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WILKINS, JANE MASON

WILKINS, JANE MASON (1787–ca. 1848). Jane Wilkins, early Texas settler and member of the Old Three Hundred, was born in Kentucky in 1787, the daughter of Robert Mason. She headed one of the first households located on the site of future Houston. In the early 1800s she married a man named McCormac, or McCormick, with whom she had at least two children. She later married a man named Wilkins, and her daughters, Mary and Jane, went by his surname. Jane Wilkins moved as a widow to Texas in 1822 with a group of about thirty relatives and friends led from Florence, Alabama, probably by her father. Traveling in a 120-foot keelboat launched in Vermillion Bay near Attakapas, Louisiana, the Mason party arrived in Galveston Bay in July or August of 1822. There they shared their provisions with earlier colonists who were marking time while Stephen F. Austin traveled to Mexico City to confirm his colonization contract. Robert Mason and his wife were elderly and soon died from the adversities of the trip. Dissident relatives sawed off half of the long keelboat and departed on a return journey to Alabama, but Wilkins and her daughters remained in Texas, where Mary soon married a Dr. Phelps, who died in 1823. Afterward Wilkins and her daughters resettled in San Felipe de Austin, where they conducted a business as seamstresses for the public; at times Wilkins also kept a boardinghouse. As one of the Old Three Hundred, she received a league of land as her headright on May 26, 1827, in what was to become Fort Bend County. In 1830 her younger daughter, Jane, became the third wife of the alcalde, Thomas Marshall Duke, nephew of United States Chief Justice John Marshall and one of the leading men in Austin's colony. In 1831 Mary Phelps received a league of land as her headright in what is now Fayette County and soon thereafter married Scotsman John Aitken, publisher of the Mexican Citizen, formerly the Texas Gazette. Jane Wilkins and Mary continued in business, although Jane Duke lived in affluence. After San Felipe de Austin was burned in March 1836 during the Texas Revolution, Wilkins relocated her home in Matagorda, where she helped care for the six Duke children and the children of her daughter Mary. She died sometime between November 13, 1847, and July 27, 1848.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Charles Adams Gulick, Jr., Harriet Smither, et al., eds., The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1920–27; rpt., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968). C. Anson Jones, "Extracts from an Historical Sketch of Harris County," in James Burke, Jr., Burke's Texas Almanac and Immigrant's Handbook for 1879 (Houston, 1879; facsimile, Austin: Steck-Warlick, 1969).

Deolece M. Parmelee

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Deolece M. Parmelee, "WILKINS, JANE MASON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwi14), accessed November 24, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.