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.
Click here to return to top.
Column 115: All in the Family
Column 114: The Alabama State Quilt
Column 113: Balloon Quilts of Albuquerque
Column 112: The Family That Quilts Together, Stays Together
Column 111: Two Rivers, Three Sisters
Column 110: Quilters Helping Quilters
Column 109: Community Cookbooks and Fundraiser Quilts—Parallel Histories
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
Column 103: 1936 Texas Centennial Bluebonnet Quilt
Column 102: Helen Blackstone, A Texas Quilter
Column 101: Montana CattleWomen Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 100: 100th Suzy's Fancy Column!
Column 99: Montana Stockgrowers Anniversary Brand Quilt
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
Column 86: Linzi Upton and the Quilted Yurt
Column 85: A Bounty of Quilts
Column 84: Desert Trader
Column 83: Quilts and the Women’s Liberation Movement
Column 82: Replicating the Past: Reproduction Fabrics for Today’s Quilts
Column 81: Why So Many Quilt Shops in Bozeman, Montana?
Column 80: Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum
Column 79: 54 Tons of Quilt
Column 78: Ollie Steele Burden’s Quilt Blocks
Column 77: Quilting with AMD
Column 76: Maverick Quilts and Cowgirls
Column 75: The Modern Quilt Guild—Cyberculture Quilting Ramps Up
Column 74: The Membership Quilt—Czech Quilting in Texas
Column 73: Maximum Security Quilts
Column 72: Author: Terri Thayer
Column 71: The Christmas Quilt
Column 70: New Mexico Centennial Quilt
Column 69: Scrub Quilts
Column 68: “Think Pink” Quilt Raises Funds for Rare Cancer Research
Column 67: Righting Old Wrongs.
Column 66: 100 Years, 100 Quilts - More on the Arizona Centennial.
Column 65: Arizona Centennial Quilt Project
Column 64: Capt. John Files Tom’s Family Tree
Column 63: The Fat Quarters
Column 62: Quilt Fiction Author: Clare O’Donohue
Column 61: Louisiana Bicentennial Quilt
Column 60: The Camo Quilt Project.
Column 59: Thread Wit
Column 58: Ralli Quilts
Column 57: Preschool Quilters
Column 56: The Story Quilt
Column 55: Red and Green Quilts
Column 54: On the Trail
Column 53: Quilt Trail Gathering
Column 52: True Confessions: First Quilt
Column 51: Quilted Pages
Column 50: Doll Quilts
Column 49: More Than a Quilt Shop
Column 48: Las Colchas of the Texas-Mexico Border
Column 47: Literary Gifts
Column 46: A Different Way of Seeing
Column 45: Sampling
Column 44: Hen and Chicks
Column 43: A Star Studied Event
Column 42: Shoo Fly Pattern
Column 41: Awareness Quilts
Column 40: Tivaevae
Column 39: UnOILed UnspOILed Coast Quilt Project
Column 38: Katrina Recovery Quilts
Column 37: Quilted Vermont
Column 36: The Labyrinth Quilt—A Meditative Endeavor
See other archived columns here