Wilkinson Long, "Mother of Texas "
the early Texas pioneers such as Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston,
there was among them a woman whose courage and dedication not
only assured her survival but also gained the traditional title
of "Mother of Texas."
Wilkinson was born July 23, 1798 on a Maryland plantation, youngest
of a family of ten children. After her parents’ deaths she lived
with family members in the Natchez , Mississippi vicinity. Also,
as was the custom of the time, she was assigned a young slave
girl as a companion/servant. This was Kianatia or "Kian"
as Jane called her, who would not only remain with Jane all
met Dr. James Long in 1815 when he arrived in Natchez to treat
soldiers wounded in the Battle of New Orleans that were staying
in her family home, and they married in May of 1815.
the next few years James practiced medicine, purchased a local
plantation, and then moved to Natchez to set up a retail store.
Their first daughter Ann Herbert was born in 1816. About this
time James considered settling in Texas and was appointed leader
of a group of other Natchez residents with the same interest.
He traveled to the newly developed Texas community of Nacogdoches
, but because Jane was expecting their second child, she delayed
joining him till the baby was born. When Rebecca was born in
1819 she set off with the infant, toddler Ann and 12 year old
Kian to join her husband. However, various events prevented
their immediate reunion and it wasnt until 1820 that they were
back together, but without baby Rebecca who had died earlier.
moved his family to live in a fort community at Point Bolivar
near Galveston Island .
in September, 1821 Long set off for Mexico , leaving a pregnant
Jane with the other immigrants in the fort.
winter of 1821 was extremely bitter, and the other settlers
began to drift away, until finally Jane and her small family
and Kian were the only ones left. Finally, with only Kian to
help her on December 21, 1821 she gave birth to her last child,
Mary James, who was long considered to be the first Anglo child
born in Texas . Jane and the others survived by chopping fish
and ducks out of the frozen Galveston Bay , and to discourage
any potentially hostile Indians, she occasionally fired off
an old cannon and hoisted her red petticoat on the flagpole
to make it appear the fort retained its troops.
in 1822, with food scarce and her husband’s return uncertain,
when other immigrants passed through she joined them. She later
heard that James had been killed the previous April in Mexico
City , a possible victim of assassination.
Jane returned to Louisiana but soon after she decided to return
to Texas . Stephen F. Austin was recruiting new settlers for
a land grant he’d acquired and when Jane returned she did it
as one of Austin ’s "Old Three Hundred" colonists
in 1824. She received land grants in what are now Waller and
Fort Bend Counties , then lived nearby till 1830, when she went
to live briefly in Mississippi briefly while daughter Ann attended
school, then was married in 1831. Jane returned to Texas in
1832 with Ann and her husband, where she operated a boarding
house near Brazoria in 1832.
1837 Jane moved to her land grant near the town of Richmond
(now a Houston area suburb), and developed her plantation into
one of the most profitable in the area. As the Civil War drew
near, Jane remained loyal to the South and put her commitment
into action when she refused to wear clothing not made in the
South. She had her dresses all made from the cotton from her
own plantation. Her faithful aide Kian passed away but her granddaughter,
also named Kian, remained with Jane even after emancipation.
her old age Jane became "Aunt Jane" or "Grandma
Long" a beloved character who used homegrown tobacco in
her pipe as she rocked on the front porch. She died on December
30, 1880 and was buried in Richmond .
tradition and folklore relate that Jane Long was courted by
several of Texas ’ leading men, including Sam Houston, but she
never remarried. Still, she would not need such a connection
to achieve a place in Texas history, for through her own courage
and determination, she accomplished that on her own.
Adams is a writer/teacher living in Houston , Texas