This Brave Wife and Mother Was the Betsy Ross of Texas

Jane Lengthy had been left alone at coastal Level Bolivar, Texas, with a 5-year-old daughter and a new child to have a tendency. A 12-year-old slave woman named Kian was there to assist, however she too needed to be fed and sheltered. Lengthy grew more and more nervous as hostile Karankawa Indians gathered throughout the channel on Galveston Island to eye the all-but-abandoned Level Bolivar outpost. On high of all the pieces else winter had come.

In 1819 the US and Spain signed the Adams-Onís Treaty, which ceded Florida to the previous and outlined the border between the States and the shrinking viceroyalty of New Spain. Against the pact have been many American and French settlers within the South. Amongst them was James Lengthy

Born Jane Herbert Wilkinson in Charles County, Md., on July 23, 1798, she was the final of 10 youngsters and skilled trials early in life. A 12 months after Jane was born, her father died. In 1811 the Widow Wilkinson moved her youngsters to the Mississippi River city of Washington, the capital of Mississippi Territory (present-day Mississippi and Alabama). However a 12 months later she died, orphaning the youngsters. Jane moved in with older sister Barbara and husband Alexander “Sandy” Calvit, a captain with the territorial militia, at Propinquity Plantation close to Natchez. It was there in 1815 she met and married Dr. James Lengthy, who had served as a U.S. Military surgeon below Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson on the January 8 Battle of New Orleans, the climactic conflict of the Struggle of 1812. The couple settled at Lengthy’s close by plantation, Walnut Hills, the place their first youngster, daughter Ann, was born a 12 months later.

However hassle was quickly once more brewing. In 1819 the US and Spain signed the Adams-Onís Treaty, which ceded Florida to the previous and outlined the border between the States and the shrinking viceroyalty of New Spain. Against the pact have been many American and French settlers within the South. Amongst them was James Lengthy, who promptly gathered some 300 males—together with Jim Bowie and Ben Milam—for an invasion of Spanish Texas. (He additionally sought in useless to recruit French pirate Jean Lafitte. who had participated within the preventing at New Orleans). On arrival in Texas in June 1819 the expedition captured Nacogdoches, and Lengthy’s followers presumptively proclaimed him president of the primary Republic of Texas. Later that month, days after having delivered her second youngster, a lady named Rebecca, Jane left their daughters within the care of sister Barbara and joined her husband. However his time period in workplace and the republic itself have been short-lived. In October a Spanish military drove out the would-be filibusters. Sadly, throughout her mother and father’ absence from the States, toddler Rebecca had died.

Round 1820 Jane designed this banner with a purple discipline and white star which will have been Texas’ first ‘Lone Star’ flag.
(Glasshouse, CC by-SA 3.0)

Escaping to Natchitoches, La., Lengthy instantly started recruiting males for a second expedition into Texas. Lastly, in April 1820 he headed to the Gulf Coast with Jane, daughter Ann and the slave woman Kian to his new headquarters at Level Bolivar, reverse Galveston Island on the mouth of the namesake bay. There his males erected a crude mud fort defended by a single cannon. Round this time Jane is alleged to have designed a flag for the expedition, that includes a purple discipline with a single white five-pointed star (she later added 13 alternating red-and-white horizontal stripes and moved the purple discipline and its white star to the canton, echoing the American flag). Jane dubbed it the “lone star,” intending it to signify her husband. The flag could have been the primary “lone star” flag in Texas.

After greater than a 12 months on the distant outpost, maybe seeing the handwriting on the wall, males began to abandon. Regardless, on Sept. 19, 1821, an undeterred Lengthy kissed his spouse goodbye and boldly sailed off with most of his remaining 56 filibusters to combat the Spanish. Unknown to anybody at Level Bolivar, he was captured at La Bahía inside days of getting landed in Texas. In the meantime, within the firm of three different civilians and simply 4 troopers, Jane, daughter Ann and Kian have been about to face one of many worst winters on document.

This 1872 lighthouse overlooks the spot at Level Bolivar as soon as occupied by filibuster James Lengthy’s lengthy gone mud fort.
(Anna Donnarumma/Dreamstime)

Pregnant together with her third youngster, Jane resolved to attend at Level Bolivar for her husband’s return. However within the coming weeks and months, as provides dwindled and no phrase got here of the expedition’s destiny, the opposite settlers started leaving, and the troopers abandoned. Finally, solely Jane and the 2 ladies remained.

When the provisions gave out, the trio survived on fish and oysters scavenged from the bay. All of the whereas the Karankawas on Galveston Island watched and waited. Jane saved them at bay by periodically firing the cannon, making them imagine the outpost remained occupied and as formidable as ever. Some accounts declare she flew a purple petticoat from a pole in imitation of a battle flag and donned a uniform left by the deserting troopers to additional keep it up the deception.

On December 21 the dauntless 23-year-old, with the preteen Kian’s assist, delivered daughter Mary James within the chilly consolation of an ice-covered tent. Lastly, with the spring thaw in 1822, a celebration of Texas-bound American settlers landed on the outpost, bringing the unhappy information that on April 8 James Lengthy had been shot useless by one among his guards in Mexico Metropolis. With no extra cause to carry the fort, Jane lastly left Level Bolivar together with her daughters and Kian.

In keeping with household lore, a number of well-known Texans courted the “Mom of Texas,” however Lengthy died a widow on Dec. 30, 1880.
(Galveston & Texas Historical past Heart)

After visiting Mexico Metropolis to inquire about her husband’s dying, Jane spent the subsequent decade dividing her time between Texas and Mississippi. In 1832 she purchased William Tennant Austin’s Brazoria, Texas, boardinghouse and ran it for 5 years. Three years later it hosted a cocktail party to welcome again Stephen Austin (no relation to William Austin) from his personal imprisonment in Mexico Metropolis. In 1837 Jane moved to land granted her by that “Father of Texas” in newly included Richmond, the place she opened one other boardinghouse and began a plantation south of city. By the 1861 outset of the Civil Struggle she’d acquired 19 slaves and greater than 2,000 acres of land. After the battle she continued working the land with the assistance of tenant farmers. Daughter Ann, who lived close by, died at age 53 in 1870.

In keeping with household lore, over time Widow Lengthy was courted by—and refused marriage gives from—Stephen Austin, Ben Milam, William Travis and Sam Houston. Jane died a widow at age 82 on Dec. 30, 1880. Since her dying varied authors and boosters have erroneously credited her with having given delivery to the primary youngster born in Texas to English-speaking mother and father, which was not true. A number of had been born earlier than Mary entered the world in an ice-covered tent. Nonetheless, the monument atop Jane Lengthy’s grave at Richmond’s Morton Cemetery bears the inscription THE MOTHER OF TEXAS. WW

this text first appeared in wild west journal

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