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José Antonio Menchaca

24 Dec

For many years, there was a road in south Austin called Manchaca Road. After some legal issues, in 2019 the name was finally changed to Menchaca Road. Some of the objections were voiced by local residents and businesses from a group known as Leave Manchaca Alone, and possibly others. The objections included arguments that Manchaca Road was perhaps not named for the individual who fought in the Texas Revolution, rather that instead it was derived from a Chocktaw word or had some other origin, that the name change would disrupt business, that property owners did not receive the proper notice of the proposed change, etc. An opposing group named Justice for Menchaca was in favor of the name change. Ultimately the judge’s decision favored renaming the street Menchaca rather than Manchaca in honor of José Antonio Menchaca.

At present, there is still an unincorporated community southwest of downtown Austin with the name Manchaca. Manchaca Springs is still the name that applies to several springs on a small tributary of Onion Creek in Travis County. Manchaca Springs was also a stage stop and watering hole on the Old San Antonio Road.

The application for the change of the name of the road stated that José Antonio Menchaca fought as a soldier under five of the six flags over Texas and that politically he was against succession and slavery. The application also put forth that the misspelling arose back in the 1800s, possibly taking its name from the two syllable contraction of the name as “Manchac.” Also, Austin ISD named an elementary school in his honor in 1973, correctly spelling his last name Menchaca.

Just who was his man? José Antonio Menchaca was born in San Antonio de Bexar on January 9, 1800. He was the son of Mariano Menchaca and Maria De La Luz Guerra. He is said to have gone by Antonio. His grandfather had settled in the area under a Spanish land grant. Menchaca joined the Texas forces in 1835 and participated in the Battle of San Jacinto, serving under Juan Seguin. Menchaca was said to be fluent in Spanish and English and in addition to taking arms with the Texas forces, he served as an interpreter in his company. Menchaca served honorably for at least around ten years and on May 26, 1846 he was issued a certificate entitling him to 640 acres of land for having participated in the Battle of San Jacinto.

Image credit: findagrave.com

Menchaca rose to the rank of Captain. He had married the former Maria Leonor Teresa Ramon in 1826 and the couple had as many as five daughters, per traditional genealogy sources. After the Texas Revolution, he had also served in a frontier company to defend the area between the Rio Grande and the San Antonio rivers. During his tenure in San Antonio, he served as an alderman and mayor pro tem. Menchaca lived a long and productive life. José Antonio died on November 1, 1879 and is buried in San Fernando Cemetery #1 in Avenida Guadalupe near the convergence of Apache Creek and Alazan Creek, southwest of downtown San Antonio. In 1936, in connection with the Texas Centennial, the State of Texas erected a monument in his honor at his gravesite.

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Posted by on December 24, 2020 in biography, hispanic heritage, texas revolution

 

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