Jane Long is still going strong

janelong_0By Linda Elissalde
Jane long represents the courage of the past,
the joy of the present and the hope for the future!

Every Texas school child knows that Jane Long is called the Mother of Texas. She earned this sobriquet because she gave birth to one of the first pioneer children in Texas. However, Jane did much more than that. Jane Long dined with Jean Lafitte, almost single handily fought off Indians, used her red petticoat for a flag, survived the terrible winter of 1821 on Bolivar Peninsula and later helped the Texans in their battle for freedom from Mexico. Her spirit became a symbol of survival for Bolivar residents after Hurricane IKE.

It was this spirit that motivated the Bolivar Peninsula Cultural Foundation (BPCF) to grow stronger and continue bringing cultural events to our community. BPCF existed before IKE and provided art, music and history for the whole peninsula. Although their art gallery was destroyed in that horrific storm, BPCF did not stop.

BPCF directors Anne Willis and Margo Johnson were having lunch and discussing what could be done to bring some upbeat fun to the peninsula after the trauma of IKE. Since Jane Long survived through that horrible winter of 1821, Anne and Margo focused on creating a Jane Long Festival. Art, history and music would be honored. Oh yes! How about a little skit and some hot dogs to entice folk to come out to Fort Travis Seashore Park?

JL-1

The Jane Long Festival was born. BPCF supported the effort with booths, book signings, art, music, food, and the somewhat historically accurate play PIRATES AND PETTICOATS: Jane Long on the Bolivar Peninsula written by Linda C. Elissalde. This event brought thousands of people to Fort Travis every October for 7 years. BPCF, Wayne Mouton and Bolivar Chamber of Commerce helped to purchase a stage for this highly successful venue and also community use.

BPCF officers and directors discovered that there was no mention of Jane Long in the Texas State Capitol. They soon rectified that! An oil portrait of the Mother of Texas now hangs in the Library of the State Capitol, and HWY 87 was renamed The Jane Long Memorial Highway. Samson Energy donated funds for the main portion of a Jane Long monument near Fort Travis Seashore Park. BPCF purchased flag poles, and the Bolivar Bloomers donated plants. Director Ange Scheibel assisted with the planting. She is currently encouraging the growth of a special Jane Long Oleander.

The Jane Long Festival has been discontinued, but the indomitable strength of Jane Long continues under BPCF leadership. President Charlotte Stirling looked for a location to house a new art gallery. Gallery by the Gulf, an artist co-op, was the brainchild of Director Glenda Mastin, and a place to display art and history became real.

Oh, but there is more. BPCF continues to present a series of lectures with outstanding guest speakers. Birds, books, geology, history, pirates and even wine tasting have been subjects for gatherings. Delicious homemade appetizers whet appetites for whatever may be served up as interesting topics for discussion.

Jane Long survived in the past and still represents the hope for the future. There are myriad activities that will continue to grow. Ralph Stenzel has worked tirelessly to repair the fort’s bunkers. Tours of these underground treasures will soon be available. The rough, tough re-enactors who fired guns and canons during our festivals will be back to create excitement at the fort. Perhaps fireworks will once again light up the sky near our ferry landing.

It is amazing what a little get together with a skit and hot dogs became! Thanks to the Bolivar Peninsula Cultural Foundation, Jane Long’s spirit doesn’t just survive; it thrives. BPCF welcomes volunteers and new members for exciting future activates. You can join and share in the fun!

There is no more a festival
To honor Mother of Texas Jane Long,
But the spirit of our pioneer lady
Is still growing and going strong.

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One Response to “Jane Long is still going strong”

  1. Brenda Beust Smith says:

    I hope this story continues to be told . . . not only about the Jane Long Festival, but of all the achievements Linda describes above. Perhaps in some new building, a historical room could tell the story in pictures, etc.

    It is really incredible what these folks have achieved, especially in the face of generations of Texans who before had (and unfortunately many who still have) no idea of Jane Long’s Bolivar story, much less her invaluable role in establishing the Republic of Texas.

    Why hasn’t someone made a movie about Jane Long? Maybe someday . . .

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