Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Former debutante becomes ‘Mother of Texas’

             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. And this weekend, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, the fifth annual Jane Long Festival will take over Fort Travis Seaside Park, just east of Galveston. 
            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.
Fort Travis Seaside Park
            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.”
            This weekend’s festival includes live music by Brian Burns, who had a hit with "I've Been Everywhere (in Texas)" (see anonymous comment below). Come dressed in period costume and enter the costume contest. You can be Jane for a day!


  1. Let's update this! The 2014 Jane Long Festival is Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. Y'ALL COME! Headlining the Oct. 11, 2014, 5th annual Jane Long Festival will be Texas's own iconic entertainer, Brian Burns, whose unique sound puts a musical slant on all things “Lone Star” with wit, warmth and style, as in his big hit, “I’ve Been Everywhere (In Texas)." His The Eagle & the Snake: Songs of the Texians album is considered a Texas classic. The Jane Long Festival at the historic Fort Travis (don't miss the guided tours) on Bolivar Peninsula (near the Bolivar Ferry Landing) celebrates Jane Long, the Mother of Texas, who was as significant a role model for Bolivar residents rebuilding after Hurricane Ike as she was in working with the heroes of the Republic of Texas. Texas Music Legend Brian Burns headlines a full day of stage entertainment that includes the delightfully updated "Pirates & Petticoats" play (Pirate Extraordinaire Jean Lafitte was another who came under Jane's spell). The many family-oriented booths include on honoring many authors of books on The Mother of Texas. All in the shadow of the historic Bolivar lighthouse one one side and Fort Travis bunkers and battery on the other. This site, which has to be the most beautiful in Texas for a festival, provides a Gulf of Mexico backdrop, replete with giant freighters, picturesque ferries, shrimpers, sailboats and myriads of shorebirds passing by. www.janelongfestival.org (713-208-6445)

  2. Thanks for the reminder. I will definitely update it.