Senator Cornyn

Texas Grit and Motherly Love

May 10, 2024

Mother’s Day is a time to honor the incredible women who shape our lives with their love, guidance, and unwavering support. The invaluable role mothers play in our society cannot be understated. They commit themselves wholeheartedly to their families’ well-being, which often includes waking before dawn to prepare breakfast, balancing the demands of a career, and offering late-night words of encouragement. Much like the sturdy oaks that adorn Texas’ landscape, they weather the winds of change and provide strong roots to anchor their family.

The history of celebrating mothers dates as far back as 250 BC, when the ancient Greeks and Romans would throw spring festivals to honor their goddess of motherhood and fertility. However, the practice didn’t become widely accepted in North America until the early 20th century, thanks largely to the efforts of a mother-daughter duo named Ann and Anna Jarvis.

Ann Jarvis first organized “Mother’s Friendship Day” and other events during the Civil War to unify families and educate them on everything from disease prevention to childcare. Following Ann’s passing, Anna carried on this legacy by advocating for a national Mother’s Day. Her efforts resulted in President Woodrow Wilson’s official declaration of the first national Mother’s Day in 1914 as a day to honor mothers, particularly those who had lost sons in World War I.

Given this holiday is all about mothers, it’s only fitting we also highlight the story of Jane Wilkinson Long, a woman often referred to as the “Mother of Texas” and believed to be the first English-speaking woman to bear a child in the Lone Star State. While this claim has since been debunked, she continues to receive acclaim for embodying the spirit of a Texas mother in the early days of our state’s history.

Born one of ten children in 1798, orphaned at 15, and married at 17, Jane emerged as one of the earliest Anglo-Americans in Texas, a region coveted by both the United States and Spain at the time. In 1819, her husband led a military expedition to claim Texas for the United States. Jane joined him in Nacogdoches and later settled near Galveston at an outpost established to help free Texas from Spanish rule. Her husband left on an excursion in 1821 before he was captured and later killed in Mexico City, leaving Jane to persevere with two children and one on the way. Unaware of her husband’s passing for many months, she endured a harsh winter by hunting game, fishing through ice, and gathering oysters on Bolivar Island. With true Texas grit, Jane overcame many obstacles to protect her children and build a new life for them.

Jane’s story epitomizes the essence of Mother’s Day, showcasing the boundless and sacrificial love inherent in motherhood. Her tale resonates deeply with mothers and all Texans who know what it means to do whatever it takes to support your family.

As Mother’s Day approaches, let us not forget to honor our own mothers. Whether through gifting a bouquet of roses, cooking a meal for them, or expressing a simple note of gratitude, let’s honor their impact in our lives and recommit to celebrating these remarkable women not just on this day, but every day.