Mary Jones: Last First Lady of the Republic of Texas

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Abstract This dissertation uses archival and interpretive methods to examine the life and contributions of Mary Smith McCrory Jones in Texas. Specifically, this project investigates the ways in which Mary Jones emerged into the public sphere, utilized myth and memory, and managed her life as a widow. Each of these larger areas is examined in relation to historiographicaly accepted patterns and in the larger context of women in Texas, the South, and the nation during this period. Mary Jones, 1819-1907, experienced many of the key early periods in Anglo Texas history. The research traces her family’s immigration to Austin’s Colony ... continued below

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Fish, Birney Mark December 2011.

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  • Fish, Birney Mark

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Abstract

This dissertation uses archival and interpretive methods to examine the life and contributions of Mary Smith McCrory Jones in Texas. Specifically, this project investigates the ways in which Mary Jones emerged into the public sphere, utilized myth and memory, and managed her life as a widow. Each of these larger areas is examined in relation to historiographicaly accepted patterns and in the larger context of women in Texas, the South, and the nation during this period. Mary Jones, 1819-1907, experienced many of the key early periods in Anglo Texas history. The research traces her family’s immigration to Austin’s Colony and their early years under Mexican sovereignty. The Texas Revolution resulted in her move to Houston and her first brief marriage. Following the death of her husband she met and married Anson Jones, a physician who served in public posts throughout the period of the Texas Republic. Over time Anson was politically and personally rejected to the point that he committed suicide. This dissertation studies the effects this death had upon Mary’s personal goals, her use of a widow’s status to achieve her objectives, and her eventual emergence as a “Professional Widow.” Mary Jones’s attempts to rehabilitate her husband’s public image provided her with opportunities which in turn led her into a larger public sphere, enabled her to maintain her social-economic status as a widow, and to shape the public image of both her husband and parts of the Texas image. Mary Jones attempted to publish Anson’s papers, rehabilitate his memory, and preserve papers and artifacts from the period of the Republic. Directly and indirectly this led to the preservation of the San Jacinto battlefield, the reburial of her husband, the discovery of a copy of the Texas Declaration of Independence, the founding of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, and her key role as steward of the Alamo. The research uses archival and interpretive methods to examine Women’s organizations and clubs as they emerged during her lifetime and her role as member or leader. Hundreds of Mary and her family’s personal letters survive in various Texas archives. Additionally, Anson’s journals and personal memoirs provide invaluable insight into Mary’s family life, character, and relationships. This research will include a review and comparison of her efforts with other women who in the process of protecting and reconstructing their husband’s images moved into a larger public sphere. Mary Jones served as president of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas for seventeen years. This provided her with the platform she needed to promote Anson’s image, focus memory and money upon the Texas Republic era, and move into a public sphere for herself. This dissertation contends that the work that Mary Jones did in her efforts to construct a positive public image for her husband eventually drew her into state-wide leadership roles, aided her to successfully reach social-economic goals even though widowed, and to effect the preservation and role of the Alamo in public memory.

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  • December 2011

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Oct. 2, 2012, 4:18 p.m.

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  • June 14, 2017, 3:31 p.m.

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Fish, Birney Mark. Mary Jones: Last First Lady of the Republic of Texas, dissertation, December 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103314/: accessed April 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .