San Antonio native, military veteran, merchant, and mayor pro tem José Antonio Menchaca (1800–1879) was one of only a few Tejano leaders to leave behind an extensive manuscript of recollections. Portions of the document were published in 1907, followed by a “corrected” edition in 1937, but the complete work could not be published without painstaking reconstruction. At last available in its entirety, Menchaca’s book of reminiscences captures the social life, people, and events that shaped the history of Texas’s tumultuous transformation during his lifetime. Highlighting not only Menchaca’s acclaimed military service but also his vigorous defense of Tejanos’ rights, dignity, and heritage, Recollections of a Tejano Life charts a remarkable legacy while incorporating scholarly commentary to separate fact from fiction.
Revealing how Tejanos perceived themselves and the revolutionary events that defined them, this wonderfully edited volume presents Menchaca’s remembrances of such diverse figures as Antonio López de Santa Anna, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, General Adrián Woll, Comanche chief “Casamiro,” and Texas Ranger Jack Hays. Menchaca and his fellow Tejanos were actively engaged in local struggles as Mexico won her independence from Spain; later many joined the fight to establish the Republic of Texas, only to see it annexed to the United States nine years after the Battle of San Jacinto. This first-person account corrects important misconceptions and brings previously unspoken truths vividly to life.