Juan José Manuel Vicente Zambrano, lieutenant colonel and subdeacon of San Fernando de Béxar, was born on April 4, 1772, in San Fernando de Béxar to Joseph Macario Zambrano and Juana de Oconitrillo. Among his numerous brothers and sisters was José Darío Zambrano, with whom he has often been confused. In September 1793 he received his minor orders and the title of subdeacon by the bishop of Monterrey. By 1803 he was the subdeacon in San Fernando; that year he requested the governor to grant him property along the irrigation ditch belonging to Mission Concepción to establish a flour mill. In 1807 Zambrano was ordered to leave San Fernando by Com. Gen. Nemesio Salcedo for licentious behavior. The order was suspended, and Zambrano was still there in December 1809, when he granted power of attorney to his brother, José María Zambrano. He later left Béxar but was back from Guadalajara before the end of 1810. During the Casas Revolt, Zambrano retired to his ranch some miles out of San Fernando, where he kept himself informed on events in the villa. On the evening of March 1, 1811, ten men gathered in Zambrano's home and proceeded to town where they captured the garrison by convincing the military to support their cause. Early on March 2 the group elected a twelve-member governing junta, which represented both the military and the general populace. Zambrano was elected president. Each member of the junta took an oath to religion, the king, and the country. At dawn Casas surrendered to 400 troops.
Zambrano's government established funds to build a schoolhouse. In late March he led 500 troops to Laredo to patrol the region. Promoted to lieutenant colonel, he remained involved in the political and military affairs of the province. With the success of Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara’s Republican Army of the North in defeating royalist troops at Nacogdoches, La Bahía, and eventually San Antonio, Zambrano fled south. He joined Gen. Joaquín de Arredondo’s army, which entered Texas in summer 1813 and participated in the battle of Medina. He remained in Arredondo’s service afterwards, carrying out an inspection of conditions in the lower Rio Grande Valley in 1815. In May 1816 Zambrano submitted a petition to the king to grant him the position of Canon of the Cathedral in Mexico City, which he apparently obtained. In 1818 he was appointed captain of the Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras (Alamo Company) and later as the commander at La Bahía, where he established a non-mission school for soldiers and their families under the supervision of José Galán (seeEDUCATION). A major confrontation erupted between Zambrano and the chaplain of La Bahía; both men claimed that they had been publicly insulted and that the other should be removed from the villa. In 1819 Zambrano placed an assistant inspector in solitary confinement. He was recalled to San Fernando and arrested. After an investigation he was to be sent to Monclova, but he was still in San Fernando under arrest in June 1820, when he was accused of violating his arrest. In 1820 he was elected as the Texas representative to a Monterrey convention where delegates for the Spanish Cortes were to be chosen; perhaps the election was a means of getting him out of San Fernando. He was back in San Fernando by June 1823, and in November 1823 he left his house and land to María Guadalupe de la Garza and her two sons, whom he identified as his own. He may have also adopted a Comanche Indian girl who died in 1815. In spring 1824 Zambrano was elected the alternate representative for Texas in the Constituent Congress of Coahuila y Texas, but died on November 7, 1824, in Mier, Tamaulipas.
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Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Frederick Charles Chabot, ed., Texas in 1811: The Las Casas and Sambrano Revolutions (San Antonio: Yanaguana Society, 1941). Bradley Folsom, Arredondo: Last Spanish Ruler of Texas and Northeastern New Spain (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2017). Julia Kathryn Garrett, Green Flag Over Texas: A Story of the Last Years of Spain in Texas (Austin: Pemberton Press, 1939). Nacogdoches Archives, Steen Library, Stephen F. Austin State University; Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin; Texas State Archives, Austin. William H. Oberste, History of Refugio Mission (Refugio, Texas: Refugio Timely Remarks, 1942). Virginia H. Taylor, trans. and ed., The Letters of Antonio Martínez, Last Spanish Governor of Texas, 1817–1822 (Austin: Texas State Library, 1957).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Jesús "Frank" de la Teja,
“Zambrano, Juan José Manuel Vicente,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 23, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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