Jane Long of Texas, 1798-1880: A Biographical Novel of Jane Wilkinson Long of Texas, Based on Her True Story
Spanish Texas of the early nineteenth century was a strange, wild land. It took extraordinary men to settle this land. It took even more extraordinary women. Petrick tells the story of one such woman, Jane Wilkinson Long.
Jane Long’s story begins in 1815 in Natchez, Mississippi, where she lives with her prominent uncle, General James Wilkinson. There she meets and marries a young adventurer, Dr. James Long, a veteran of the War of 1812. It soon becomes apparent that James’ ambitions are beyond that of a simple town doctor. His obsession turns to the governorship of Texas, and it is into Texas that General Long leads his army to take Nacogdoches. Jane follows and thenceforth spends most of her young married life following and waiting for her husband. When James Long is “accidentally” killed by a Mexican sentry, Jane is left to raise her children alone. She rises to the occasion admirably, and it is from this point that Jane comes into her own.
Petrick’s historic data seems to be very close to the mark. There is, however, some information that may be questionable, such as whether Mary James, Jane’s second child, was in fact the first Anglo child born in Texas. Also, much effort is spent in characterizing Jane Long as a beautiful romance novel heroine. It is easy to see from the existing photos that Jane Long was no real beauty but perhaps just one of a very few women in the territory, which would explain her large number of suitors and admirers. The historic Jane Long did not need beauty. She had something more substantial: determination and a strong sense of self. Amidst the revolution that would gain Texas its independence, Jane Long proved herself to truly be the Mother of Texas.