Castañeda, María Francisca (1806–1888)

By: Jesús "Frank" de la Teja

Type: Biography

Published: April 28, 2022

Updated: May 9, 2022

Francisca Castañeda was the wife of Ramón Músquiz, businessman and political chief of the Department of Texas between 1828 and 1834, and therefore served in the role as First Lady of Texas during these years (see MEXICAN TEXAS). Francisca was born in Punta de Lampazos, Nuevo León, on October 9, 1806. She was the natural daughter of Juan Castañeda, a military officer in the local presidio company, and Ignacia Gimenes (also called Cerricero), a servant in the Castañeda household. On her baptismal record, she was named María Francisca Gimenez, using her mother’s surname because her parents were not married. Sometime after his posting to Texas in 1816, Juan brought Francisca and her siblings, and possibly their mother, to live in San Antonio, where the children but not the mother appear in the town census of 1820 (see SPANISH TEXAS). At the time of Francisca’s marriage to Músquiz in 1823, she had been adopted by Juan’s wife, Josefa Fernández, and Juan recognized Francisca and other children by Ignacia in his deathbed will in 1826. Francisca had at least twelve children by Ramón between 1825 and 1847. At least six of their children were born in San Antonio between 1825 and 1836. By 1830 their household included not only their living children, but also Francisca’s mother Ignacia and younger sister Dolores. Based on typical practices of the period, within the better-off Músquiz extended family, Francisca would have been responsible for running the household, including supervising the work of servants as well as disciplining and overseeing the education of the younger children. After her husband’s appointment as political chief of Texas in 1828, Francisca would have had added responsibilities for hosting visiting officials in their home, which was located at the northeast corner of the Main Plaza and had originally been occupied by Martín Lorenzo de Armas and María Robaina de Béthencourt. Activities that demonstrated Francisca’s status in the community would have included helping to sponsor holiday festivities and assisting in properly decorating the church for religious holidays and, more importantly, serving as godmother in the baptism of children, two of them jointly with her husband, in the San Antonio community. In their home, Francisca and Ramón lodged Almeron and Susanna Dickinson in late 1835 and early 1836. It was also there that a number of the women and children survivors of the battle of the Alamo were taken (see ALAMO NONCOMBATANTS). Following the collapse of Mexican control in Texas after the battle of San Jacinto, Ramón and Francisca relocated the family to Monclova, Coahuila, where she had the last six of her children between 1838 and 1847. She died there on January 17, 1888.

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Archivo General de la Nación de México, Mexico, City. Teresa Palomo Acosta and Ruthe Winegarten, Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003). Bexar Archives, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. “Smith, Erastus (Deaf),” Veteran Biographies, Herzstein Library, San Jacinto Museum of History. Mark Wasserman, Everyday Life and Politics in Nineteenth Century Mexico: Men, Women, and War(Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000).

  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Tejanos
  • Politics and Government
  • First Lady/First Gentleman of Texas
  • Religion
  • Catholic
  • Women
Time Periods:
  • Mexican Texas
  • Texas Revolution
  • Central Texas
  • San Antonio

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

Jesús "Frank" de la Teja, “Castañeda, María Francisca,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022,

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April 28, 2022
May 9, 2022

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