Monday, July 30, 2012

Yellow Rose of Texas

Ever wonder what the song "Yellow Rose of Texas" really means? The first recorded copy of the "Yellow Rose of Texas" was handwritten on a piece of plain paper circa 1836. The folksong's lyrics tells of a black American (presumably a soldier) who left his sweetheart (a "yellow rose") and yearns to return to her side.

The original transcription has many spelling errors, so it is believed the transcriber was somewhat uneducated, but it was signed with three embellished initials (H.B.C.). This copy is now housed in the archives at the University of Texas in Austin.

The first copyrighted edition of the song was published in New York in 1858.
The cover states it was "Composed and Arranged Expressly
for Charles H. Brown by JK." It was never known who JK was.

Soon after the song was published, it became very popular
worldwide! Yes, the song was even sung in Europe. It was adopted
as a marching song by soldiers everywhere, especially in Texas.
The song's lyrics were changed by early 1860 because it referred
to and was sung by a black American soldier, the term "darky"
was replaced with "soldier" and the first line in the chorus was
changed to "She's the sweetest little flower..." as apposed to
"She's the sweetest rose of color."

 In 1864, a fourth stanza was added to reflect the hopelessness
of General John B. Hood's retreating Texas Brigade after
its disastrous Tennessee campaign. Some of his troops were so
disoriented after the loss, they actually thought the war was over
and started returning home - singing, of course, "Yellow Rose of Texas."

Original lyrics:

There's a yellow rose in Texas
That I am a going to see
No other darky knows her
No one only me

She cryed so when I left her
It like to broke my heart
And if I ever find her
We nevermore will part

She's the sweetest rose of color
This darky ever knew
Her eyes are bright as diamonds
They sparkle like the dew

You may talk about dearest May
and sing of Rosa Lee
But the yellow rose of Texas
Beats the belles of Tennessee

In 1864 as General Hood's soldiers retreated in such confusion,
a fourth stanza was added:

And now I'm going southward
for my heart is full of woe
 I'm going back to Georgia
to see my Uncle Joe

You may talk about your Beauregard
and sing of Bobbie Lee
But the gallant Hood of Texas
played hell in Tennessee.

Some versions even read..."and sing of General Lee,"
referring of course to the Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

In 1955 Mitch Miller recorded an arrangement
for Columbia Records. The lyrics were, by then,
much altered:

She's the sweetest little rosebud
That Texas ever knew
Her eyes are bright as diamonds
They sparkle like the dew

You may talk about your Clementine
and sing of Rosalee
But The Yellow Rose of Texas
is the only girl for me!

They say that Emily D. West was the young woman of the song.
Click on Emily's name to learn more about her. She's a big part
of Texas history.

I would like to join Mary at Little Red House for
Mosaic Monday. What I didn't know was 
that Mary also has a blog with Yellow Roses!!
Imagine my surprise when I saw her
post this morning. Please pay her a visit. She's

Here's to your health!


  1. Brenda, that was absolutely and totally a remarkable history of the song. I never knew all of this and what a fantastic story!

    Thank you so much for investigating it. I love your yellow rose photos - extremely pretty, soft, and attractive, and what a soothing color yellow.

    Blessings from down the street in Texas,
    Marianne xox

  2. Very creative photos! And, I never knew . . . any of that . . . about the Yellow Rose of Texas. Quite the history!
    Thanks for stopping by today - I left a reply on your comment - that wagon post was an import from my old blog and I forget that it has the comments closed. I noticed the "comment cloud" was missing earlier and jumped in there to fix it! Thanks for your encouraging words. Enjoyed my visit here. Thanks!!!!

  3. Hi Brenda I follow back! Yes I notice it too many yellow flowers this week. Yellow makes the garden more happy looking. ^_^ Thanks for the visit.


  4. Great post sweetie, your rose photos are just so beautiful, one of my favourite flowers :) hope you are having a happy week.

    Bee happy x

  5. Love your yellow roses girl! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  6. Hi Brenda. Oh such beauty to peer into the center of flower blossoms. The secrets they could whisper, if only we could hear them~

  7. It always interests me to know the history behind a song. Thanks for sharing.