SAN ANTONIO – KSAT’s Tejano moments series continues on Friday with a familiar name in Texas history -- Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Antonio Ruiz.
In the first part of a three part series, we look into how Ruiz devoted most of his life to the growth and development of the city he was born in: San Antonio.
“He’s part of many leading families here in San Antonio and in Texas since 1690,” Rudi Rodriguez, a local historian and founder of Texastejano.com said.
Francisco was the fifth of six children, born to Juan Ruiz and Manuela de la Pena.
His siblings were Maria Josefa born in 1770, Maria Antonia born 1771, Jose Antonio born 1775, Maria Rosalia 1777, Francisco Antonio born 1780 and Jose Francisco born March 29, 1783.
Ruiz and his brother were not only born in the Alamo City but they were also baptized at the San Fernando Cathedral.
As for the home he grew up in, it was built in the mid 1700′s, around the same time as the construction of the Spanish Governor’s Palace downtown.
At that time, San Antonio revolved around two main plazas the Plaza de Las Armas and Plaza de Las Islas.
Rodriguez said Ruiz’s life was full of adventure both in the city and on frontier ranches.
“He was on his father’s ranch learning about farming and ranching and how to handle animals and how to ride and know about weaponry and about survival on the frontier,” he said.
The well rounded expertise prepared him to later serve in the local militia and famed Companias Volantes (Light Calvary).
When it came to his education, Rodriguez says Ruiz started here in San Antonio but was later sent overseas to Spain to get a formal education.
It’s believed that while in Europe, he was exposed to the “Age of Enlightenment” sweeping through the area at that time as well as an embracement of democracy.
“He, in fact, ironically ends up being a school teacher to begin with when he returns from Spain,” Rodriguez said.
Over the span of several years beginning in 1803, Ruiz would be appointed the first head school master of the city, and be elected “Regidor” (city councilman), appointed assistant city attorney and, eventually, city attorney.
“Francisco Ruiz was an educated man for his period of time,” Rodriguez said.