George O. Coalson

VILLANUEVA, ANDREA CASTAÑÓN (1785–1899). Andrea Castañón Villanueva (Madam Candelaria), who claimed to be a survivor of the battle of the Alamo, was the daughter of Antonio Castañón and Francisca Ramírez. She was born, according to her own account, in Laredo in November 1785. Other sources say she was born at Presidio del Río Grande in what is now Mexico. Three years after her birth her parents probably took her to Laredo, where she remained until she was about twenty-five. She then went to San Antonio, where she married Candelario Villanueva, who she said was her second husband. She became known as Madam or Señora Candelaria. She was the mother of four children and also raised twenty-two orphans. She often nursed the sick, aided the poor, and gave money to strangers who became stranded in San Antonio. Madam Candelaria claimed to have been in the Alamo during the battle in 1836 and to have nursed the ailing James Bowie. Historians are in disagreement over her claim, but most believe she was there. Since the evidence pertaining to the survivors is sparse and fragmentary, it is unlikely that the dispute will ever be settled. Many of her contemporaries believed her, and she had regular visitors who wanted to hear her account. Enrique Esparza, who was in the Alamo at the time of the assault, said in 1907 that Madam Candelaria may have been one of the women in the Alamo and that he would not dispute her claim that she was present. In spite of the controversy, the Texas legislature, on February 12, 1891, awarded her a pension of twelve dollars a month for being an Alamo survivor and for her work with smallpox victims in San Antonio. Madam Candelaria died on February 10, 1899, in San Antonio at the age of 113 and was buried in San Fernando Cemetery.

Dallas Morning News, October 20, 1985. San Antonio Daily Express, February 11, 1899. Amelia W. Williams, A Critical Study of the Siege of the Alamo and of the Personnel of Its Defenders (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1931; rpt., Southwestern Historical Quarterly 36–37 [April 1933-April 1934]).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, George O. Coalson, "VILLANUEVA, ANDREA CASTANON," accessed January 21, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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