José Francisco Ruiz

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José Francisco Ruiz
José Francisco Ruiz.gif
Personal details
Born January 28, 1783
San Antonio, Texas
Died January 19, 1840
San Antonio
Nationality Spanish (1783-1821), Mexican (1821-1836) and Tejano (1836-1840)
Profession schoolmaster and senator to the First Congress of the Republic of Texas

José Francisco "Francis" Ruiz (ca. January 28, 1783 - January 19, 1840) was a soldier, educator, politician, Texas Senator and revolutionary.

Early life and family[edit]

Ruiz was born in San Antonio de Bexar in the interior province of Spanish Texas to Juan Manuel Ruiz and María Manuela de la Peña. Appointed the first schoolmaster of San Antonio in 1803, he designated a house acquired by his father on Military Plaza as the first school. This house was carefully reconstructed in 1943 and moved to the grounds of the Witte Museum where it is still used for educational purposes. In 1805 Ruiz became a city councilman, or regidor, in San Antonio and served various official capacities including city attorney, or procurador.


Ruiz began a long military career in 1811, joining the Bexar Provincial Militia with the rank of lieutenant. He joined the Republican Army at Bexar and took part in failed revolution from Spain in 1813, fighting at the battle of Medina on August 18. Forced into exile from Texas until 1822, Ruiz returned after Mexico won its independence from Spain. He was ordered by the Mexican government to make attempts at peace with the hostile Native American tribes of the North, the Comanches and the Lipans. Appointed to the Mounted Militia upon his return, he successfully led a peace treaty delegation of Lipans to Mexico City later in 1822. The next year, Ruiz received a promotion to army captain, unassigned, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, receiving confirmation of his commission in 1825. He was sent to Nacogdoches in December 1826 to help put down the Fredonian Rebellion, receiving command of that detachment in April of the next year.[1]

Ruiz was a member of the Mexican Boundary Commission assigned to explore areas of Texas. This commission left Mexico City on November 10, 1827, under the command of Manuel de Mier y Terán. Ruiz had returned to Bexar in 1828, where he commanded the famed Alamo de Parras company. In the fall of 1828, Ruiz led the Mier y Teran group of 30 Mexican soldiers and commission members, including naturalist Jean-Louis Berlandier, on a bear and buffalo hunt on open lands northwest of San Antonio with the cooperation of local Comanche leaders Reyuna and El Ronca. From November 19 to December 18, Ruiz and a military party explored the silver mines on the San Saba River. During this time, he wrote his "Report on the Indian Tribes of Texas in 1828", preserved in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. An insight into the trust Ruiz garnered with the Indian tribes of Texas can be found in the Shawnee tribe's reference to him as "a good man no lie and a friend of the Indians". Ruiz retired from the military at the end of 1832.[2]

Texas politician[edit]

Ruiz allied himself with the Texas Revolution in 1835 and traveled to Washington-on-the-Brazos in late February 1836 as a delegate to the Convention of 1836. There on March 2, 1836, Ruiz signed along with his nephew José Antonio Navarro the Texas Declaration of Independence - the only native Texans among the fifty-nine men to sign this historic document. During the revolution he was an outspoken supporter of independence, and eloquently wrote to his family "Under no circumstance take sides against the Texans for only God will return the territory of Texas to the Mexican government."[3]

Later life and family[edit]

Ruiz's son Francisco Antonio Ruiz, San Antonio mayor, or alcalde, at the time, was an important eyewitness to the Battle of the Alamo, having been placed under house arrest at his San Antonio home by Antonio López de Santa Anna and later forced by the Mexican dictator to identify the bodies of the deceased after the battle.

Ruiz represented the Bexar district as its senator to the First Congress of Republic of Texas. He died and was buried in his beloved San Antonio in 1840.


  1. ^ Bernice Strong, "RUIZ, JOSE FRANCISCO," Handbook of Texas Online [1], accessed October 13, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
  2. ^ Bernice Strong, "RUIZ, JOSE FRANCISCO," Handbook of Texas Online [2], accessed October 13, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
  3. ^ Bernice Strong, "RUIZ, JOSE FRANCISCO," Handbook of Texas Online [3], accessed October 13, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Republic of Texas Senate
Succeeded by
Juan Seguín