Capt. John Files Tom’s Family Tree
Capt. John Files Tom’s Family Tree
John Files Tom was a major player in Texas history. Born in Tennessee in 1818, he moved with his family to Texas in 1835 and when he was 17, he joined the volunteer army fighting for Texas’ independence from Mexico.
He served under Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston, participating in several of the most famous battles of that war. During the battle of San Jacinto—which the Texans won and which ended the military conflict—a musket ball shattered Tom’s knee. He recovered from that injury and went on to serve as a Texas Ranger during the Civil War.
Before his death in 1906, he also served as sheriff of Guadalupe County and was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. Tom was married twice: first to Mary Ann Moffitt, with whom he had four daughters, and after her death, to Nancy Henderson; they had eight children together.
One of those eight children was the grandmother of noted Sherman, Texas quilt artist and pattern designer Shirley Fowlkes Stevenson. In 1984, Shirley decided that she wanted to make an historical quilt to commemorate the 150th birthday of Texas in 1986, and she looked no further than her own great-grandfather for inspiration.
For two years Shirley worked on an album quilt, Capt. Tom, A Tall Texan, which features her original appliqué scenes from Tom’s remarkable life. The quilt has won numerous awards and it was chosen for inclusion in Lone Stars III: A Legacy of Texas Quilts, 1986-2011, the third in the trilogy of books documenting great Texas quilts by Karey Patterson Bresenhan and Nancy O’Bryant Puentes. It was also chosen to be part of the inaugural exhibition at the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, Texas.
La Grange is a delightful small city in east central Texas, and the Texas Quilt Museum is a welcome addition there, bringing many new visitors to the community. The mayor of La Grange, Janet Moerbe, is especially excited about the Museum. She was fully expecting to be awed and inspired by the quilts on display, but she was definitely not expecting to see a relative of hers depicted in one of them. Imagine her surprise when, entering the space and seeing Captain Tom, A Tall Texan hanging on the wall, she realized that she was looking at a depiction of her great-, great-uncle’s life.
Janet Moerbe’s great-, great-grandfather was John Files Tom’s brother. The mayor knew all about Captain Tom, because she had recently completed all the research and paperwork necessary to become certified as a Daughter of the Republic of Texas (DRT). DRT membership is limited to descendents of those who served Texas prior to 1846, when Texas ceased being a separate country and became one of the United States.
Shirley Fowlkes Stevenson is also a member of the DRT, but she did not know about Janet Moerbe’s great-, great-uncle. The two women are planning on getting acquainted when Shirley visits the museum in the near future. No doubt their shared ancestry will be high on their list of conversational topics. It seems as though Captain Tom is still making history.
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Column 111: Two Rivers, Three Sisters
Column 110: Quilters Helping Quilters
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Column 108: Quilting to Freedom
Column 107: National Quilting Day
Column 106: The Airing of the Quilts
Column 105: A Call for a National Juneteenth Commemorative Quilt
Column 104: Dominoes
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Column 102: Helen Blackstone, A Texas Quilter
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Column 100: 100th Suzy's Fancy Column!
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Column 98: The Tobacco Sack Connection
Column 97: Meet the Sisters Who Are State Fair Quilting Queens
Column 96: The connection between fairs and quilts.
Column 95: Her Mother Pieced Quilts
Column 94: Rebecca Barker’s Quiltscapes
Column 93: The Thread and Thimble Club Mystery
Column 92: The Ballerina Quilter
Column 91: Grandmother's Flower Garden Comes Alive at Texas Quilt Museum
Column 90: Leitmotif for a Lifelong Love Affair
Column 89: Quilting in The Bahamas
Column 88: Joan of Arc: A Quilter's Inspiration
Column 87: Home Demonstration Clubs and Quilting
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Column 85: A Bounty of Quilts
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Column 67: Righting Old Wrongs.
Column 66: 100 Years, 100 Quilts - More on the Arizona Centennial.
Column 65: Arizona Centennial Quilt Project
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Column 54: On the Trail
Column 53: Quilt Trail Gathering
Column 52: True Confessions: First Quilt
Column 51: Quilted Pages
Column 50: Doll Quilts
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Column 46: A Different Way of Seeing
Column 45: Sampling
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