Happy Mother’s Day to all of our famed Texas women

BrendaBy Brenda Cannon Henley
I have a program on my computer that alerts me to special days, birthdays, facts of history, and suggestions for each day. I truly enjoy learning and find something new every single day to add to my storehouse of facts, trivia, fun, and serious information. Today, I have spent a good two hours reading about famous Texas women, and in particular, mothers. It is fitting since we are today celebrating the Battle of San Jacinto in which Texas won her independence in 1836.

Among the women I read about today was Emily D. West (later changed to Morgan), a free black woman, who was very active in the Battle of San Jacinto, according to several documented sources. She somehow met and attached herself to the Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and kept him entertained during the 18 minute battle that gave Texas her freedom from Mexico. The same legend tells us that in 1858, The Yellow Rose of Texas was first released in her honor. We are told that later in her life, she was returned to New York, her home state.

Many Texas women made a defining mark on our history. Locals know well the story of Jane Wilkinson Long, one of the first residents of Fort Travis on the Bolivar Peninsula. I personally love the story of Mary Ann Goodnight, wife of the famed Charles Goodnight. Molly Goodnight is credited with helping many a sick cowboy, cooking for them, mending their travel worn clothing, and for nearly single handedly saving the disappearing buffalo herd of Texas. We read exciting stories of Cynthia Ann Parker, mother of famed Indian Quanah Parker, and her role in Texas history. Henrietta King of the historic King Ranch added to the history of Texas women and Bessie Coleman became one of the very first black female pilots.

As the years passed, more and more tough Texas women made their mark in politics, space, education, entertainment, and in countless families that changed our nation for the good. Lady Bird Johnson, Laura Bush, Ann Richardson, and Molly Ivins all come to mind. BCH_2015-0428There is just something about the strength and determination that seems to be born within the fiber of a Texas lady. They can hold their own, fight for their family members, rescue others, teach, lead, and offer encouragement, all wrapped up in a little “Bless your heart,” when they’d like to shoot you. Speaking of shooting, they’re good at that, too.

One of the happiest days of my life came when I walked into work at The Examiner one morning after moving to Texas from my home state of Georgia, and finding a beautiful navy and gold coffee cup. Although I am not a coffee drinker, the cup was priceless. It said simply, “Authentic Texan,” and the note that accompanied made my year. My friend had written, “If anyone deserves to be a Texan, you do. Congratulations.” She teased me often that I wasn’t born in this great state, but I got here as quickly as I could. I don’t think I will ever exhaust all it has to offer from Orange to El Paso and from Amarillo to Brownsville, and everywhere in between. The natural beauty is overwhelming, the work ethic dynamic, and the people energetic, fun, and friendly.

Did you know that Texas is the only state to have the flags of six different countries fly over it? They are Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate States, and the United States. More wool comes from Texas than any other state and we boast the largest herd of whitetail deer. Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in the state and wild, weird, and wonderful Austin is considered the live musical capital of the world. Texas includes 267,339 square miles or 7.4% of the nations’ total area. More land is farmed in Texas than in any other state and the Heisman trophy is name for John William Heisman, the first fulltime coach and athletic director at Rice University in Houston. Laredo is the world’s largest inland port.

The small state mammal is the armadillo and the state bird is the singing mockingbird. The state plant is the prickly pear cactus and the state flower is the cherished bluebonnet. We boast the Space Center, the Alamo, the Palo Duro Canyon, and so much more. I contend that among the greatest of our treasures are our strong and kind women. We take the name of our beloved state from the Hasinai Indian word, “tejas,” meaning friends or allies. I know that I have made friends of a lifetime and I have found them true and real in this great state, and for that, I am grateful. Happy Mother’s Day to all of our mothers — substitute, bonus, step, grand, aunts, cousins, co-workers, and neighbors. After all, here in Texas, almost everyone feels like family to me.

(This article published 4/27/2015)

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788, at
[email protected], or by using the contact form below.

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