Former debutante becomes ‘Mother of Texas’
Updated: Jun 25, 2020
Heroine of the Bolivar Peninsula helped fight for Texas independence.
You’ve heard of the brave men who fought at the Alamo, who struggled to free American residents from Spanish rule and form the Republic of Texas. But have you heard about the indelible Jane Long?
Women always seem to get the footnotes of history but thanks to history lovers on the Bolivar Peninsula, Jane Long’s story continues — and grows.
A former Mississippi debutante, 18-year-old Jane Long followed her husband, Dr. James Long, and 300 troops to Texas in 1818 to free the territory from Spain. They settled in Port Bolivar in 1820 on an earthen levee created by Spanish explorer Frances Xavier Mina, protecting himself and his men from the Karankawa Indians. The outpost was situated on the tip of the Bolivar Peninsula, only a boat ride from Galveston.
At first they tried to get Galveston privateer Jean Lafitte to join the cause, with Jane dining alone with the infamous Lafitte. The hero of the Battle of New Orleans refused, not willing to cause trouble with Spain since his time on Galveston island proved quite lucrative.
Dr. Long then set out for Mexico and left Jane alone with her daughter and a maid and a few men for protection. An adoring wife, she promised to stay put until his return.
That winter of 1821 was so cold that some say the waters between Bolivar and Galveston froze over. The men fled, food became scarce, the Indians hostile and the maid ill. Jane was pregnant at the time and had to deliver the child on her own. It’s believed the child was the first baby of English descent born in Texas, thus giving Jane the nickname, “The Mother of Texas.”
Word came later that Dr. Long had died in Mexico.
Jane then moved to Brazoria, Texas, but continued the struggle for Texas freedom, organizing meetings of Texas revolutionaries Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, Mirabeau Lamar and others. She also entertained Mexican officials and Spanish representatives at her hotel and organized a ball when Austin was freed from a Mexican jail. It was at this ball that Austin incited Americans in the Texas territory to fight for independence.
After the fight for a Texas Republic was won, Jane moved to Richmond, Virginia, but her determination, spirit and resilience became an inspiration to Peninsula residents, especially after Hurricane Ike blew through in 2008. They began the festival four years ago at Fort Travis and have named a stretch of highway in her honor. In front of the park are historical markers and a flag designed by Jane for her husband’s troops to carry, one she called “the lone star.”