By Nicole Barrios
A local community explores its roots and origins in a recently published book of its history.
The Manchaca Onion Creek Historical Association (MOCHA) published “Manchaca” in the Images of America historical book series by Arcadia Publishing. The book features historical maps, land grants and photos accompanied by stories telling the history of the Manchaca community that dates back to the early 1830s.
The association sought to write the book now because of the growth in the Manchaca area, said Marilyn McLeod, president of MOCHA.
“We’re losing things just weekly almost that are historic to the families who’ve lived there and to the community,” McLeod said. “So as change takes place, you forget what was there before and we wanted to document it.”
The association learned a great deal about Manchaca’s history in the process of writing and researching the book, McLeod said.
They learned the streets in Manchaca are named after the original families that settled the area, she said.
“You know it’s just kind of fun to think, ‘Oh my gosh, this is named after so and so,’” McLeod said. “It’s very fun to learn the background of where you are.”
McLeod said some of her favorite parts of the book feature the old maps and land grants.The original maps and land grants show that people came to Manchaca as early as the 1830s when Native Americans still lived on the land, she said.
The original land grant for Manchaca is written in Spanish with the date of March 12, 1835, and the land was granted to settler Walker Wilson, according to the book.
“So you’ve got Indians here, and these people are out here surveying land and deciding to settle on it. I can’t even imagine,” McLeod said.
MOCHA worked with the Texas General Land Office to acquire historic maps and land grants featured in the book, McLeod said.
James Harkins, Texas General Land Office history and archives director and outreach manager, said the land office has a “small handful” of maps and documents for Manchaca that they were able to find, Harkins said.
“As soon as we got started we found all sorts of great maps and land grant documents for the Manchaca/Manchac area, depending on what side of the tracks you’re from,” Harkins said. “So it was a good opportunity to see what we have for the area just south of Austin.”
All of the association’s members were a part of the process of creating the book, but there were a few members who did specific jobs to gather the information needed, McLeod said.
Ann and Barry Trask, MOCHA interim secretary and treasurer, collected all of the book’s photos and photo information, McLeod said.
Ann Trask said they gathered 200 photographs from Manchaca residents and families to feature in the book.
Two specific Manchaca residents, Joanne Deane and Lil Moreland, provided the majority of the photos, Trask said.
It took 18 months for MOCHA to compile photos from 45 residents, information, historic documents and to write the book, McLeod said.
“I think we hope (the book) accomplishes a nice, permanent documentary of the little community,” McLeod said. “I think it’s easily overlooked.”
McLeod said her favorite anecdote from the book is that of how Mississippi resident Adolphus Weir was passing through the country around Manchaca in a stagecoach and decided to purchase the property that included Manchaca Springs. Weir was impressed with the beauty and climate of the land, according to the book.
Another interesting piece of history is Old San Antonio Road that runs through Manchaca, McLeod said. That road is an old Spanish trail once used by stagecoaches traveling through Texas, she said.
“It’s not going to be very long until (Manchaca) is swallowed up by Austin, so I would hope to maintain the history of the area and what it was,” Trask said.