Women of Early Texas History
In the Early days of Texas history, the influence of dynamic women is well known. These ladies were wives and mothers, community negotiators, farmers, bullet makers, administrators, entrepreneurs, stateswomen, explorers, and fighters. The liberty of Texas was won because men and women worked together for the greater cause. Many of these Texas heroes professed their love and dependence on God.
Now known as the Mother of Texas, Jane Long was a devoted spouse and homemaker. Born in Maryland in 1798, she and her husband James migrated to the Bolivar Peninsula. In 1821, James left for an expedition, leaving Jane in a desperate struggle to survive. When she learned of her husband’s death, Jane and her only surviving child, Annie, left Texas briefly, but returned to live the rest of her life. Jane was a resilient and resourceful woman who, in her 82 years, succeeded in operating two boarding houses, and developing a flourishing plantation. As a true Proverbs 31 woman, she bought and sold real estate, raised cattle, and grew cotton. Her last words before dying in 1880 were, “I’m waiting on the Lord and I am ready.”
Some of the true heroines of Texas were in Austin’s Old Three Hundred Colony. Aunt Lucy Foster and Elizabeth Tumlinson were honored and respected by everyone. Rebekah Cumings, boldly came to Texas as a widow with her sons and daughters. Her daughter Rebecca was engaged to William B. Travis who died in the Alamo. Amy Comstock White loved Texas and encouraged her sons to fight in the Texas Revolution.
Mary Christian Burleson played a key role in the history of Austin’s Old Three Hundred Colony and the Republic of Texas. She was an independent business woman, stock raiser and farmer, granting the lands that became Elgin, Texas. She was the wife of Thomas Christian who was killed at Wilbarger Massacre, second wife of James Burleson Sr., hero of the Grass Fight, and stepmother of Gen. Edward Burleson, commander at the siege of Bexar and Vice President of the Republic of Texas 1841-44. In Mina (Bastrop), Mary helped organize the second oldest Methodist church in Texas.
Then there was the “Angel of Goliad” Señora Francisca Alvarez. When the Mexican army was about to massacre all of our brave Texas soldiers in the Battle of Goliad, Francisca begged for the lives of 20 men to be saved. Among those spared were Benjamin Franklin Hughes, the Texas army drummer boy. Dilue Rose Harris made bullets for the Texan Army. Indian Emily gave her life to warn Fort Davis of an imminent attack by the Indians.
Louisa Ervendberg was the wife of a pastor in 1844. She loved God so much that she had given up a stable life in Chicago to follow her husband to frontier Texas to share the message of Christ. Due to Indian attacks and disease, she lost several of her children, but she remained true to her Godly calling. In 1848, a deadly fever hit their community, and scores of children were left as orphans. Louisa and her husband invited many of the children into their home. As the numbers increased, they finally opened the West Texas Orphan Asylum near Gruene. This Godly woman should be greatly honored today for her selfless efforts to help the helpless in the Name of Christ.
Finally, there was Martha White McWhirter of Belton, Texas. In 1866, after attending a revival service, the Lord gave her a vision and told her, “It is time to take thought of your life and the evils around you.” In prayer, Martha experienced the “Pentecostal Baptism” that changed everything in her life. She started a ministry to abused, abandoned, and widowed women. Her group became known as “Sancties,” and provided women income, hope, and a safe place to live.
Bottom line: God impacted Texas through anointed women of prayer and courage. Let us pray that this will continue even today. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30)