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Almost the Capital of Texas

Fayette County, Central Texas South

Colorado City and
The Manton Family Cemetery

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Manton Cemetery obelisk

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.

Colorado City 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.

Manton Cemetery, Colorado City, Texas
A Winter view of the Manton cemetery with the Colorado River behind the distant tree line.
TE photo
Manton obelisk

Another view of the Manton obelisk'
TE photo

Readers' 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

The Brief Story of Colorado City

In the late 1830s, while La Grange 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 capital 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.

Manton Family Cemetery

A 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.
A stone from the Rabb Family plot
TE photo
Thomas 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."

John 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 Colorado City.
Excerpts 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. "

February :
"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."

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 City."

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.

Manton tombstone
The tombstone for Edward Jencks Manton
TE photo
Edward 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 20, 1893.

tree motif carved tombstone

For some reason, the handsomely carved tombstone for 19 year-old Nancy Knowles is the only grave marker outside of the iron enclosure.
TE photo

Editor's Note:
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

More Texas Cemeteries

Take a road trip
Colorado City, Texas Nearby Towns:
La Grange the county seat
See Fayette County

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