A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

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Entry from June 04, 2008
Mother of Texas (Jane Long)

Jane Herbert Wilkinson Long (1798-1880) was called the “mother of Texas” by at least 1894. Long came to Texas in 1819 and was one of the first Anglo women (although not the very first) in the territory of Texas. After her husband (James Long) was killed, she became an innkeeper and briefly knew Stephen F. Austin (called the “father of Texas”).

Several books about Jane Long’s life have been written with “Mother of Texas” in the title.


Great Texas Women - University of Texas at Austin
Jane Long
‘Mother of Texas,” 1798-1880


Orphaned as a child, married at age 16, a mother at 18, and a widow at 23, Jane Long survived by pluck and perseverance as Texas emerged onto the world stage. In 1819 her husband led a filibustering expedition from Mississippi with the goal of wresting Texas from Spain. Pregnant Jane stayed behind until her baby was born, then set out to follow him with infant Rebecca, toddler Ann, and slave girl Kian.

Along the way Jane fell ill and reluctantly left her daughters with relatives in Louisiana. She finally caught up with her husband at Nacogdoches, Texas, but baby Rebecca died before the couple could return to claim their children.

James Long soon departed on a mission to recruit the pirate Lafitte. Jane remained at Nacogdoches but fled in alarm at the sign of approaching Spanish troops. For a brief time, the family reunited, then James resolved to seek more volunteers for his cause. He left Jane, Ann, and Kian in a fort on Bolivar Peninsula near Galveston Island.

The quest went awry when James was captured, sent to Mexico City, and killed. Pregnant again and awaiting his return, Jane insisted on staying at the fort through the winter even as other occupants drifted away because of lack of food. She was alone except for Kian and Ann when she gave birth to her third daughter on December 21, 1821. An immigrant party passing nearby rescued the starving refugees. Little Mary James Long lived only until age two.

Jane was granted land in Texas as part of Austin’s colony. In 1832 she purchased an inn in Brazoria and ran it with the help of her surviving daughter and Kian. Prominent leaders of the Texas Revolution met here to discuss politics. Five years later Jane opened another inn and developed her land grant into a prosperous plantation. By 1861 she managed more than 2,000 acres.

An ardent Confederate supporter, Jane rejected products of Northern manufacture and wore cotton clothes made on her own plantation during the Civil War.

Jane was not, as sometimes claimed, the first English-speaking woman to give birth in Texas. Yet by her unwavering tenacity, she earned the title “Mother of Texas.”

LONG, JANE HERBERT WILKINSON (1798-1880). Jane Herbert Wilkinson Long was called the “Mother of Texas,” even during her lifetime, because of the birth of her child on Bolivar Peninsula on December 21, 1821. She was not, however, as she claimed, the first English-speaking woman to bear a child in Texas. Censuses between 1807 and 1826 reveal a number of children born in Texas to Anglo-American mothers prior to 1821. Jane was born on July 23, 1798, in Charles County, Maryland, the tenth child of Capt. William Mackall and Anne Herbert (Dent) Wilkinson.
(...)
In 1837 the widow, age thirty-nine, moved to her league, a portion of which she had sold to Robert E. Handy who developed the town of Richmond, the county seat of Fort Bend County. Jane opened another boarding house and also developed a plantation two miles south of town. She bought and sold land, raised cattle, and grew cotton with the help of slaves (twelve in 1840). Her plantation was valued at over $10,000 in 1850. By 1861 she held nineteen slaves valued at $13,300 and about 2,000 acres. When the war ended, she continued to work the land with tenants and briefly experimented with sheep. In 1870 she lived by herself next door to Ann who had married James S. Sullivan; Ann died in June, leaving the care of Jane to the grandchildren. By 1877 Jane was unable to manage her diminished estate valued at only $2,000. She died on December 30, 1880, at the home of her grandson, James E. Winston, and was buried in the Morton Cemetery in Richmond. Folklore and family tradition hold that Jane was courted by Texas’s leading men, including Ben Milam, Sam Houston, and Mirabeau B. Lamar, but that she refused them all. Her history depends primarily on her own story told to Lamar about 1837, when he was gathering material for a history of Texas. In 1936 a centennial marker was erected in her honor in Fort Bend County.

The Institute of Texan Cultures
Jane Herbert Wilkinson Long (1798-1880) was often called the “Mother of Texas” by earlier generations, then “Mother of Anglo Texas” by those who suddenly remembered Native American and Spanish women. Yet—on the evidence of several census records—she is not the first Anglo woman to give birth in Texas.

Her life, nevertheless, includes many notable stories: keeping up with a wandering, revolutionary husband until his death; dining with the infamous Jean Laffite; enduring loneliness and starvation, Indian assaults and deaths of children; running boarding houses; becoming a landowner and plantation operator; experimenting with sheep raising in early Texas; and (mostly in her words)
being romantically approached by Ben Milam, Sam Houston, and Mirabeau B. Lamar. Not at the same time. She refused them all.

8 April 1894, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, pg. 22, col. 3:
“MOTHER OF TEXAS.”
How Mrs. Jane Long Came to Be
Given the Title.

HER DEVOTION AND GREAT COURAGE.
During the Trying Time When Texas Was
Struggling for Independence from Mex-
ico—Adventures with Her Husband.

(...)
WILLA LLOYD JACKSON.

OCLC WorldCat record
History of Fort Bend County containing biographical sketches of many noted characters: General M.B. Lamar, president of the Republic of Texas, Mrs. Jane Long, called the “Mother of Texas,” “Deaf Smith” the famous spy and scout, the Bordens, printers, soldiers and inventors, Mier prisoners, Santa Fe prisoners and some of Fannin’s men, all of whom are buried in the cemetery at Richmond
by A J Sowell
Type:  Microform; English
Publisher: Houston, Tex. : W.H. Coyle & Co., stationers and printers, 1904.

27 August 1916, San Antonio (TX) Light, pg. 13, col. 2:
“THE MOTHER OF TEXAS”
Heroic But Pathetic Experiences of the Leader of Long’s Expedition, An Ill-fated Attempt to Wrest Northern Mexico, Including Texas, From the King of Spain

OCLC WorldCat record
A daughter of Maryland was the mother of Texas, Mrs. Jane Herbert (Wilkinson) Long
by Alexander Hamilton Bell
Type: Book; English
Publisher: [Washington, D.C., The Law reporter printing company, 1937]

OCLC WorldCat record
Alone by the sea; the story of Jane Wilkinson Long, Mother of Texas.
by Effie Missouria Pitchford Moore
Type: Book; English
Publisher: San Antonio, Naylor Co. [1951]

OCLC WorldCat record
Jane Long, mother of Texas : danger, hardships and the loss of her husband and children did not defeat this stalwart southwesterner
by Louise Cheney
Type: Article; English
Publication: West. Vol. 4, no. 3 (Feb. 1966)

OCLC WorldCat record
Jane Long, “Mother of Texas” : San Jacinto Festival, West Columbia, Texas, April 21, 1973.
by West Columbia Chamber of Commerce (Tex.)
Type: Book; English
Publisher: [West Columbia, TX : West Columbia Chamber of Commerce, 1973?]

OCLC WorldCat record
Jane Long, the mother of Texas
by Catherine Troxell Gonzalez; NetLibrary, Inc.
Type: Internet Resource; English
Publisher: Burnet, Tex. : Eakin Press, ©1982. 

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Wednesday, June 04, 2008 • Permalink