Almost the Capital
Fayette County, Central Texas S
The Manton Family Cemetery
The centerpiece of the cemetery -
the Manton Obelisk
Photo by John Troesser
The site of
what would've been Colorado City is now private property, so no
directions are furnished. The Manton Family cemetery, an iron fence
and a few historical markers are now the only things in the area.
was on the route known as La Bahia Road or Trail. Today La Bahia
Road is officially marked as FM
390 from Burton
to (near) Washington-on-the-Brazos.
Winter view of the Manton cemetery with the Colorado River behind
the distant tree line.
of the Manton obelisk'
Comment: "Attached to the back of the Manton obelisk is a sarcophagus
in which the coffin would have been placed. It appears the coffin
may have been removed for reburial else where. The damage done to
it could be due to weather conditions or vandalism." - Holly
Hilpert, Nov. 21, 2003
Story of Colorado City
In the late
1830s, while LaGrange was little more than a group of cabins, John
W. S. Dancy and others were platting Colorado City.
Colorado City was a planned grid of 156 blocks on the West bank
of the Colorado River just north of present day La
Grange. The town was to be on the low water crossing on the
Colorado known as the La Bahia crossing - one of the few spots on
the river that had equally sloping banks.
The site was a major crossing on the original La Bahia trail.
Even before surveyors got started, the Congress of the Republic
of Texas voted unanimously to make it the capital. Sam Houston,
as president, however, vetoed the proposal since he wanted his namesake
city to be the capital. Colorado City still might have become the
capitol after Houston's term expired, except that the next president
of the Republic - Mirabeau B. Lamar - preferred Austin.
Frequent flooding also dampened enthusiasm for the location and
soon Colorado City was more or less forgotten - existing only on
paper. The 5,000 acres that might've been the capital eventually
became farms. The unpredictable nature of the Colorado still prevents
it from being developed - in this day and age - a good thing.
For some reason,
the handsomely carved tombstone for 19 year-old Nancy Knowles is the
only grave marker outside of the iron enclosure.
little West of the Colorado River is the Manton family cemetery -
a tidy well-tended cemetery on high ground that also contains graves
of other early settlers.
stone from the Rabb Family plot
J. Rabb (1801-1846)
Thomas J. Rabb, soldier and member of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three
Hundred, was born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, about 1801. The
family arrived in December of 1821. Initially, the entire family settled
on the west side of the Colorado River a short distance above the
site of present La Grange.
In early 1824 the Rabb family moved to the area around Egypt
in Wharton County to escape Indian harassment. Rabb was appointed
Captain of Company F, First Regiment of the revolutionary army. During
the Runaway Scrape (with General Houston's permission), Rabb left
to rescue his family, thus missing the battle of San Jacinto. After
the war he settled on Rabb's Prairie - Fayette County land that had
been granted to his father. Rabb also served as Captain of a Ranger
company under the command of Col. John Moore. He died in Fayette County,
Texas on October 29, 1846.
His original tombstone (shown above) is inscribed with his title as
Judge. A more recent marker has devices showing him as both a Citizen
of the Republic of Texas and one of "Austin's Original 300."
Winfield Scott Dancy (1810 -1866) was named after his cousin General
Winfield Scott. Growing up in Decatur, Alabama and receiving a license
to practice law in Tennessee, he moved to Texas after the death of
his wife - arriving on December 28, 1836.
Dancy became a citizen of Texas on January 13, 1837, purchasing 640
acres in Fayette County the following year. He introduced long-staple
cotton to Texas and in 1841 served as the Fayette County representative
to the Sixth Congress of the Republic of Texas. He unsuccessfully
ran for governor in 1853.
Dancy proposed selling public lands to finance railroad expansion
and was called the "Father of Texas Railroads" for his enthusiastic
promotion of railroads. He practiced law in La Grange and was a founding
trustee of Rutersville College. He edited the Texas Monument, from
July 1850 to June 1851. Dancy died in La Grange on February 13, 1866,
and was buried in La
Grange Cemetery. He is mentioned here for his role in developing
from The Diary of John Winfred Scott Dancy, Barker Texas
History Center, University of Texas at Austin:
In early January of 1838 Darcy wrote: "We crossed the Colorado to
day and reached Colorado City - our destination. At Colonel Manton's
the weather was quite pleasant. "
"This was the day appointed by congress for the opening of the Land
Office. The boat was sunk at the ferry last night, there had been
a considerable rise in the river and Colonel Manton's canoe had by
accident gone down the river, so that people from this side of the
river were unable to go to La Grange."
3 February: "The canoe arrived last night and today Mathews (Thomas
Mathews of the Colorado City Land Company) crossed the river and for
the first time saw the site of Colorado City. He was highly pleased
and acknowledged that it equaled his most sanguine expectations."
19th February: "This was a beautiful day and we began to lay off Colorado
In March of 1838 Darcy wrote: The Commissioners came over to Colorado
City and examined the surrounding country. They were well pleased
with the country about the La Bahia Crossing and had reserved all
the vacant land within nine miles of it for the use of the government
if Congress should locate the seat of government in this vicinity."
Darcy's diary goes on to mention the decision not to establish the
capital in Colorado City - and although it may have been a severe
personal disappointment - it was treated in a most matter-of-fact
manner in his diary.
tombstone for Edward Jencks Manton
T. Manton (1820-1893)
Born at Johnston, Rhode Island in 1820, Edward T. Manton came to Texas
in 1833 at the age of 13. He received a 640-acre bounty grant of land
after joining Captain Rabb's company of Fayette County volunteers
in 1842. General Rafael Vásquez's invading troops were forced back
into Mexico. In September of that same year, when Gen. Adrián Woll
invaded San Antonio, Manton joined Capt. Nicholas Dawson's Fayette
County volunteers to pursue the Mexican forces. Manton was one of
only fifteen prisoners to survive the Dawson massacre at Salado Creek
- just east of San Antonio. It was Manton's written account that supplies
the details of that fight. Manton was released in 1844 and he returned
to his farm in Fayette County where he lived until his death on August
City Texas Forum
wishing to share history or vintage photos of Colorado City, please
Texas Escapes would like to express thanks to Fayette County historian
Gary McKee for his contribution of time and his services as guide.
© John Troesser
Book Your Hotel Here & Save