Manchola, Rafael Antonio (unknown–ca. 1833)

By: Craig H. Roell

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: April 1, 1995

Rafael Antonio Manchola was an important public official in De León's colony and neighboring La Bahía and represented his district in the state legislature of Coahuila and Texas. He was the son of an aristocratic Spanish family. He married María de Jesús (María Jesusa) De León, fourth daughter of the empresario Martín De León, for whom he served as business agent and attorney. The wedding was one of the significant social events of the colony. The couple had one daughter. Manchola established himself as a merchant and rancher. His cattle brand, like those of other De León family members, was among the earliest registered in Goliad and Victoria counties. As a principal citizen in De León's colony, he was one of the "Ten Friends" honored by the name of the settlement's main street, "Calle de los Diez Amigos." Manchola served alternately with José Miguel Aldrete, another son-in-law of De León, as alcalde of La Bahía (Goliad) throughout most of the colonial period. Thus the empresario of Guadalupe Victoria dominated the ayuntamiento of the neighboring municipality, a fact that was especially evident in De León's disputes with Green DeWitt.

As a career officer stationed at Nuestra Señora de Loreto Presidio (La Bahía), Manchola served as comandante in 1826–27 and again in 1831. As such he aided his father-in-law in forcing the inhabitants of DeWitt's Old Station out of De León's territory into Gonzales in 1827. As De León's attorney, Manchola petitioned the Mexican government on April 13, 1829, to augment the boundaries of his father-in-law's colony to accommodate an additional 150 families. Although this was granted, De León failed to gain title to the barrier islands for which Power and Hewetson held the original claim (see POWER AND HEWETSON COLONY, and DEWITT'S COLONY).

In the fall of 1828 the District Electoral Assembly of Texas elected Manchola and José María Balmasceda deputies to the Coahuila and Texas state legislature. Manchola wrote Stephen F. Austin in October asking his suggestions for the welfare of Texas. Manchola helped establish the municipality of Guadalupe Victoria during the 1829 session and declared his support of separate statehood for Texas and Coahuila. Early in February 1829 he protested to Governor Agustín Viesca against the failure of the Mexican government to carry out the order of September 1823 secularizing all missions that had been in operation for at least ten years. He prepared a history of the missions of his district to demonstrate that they had been in operation more than ten years, recalled the grievances of settlers against the mission Indians, and criticized Father José Antonio Díaz de León's efforts to obstruct the secularization process. Manchola then demanded the immediate transfer of the missions and the sale of their lands to settlers. Finally he petitioned to change the "meaningless name" of La Bahía to Goliad, "which is an anagram made from the surname [Hidalgo] of the heroic giant of our revolution" (see HIDALGO Y COSTILLA, MIGUEL). In response, the government issued Decree Number 73 of February 4, 1829, which granted La Bahía the title of Villa de Goliad, thereby elevating the presidio to a town. By March 6 Governor Viesca had ordered the political chief at Bexar to carry out the secularization order of 1823; it was not implemented until February 1830.

Manchola was reelected to the state legislature in 1830 and received a vote of confidence from the ayuntamiento of San Felipe. Manchola supported the Constitution of 1824 and continued to advocate separate statehood for Texas and Coahuila. As the Goliad delegate to the Convention of 1832 he volunteered to accompany William H. Wharton to Mexico City to present the convention's petitions for separation of Coahuila from Texas. Stephen F. Austin convinced them that the proceedings were untimely, however, and the mission was cancelled. Manchola probably died a few weeks later in the cholera epidemic of 1832–33. His widow became one of the large landowners of the region. She was issued two grants of two leagues each on Coleto Creek as a De León colonist and two two-league tracts on the San Antonio River bordering Villa de Goliad in 1833, as well as additional grants in 1834 as a Power and Hewetson colonist on lands that the De Leóns had owned earlier. She apparently died in Texas. The De Leóns fell victim to the reaction against Texans of Mexican descent after the Texas Revolution and were forced to abandon their lands and flee to Mexico.

Vito Alessio Robles, Coahuila y Texas en la época colonial (Mexico City: Editorial Cultura, 1938; 2d ed., Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 1978). Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924–28). Bexar Archives, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–1958; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Roy Grimes, ed., 300 Years in Victoria County (Victoria, Texas: Victoria Advocate, 1968; rpt., Austin: Nortex, 1985). A. B. J. Hammett, The Empresario Don Martín de León (Waco: Texian Press, 1973). Hobart Huson, Captain Philip Dimmitt's Commandancy of Goliad, 1835–1836 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1974). Hobart Huson, Refugio: A Comprehensive History of Refugio County from Aboriginal Times to 1953 (2 vols., Woodsboro, Texas: Rooke Foundation, 1953, 1955). Kathryn Stoner O'Connor, The Presidio La Bahía del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga, 1721 to 1846 (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1966). Ethel Zivley Rather, "DeWitt's Colony," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 8 (October 1904). Paul H. Walters, "Secularization of the La Bahía Missions," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 54 (January 1951).
Time Periods:
  • Mexican Texas

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

Craig H. Roell, “Manchola, Rafael Antonio,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 24, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 1, 1995

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: