Loyalty or freedom: The difficult choices Tejanos had to make

Lt. Col. Francisco Ruiz and Don Jose Antonio Navarro were put on an execution list for treason to Mexico

In the first two installments of KSAT’s latest Tejano Moments series, we introduced you to Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Ruiz, the contributions he made to the City of San Antonio, and how he put his life on the line for Texas’ Independence.

Now, we are focusing on his path and the difficult decisions that came along with it.

In 1828, about seven years after returning from Louisiana, Lt. Col. Ruiz took on a new military role.

He commanded the “San Carlos de Parras” light Calvary in San Antonio, fighting off natives and outlaws.

Later, he established a new military post on the Upper Brazos River.

“In a military career for him at that time period, it was one of the highest, certainly as a lieutenant colonel,” said Rudi Rodriguez, a local historian a founder of Texastejano.com.

He says the attacks were overwhelming and a lack of reinforcements forced Ruiz and his troops to come back to Bexar County.

Ruiz commanded until 1835 when his age and health caught up to him. However, he still led in other ways.

“He’s able to provide his presence and representing the men and women from the Bexar County area, at the revolutionary congress, the Washington on the Brazos,” Rodriguez said.

Ruiz and other Tejano leaders later wrote a bill of rights demanding equitable representation, taxation, and military protection, but their demands would go unanswered by Mexican president Santa Anna.

This forced Tejanos to make the difficult decision of fighting or remaining loyal to Mexico -- so they fought.

While Ruiz was unable to help fight physically, he did his part by signing the Texas Declaration of Independence at the Convention of 1836.

Rodriguez said, “He and his nephew, Don Jose Antonio Navarro, are chosen to go and represent the people from South Texas.”

As a result, they are both added to an execution list for treason to Mexico.

Ultimately, Santa Anna’s army was defeated on April 21,1836, at the Battle of San Jacinto.

Lt. Col. Ruiz passed away a few years later in 1840.

He is buried at San Fernando Cemetery #1 and his gravesite bears a 1936 Texas centennial tombstone awarded by the state of Texas.

More on KSAT:

Tejano Moments: How Col. Francisco Ruiz put everything on the line for Texas’ independence


About the Author:

Roslyn Jimenez is a news producer for GMSA at KSAT12. Roslyn joined the KSAT12 team in January 2020 after being the First Edition producer for KIII-TV in Corpus Christi.