PORT BOLIVAR — She was the “Mother of Texas,” a strong-willed pioneer woman who endured lonely winters on the Bolivar Peninsula fighting the Karankawa while her husband led a band of soldiers to fight for Texas Independence.
She hobnobbed with pirates and politicians and saved the papers from some of the Texas Revolution’s greatest heroes.
Her name was Jane Long, and now, Bolivar locals have made sure she gets her just due.
The Bolivar Chamber of Commerce, the Bolivar Peninsula Cultural Foundation, Galveston County, Samson Energy and other groups have erected a monument to Long, once one of the most politically powerful women in Texas along
state Highway 87 near old Fort Travis.
“To see it come together has just been amazing,” said Anne Willis, vice president of the chamber and one of the cultural foundation directors.
The tan-colored obelisk stands along the roadside flanked by two historical markers recalling Long’s history and that of Port Bolivar.
Two flagstone benches, created by a local Eagle Scout for a community service project, provide a resting place for visitors in front of the monument.
A native Marylander who came to Texas via Mississippi at the age of 18, Long arrived with her husband, Gen. James Long, in 1820.
A year later, James Long left to fight for Texas’ independence from Spanish rule. Jane vowed to stay on the peninsula until her husband returned. Unfortunately, James Long was killed in Mexico City and never returned.
Nevertheless, Jane Long stayed through a brutal winter, keeping at Fort Las Casas on the peninsula even when other families left. During the winter, she gave birth to her third daughter.
She finally relented and left the peninsula after getting word of her husband’s death.
Long moved to Brazoria, where she organized meetings of Texas revolutionaries such as Stephen F. Austin, William Travis, Sam Houston and Mirabeau Lamar at a boardinghouse she operated.
Mexican troops also used the boardinghouse, allowing Long an opportunity to collect intelligence for the revolutionaries.
Long later moved to Richmond, living there until 1880.
For many peninsula residents, the monument is an extension of a newly cultured reverence for Long.
After being battered after Hurricane Ike in 2008, locals latched on to Long’s survivor spirit for inspiration.
“If Jane Long could survive the severe winter like that, we could survive Hurricane Ike,” Willis said.
Since then, Bolivar groups have created the annual Jane Long Festival, which features re-enactments, arts and crafts and a play honoring the Texas pioneer woman. Organizers expect 1,000 to 1,500 people to attend the festival.
The community also has succeeded in renaming a stretch of state Highway 87 as the Jane Long Memorial Highway, and the Galveston Oleander Society has bred a special Jane Long Oleander this year as well.
Willis said she is pleased with the new addition of the memorial, and said it’s gathered quite a few visitors.
“It’s a very nice addition to the peninsula."
At a glance
WHAT: The fourth annual Jane Long Festival
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; “Pirates and Petticoats” at 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Fort Travis Seashore Park, on the western end of Bolivar Peninsula, close to the ferry landing
COST: Admission and parking are free. Proceeds from booths and concessions benefit the Bolivar Peninsula Cultural Foundation’s projects.
New this year
- New Jane Long-related developments this year include:
- Jane Long’s portrait hung in the State Capitol in Austin.
- State Highway 87 on Bolivar Peninsula was renamed the Jane Long Memorial Highway.
- Improvements at Fort Travis, which now includes a Jane Long Pavilion, with flag poles flying the U.S. flag, Texas flag and the red Jane Long flag and new benches installed by Eagle Scout Jay Robert Kennedy, grandson of Joyce Kennedy of Crystal Beach.
- Festival tours, guided by docents, inside Fort Travis Seashore Park’s historic World War I and II fortifications.
- Festival Children’s Pavilion, sponsored by Samson Energy Co., featuring games with prizes, face painting and flavor-your-own snow cones. The First Baptist Church’s youth group will man the area.
- Festival play, “Pirates and Petticoats,” adding a new “hussy-like lady,” a dancing cowgirl, a flamenco dancer and the Ballad of Jane Long performed by Three Way Switch. Melanie Wallace, a retired college professor, will return in her role as Jane Long.