Bolivar, Texas - Texas Gulf Coast Region
Texas Tidbits: The Story of Jane Long
People Who Shaped Texas: Jane Long, "The Mother of Texas"
We have learned so much interesting history during our travels, and often it comes from finding historical markers and sites by accident. This is one of those occasions. On a day trip to the Bolivar Peninsula after a ferry ride from Galveston, we came across a collection of Texas historical markers we had never noticed before. One of these markers tells the story of Jane Long, a pioneer woman who lived during the 18th and 19th centuries and who is called "The Mother of Texas". In this Texas Tidbit, we share an overview of the story of Jane Long and why she is important to Texas history.
Jane Herbert Wilkinson Long was born in Maryland in 1798. She married military surgeon James Long in 1815 and followed him to Texas in 1819. James Long commanded the Long Expedition in an early effort to take control of Texas from the Spanish. Long's first attempt, the occupation of Nacogdoches was unsuccessful, but they did not give up.
In 1820, the Long family, along with several other families and soldiers, built Fort Las Casas on the Bolivar Peninsula, across the bay from Galveston Island. The purpose of the fort was to protect the eastern entrance to Galveston Bay. The next year, James Long traveled to La Bahia in an effort to obtain support for their work in Bolivar. He expected to be gone for one month. Unfortunately, he was captured and killed.
With James Long away, Jane Long and her daughter stayed behind at the fort in Bolivar waiting for his return, even after all of the other soldiers and families left. It is said that she fired the fort's cannon daily to let anyone in the area know that the fort was occupied. We've also read accounts of her designing one of the first flags of Texas, now called the Jane Long flag. Her original flag is said to have featured a white star in the center of a red flag. This design was later altered by her husband, James Long, to include a smaller star and stripes in an effort to gain the attention and support of folks in the United States. Some stories say that James took the flag with him to La Bahia, so she raised her red petticoat over the fort in his absence.
While at the fort in Bolivar in 1821, during one of the most brutal winters on record, Jane Long gave birth to another daughter without assistance. And this is why she is called "The Mother of Texas". Historians report that people began referring to Long as the Mother of Texas even during her lifetime because it was believed that she was the first English-speaking woman to give birth in what would become Texas. However, in later years when historians reviewed the census, they found reports of several children being born to Anglo settlers prior to 1821. But, perhaps because of her strong pioneer spirit and the role she played in Texas Independence, the "Mother of Texas" reference stuck.
After learning that her husband had been killed in 1822, Jane Long moved her family along the San Jacinto River and, for a while, settled in San Antonio. They left Texas in 1823, but returned shortly after as part of Stephen F Austin's first colony, referred to historically as "the Old 300".
At that time, land grants were typically only awarded to male head of households. However, in recognition of everything that Jane Long had already contributed to the colonization of Texas, she was awarded her own land grant in Fort Bend County. It would be several years later, however, before she would actually live on the land granted to her. She chose first to run a boarding house in Stephen F Austin's townsite, San Felipe de Austin. In those days, San Felipe de Austin grew to be the second most important commercial center in Texas behind San Antonio.
During the Texas War for Independence, Jane Long held rallies at her boarding house, stored arms and munitions and worked to collect information from Mexican officers. (By this time, Mexico controlled Texas.) She definitely played an important role in the fight for Texas Independence. Like the rest of the residents of San Felipe de Austin, she was forced to flee the area during the Runaway Scrape: General Sam Houston's army retreated through the town after the Alamo fell, all of the residents were ordered to evacuate and the town was destroyed to keep it from falling into the hands of the Mexican army.
Some articles we have read state that Jane Long ran a popular boarding house in Brazoria County for a while. Eventually, Mrs Long settled on her property in Fort Bend County where she ran a boarding house and plantation. She sold part of her land to Robert Handy who used it to develop the town of Richmond, which became the county seat of Fort Bend. Jane Long passed away in 1880 at the age of 82. She is buried in the historic Morton Cemetary in Richmond, and recognized as a Texas Patriot and a pioneer who helped to shape Texas.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter to stay connected and receive an email with our latest posts and updates!
Tell Us What You Think! What are your favorite Texas Historical Marker stories? Please share your pictures and comments in the RV Texas Y'all Community on Facebook or in the RV Texas Y'all Community on RVillage. Not a member of one of our communities yet? We'd love for you to participate! And, of course, they are absolutely FREE! Join us to share your experiences and interact with others folks in the RV Texas Y'all communities. Want more info? Learn more about our Facebook Group!
Safe Travels and Happy Camping!