Ortiz, Luis R. (1858–1934)

By: Alyssa Canales

Type: Biography

Published: October 28, 2021

Updated: October 28, 2021

Luis R. Ortiz, rancher, county official, and sheriff, was born in Laredo, Texas, on August 25, 1858, to Juan Pablo Ortiz and Marie Antonia (Farias) Ortiz. His siblings included Juan Jr., Santos, José A., Emelia, and Bruna. His father was a prominent landowner, stockman, and merchant. Coming of age on the border, Luis spent much of his time on the sheep ranch with his father. He was educated at St. Mary’s College, San Antonio; a Jesuit college in Mobile, Alabama; Fordham College in New York City; and he finished at Packard’s Business College, New York. A Luis R. Ortiz of Laredo was also listed on the student register of Georgetown College in Washington, D.C., in 1876. He returned to Laredo in 1876 to manage his father’s store for several years.

By 1884 Ortiz was listed as both district and county clerk of Webb County. About 1886 he married Anita Margreta Ugarte. The couple had a son, José Austin, in 1906 and an adopted daughter, Paola (born in 1886), who later died in 1909. Ortiz helped organize the Independent Club in Laredo. In 1896 Ortiz was elected to the office of sheriff and was reelected five consecutive times. On his last election in 1906, he announced his decision to retire to return to ranching. At the time, he was thought to be one of the wealthiest men in Laredo as the owner of more than 80,000 acres of land. The 1910 census listed Ortiz as a stockraiser and ranch owner, and the household included his wife, son, and two servants. During World War I Ortiz reportedly purchased $30,000 in war bonds to support the war effort. He was still listed as a stockman on the 1920 census, but the 1930 census listed Ortiz as the vice president of a bank.

Luis R. Ortiz died of acute enteritis on January 27, 1934, in Laredo. He was seventy-five. Ortiz, a Catholic, was buried in Calvary Catholic Cemetery. His obituary pronounced him the “last of the ‘Big Three’ of politics in the early years in [Webb] county, the others being Raymond Martin and A. M. Bruni.”

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 28, 1934. Stanley C. Green, Border Biographies (Laredo: Border Studies Center, 1993). “Luis R Ortiz,” Find A Grave Memorial (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/167400259/luis-r-ortiz), accessed October 25, 2021.

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Sheriffs
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Politics and Government
  • Civic and Community Leaders
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Landowners and Land Developers
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen
Time Periods:
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • South Texas
  • South and Border
  • Laredo

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

Alyssa Canales, “Ortiz, Luis R.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/ortiz-luis-r.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 28, 2021
October 28, 2021

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