SAN ANGELO, Texas — Every born and raised Texan knows that Stephen F. Austin is considered the “Father of Texas” but may not have known about the “Mother of Texas,” Jane Herbert Wilkinson Long.
Long was born on July 23, 1798, in Charles County, Maryland, as the tenth child of Capt. William Mackall and Anne Herbert (Dent) Wilkinson according to the Texas State Historical Commission. Long would go on to outlive both of her parents and meet her soon-to-be husband, James Long, while living with her older sister, the wife of Alexander Calvit, at Propinquity Plantation near Natchez. Jane and James Long were married on May 14, 1815, and had three children together, Rebbecca, Ann, and Mary James.
Early into their marriage James Long would go on to accept a commission as general to lead an expedition to Texas and took Jane and their first daughter Ann, born in 1816, to Texas in 1819. That same year the Louisiana Purchase was signed at the Sabine River excluding Texas which enraged James Long. In response, he began an expedition to liberate Texas from its Spanish ruler and left for Nacogdoches in June shortly before Rebbeca was born.
Jane began her own journey to Nacogdoches and left her oldest daughter, Ann, in Rodney, Mississippi, with Anne Chesley – (Jane’s older sister) and left her newborn Rebbeca with the Calvits in Louisianna after becoming very ill and unable to care for herself and her children.
Two months after Jane Long’s arrival in Nacogdoches she had to flee to the Sabine when Spanish troops from San Antonio approached the frontier outpost. After seeing her husband Jane returned to the Calvits where she found that little Rebecca had died.
In 1820, the Long family helped build Fort Las Casas in the Bolivar Peninsula to help protect Galveston Bay. It was here that Jane Long gave birth to her third daughter, Mary James, on December 21, 1821, during one of the most brutal winters on record. This earned Jane Long the title of “The Mother of Texas” because it was believed that she was the first English-speaking woman to give birth in what would later become Texas. This would prove to be inaccurate in time but because of her role in Texas Independence, the name stuck.
Shortly before the birth of their third child, James long left Jane for La Bahía. He was captured at San Antonio and taken to Mexico City where he was accidentally killed on April 8, 1822. James Long was only supposed to be gone for a month and Jane long refused to leave the fort without her husband, even after the guard and other families had abandoned it in his absence.
Several months came and went and Jane long held fast to the fort, firing canons once a day to deter Karankawa who loomed around the fort and raised her red petticoat to mimic the fort’s flag which was considered by some to be the first Texas flag.
Upon receiving word of her husband’s death Jane Long sought out a pension from Governor José Félix Trespalacios, her husband’s former associate in San Antonio but was not successful and would later lose her youngest daughter, Mary James, in June of 1824.
Not all was lost to Jane Long however and on August 24, 1824, she received a title to a league of land in Fort Bend County from impresario Stephen F. Austin as part of his famous “Old 300″. Jane Long also bought W. T. Austin’s boarding house and operated it for five years. After many years of sacrifice in the fight for freedom in the effort to form the Republic of Texas, Jane long pass away on December 30, 1880, at the home of her grandson, James E. Winston.