moritz Arndt described the waltz as erotic and lustful in nature. In England, a mother could barely stand next to the ballroom floor and watch her teenage daughter so engaged. In the 1830’s, at the time that Sam Houston and Dilue Rose danced the waltz at the wedding, Johann Strauss had changed the complexity of the dance and helped legitimize the waltz as the finest and most beautiful graceful dance of the time.

Again, with my eyes closed, trying to find the words to write the scene, the words began to fall effortlessly to the paper. Something as simple as writing the scene between Sam Houston and Dilue Rose in THE YELLOW ROSE – The Runaway Scrape, was fun, much like my learning to waltz in Eagle Lake, Texas where I was enchanted by the creativity of the music and its sublime beauty.

Now, an entirely different part of this scene, the Dance Card, really required extensive research, but that is another post for another time.

Sean E. Jacobs

Was Sam Houston a Coward? THE YELLOW ROSE – The Runaway Scrape

During the writing of THE YELLOW ROSE – The Runaway Scrape, my studies of Texas history at Texas A&M University taught me that Sam Houston was not a coward. At least, shame on me if I dare write that he was, right?

One hundred and seventy-eight years ago, General Sam Houston fled from a large army commanded by General Antonio de Padua Maria Severino Lopez de Santa Anna y Perez. The government of Texas, the Texian soldiers, and the people of Texas were shouting that he was a coward the entire time he fled in the direction of the Sabine River. A lot of thought and research goes into writing creative historical nonfiction. I had to ask myself, “Was the victory at the Battle of San Jacinto a result of military genius or was General Houston’s victory an accident?

One piece after another in the puzzle in answering this question continued to pop up in my writing of the women and children trying to reach the Sabine ahead of Santa Anna. When I started writing this third novel in the Faith Chronicles, I must be honest, I didn’t know how to characterize Sam Houston whatsoever. But after a comprehensive study of his escape and the adversities he faced, I began to really understand what Sam Houston experienced those several weeks during the runaway scrape.

General Sam Houston lacked the support from most of the Texas people. Many did not want to fight. Many deserted. Many did not follow orders (they were, after all, volunteers). Sam Houston only had seven hundred men, and just a few days before the Battle of San Jacinto, one of his not so ardent supporters left Houston’s army and took four hundred men with him!

I firmly believe that it was fate and not military genius, with later planning on Houston’s part, that led to the success of the Battle of San Jacinto. I need to paint a picture for you here. How many are familiar with the Treaty Oak in Austin, Texas? How many are familiar with the numerous tanker trucks full of spring water that parked under the tree and intravenously fed the water to the poisoned oak? Did you ever stand under the massive oak and stare at its majestic and magnificent arms reaching out? I did!

A tree just like this stood outside Tomball,  Texas in a small community called New Kentucky. Sam Houston and his army pulled up to the tree and two massive arms of the tree were held up and pointing in two different directions. One of the arms pointed to the east leading by the Trinity and to the Sabine River where US forces would be waiting for him to help, if he were to get that far. The other long drawn out arm  of the oak tree pointed in the direction of Harrisburgh. Where does fate come into the equation? Sam Houston, with his officers stood under the tree, backed up a few steps, and looked at the tree. “Men, this old oak tree has been standing here for two hundred years. It continues to stand here proud!” One of the arms is longer and larger than the other and pointing in the direction of Harrisburg. “Men, we go thataway!” One of the volunteers turned and faced his fellow Texian. “Do you believe that? The General just looked at that tree, asked himself “whichaway’ and decided to go to Harrisburgh, just because one of those limbs is larger than the other.

This tree, which not much is written, has been referred to as the Whichaway Tree in history writings. It still stands today outside of Tomball, Texas and is every bit as majestic as it was one hundred and seventy-eight years ago.

I honestly believe that Sam Houston deserves the credit for the Battle of San Jacinto as being one of the top ten most decisive battles in the world’s history. Some have it in the eight position.