Jose Atanacio Salinas was born on May 2, 1853 in Cerralvo, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. He was one of seven children born to Jose Salvador Salinas and Maria Margarita Barrera. He had one brother, Jose Eduardo Salinas (youngest child) and five sisters, Margarita, Augustina (aka Faustina), Francisca, Narcisa, and Maria Guadalupe. Narcisa and Maria Guadalupe died as infants within a year of their birth. Jose Salvador died in 1855 at 35 years old leaving a 27 year old widow, Margarita with five children ages from one month old to eight years old. We can assume that paternal and maternal grandparents must have had a big part in helping raise the family. The Salinas family owned property in Monterrey and Cerralvo. Documents of different land deeds shows the family appeared to be well off financially. The children went to school and received a good education. Jose Atanacio was a teacher so his education was beyond secondary school. One can conclude that Jose Atanacio and Eduardo assumed adult roles in the family at a very early age. Jose Atanacio was the first of the family to come to Starr County probably when he was approxicmately 18 or 19 years old seeking. He probably came with a recommendation on hand from family and landed a job at Las Escobas Ranch.
Jose Atanacio traveled frequently back and forth freely from Cerralvo to Texas visiting family on both sides of the border. All the sisters lived in Cerralvo, Mexico with their mother. His brother, Eduardo remained in Cerralvo when Jose moved to Texas to care for his mother until she died in 1897. Jose Eduardo remained a bachelor until his marriage at age 56. After his marriage Eduardo moved to Mercedes, Texas and lived there until his death.
Jose A. Salinas was intelligent and well educated; known as "El Maestro" because he was inspired to teach others to read and write. Early in his career as a school teacher, Jose was recruited at Las Escobas Ranch in Starr County, Texas by Jose Felipe Guerra Hiinojosa to teach children of family and ranch laborers how to read and write in Spanish. He was paid $5.00 a month for teaching. He was boarded on the ranch as part of the arrangement with Jose Felipe Guerra which was the custom in those days. Las Escobas Ranch was likely the first bilingual school in Texas. Two teachers were hired, Jose A. Salinas taught Spanish and Ezra B. Houston taught English. Jose Felipe Guerra, owner of Las Escobas Ranch, valued education not only for his own family, but the children of the families living and working on the ranch.
While teaching at the ranch, Jose fell in love with Jose Felipe's daughter, Maria Emilia Guerra. Jose married Maria Emilia February 12, 1876 in Roma, Texas at Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church. Jose was 23 years old and Maria Emilia was 21 years old. Maria Emilia was born August 8, 1856 in Roma, Texas. They had nine children, five boys and four girls. One of the children, Salvador Salinas (inherited ranch house) is pictured here with his wife, Anastacia Guerra Salinas in front of their residence. The children were Salvador, Francisco, Zaragosa, José R., Eduardo, Manuela, Margarita, Ramona and Paula. Jose A. and Maria Emilia raised their nine children at the ranch main house headquarters. Jose died April 16, 1928 at Las Escobas Ranch at age 75 from influenza and Maria Emilia died June 30, 1923 in Rio Grande City, Starr County, Texas at 67 years of age. Jose was a widower for five years prior to his death. Both are buried at El Cemeterio de los Padres in Rio Grande City, Texas. Photo above shows Jose A. Salinas and Maria Emilia tombstones.
Jose A. Salinas estate was divided into nine tracts in 1933, five years after he died. The nine heirs (9 children-five boys and four girls)received their portion. Las Escobas Ranch property was subdivided into the following: Tract # 1 to Zaragosa Salinas 1590.3 acres, Tract #2 Eduardo Salinas 1552.3 acres, Tract #3 Jose R. Salinas 1659.57 acres, Tract #4 Salvador Salinas 1538.67 acres, Tract #5 Francisco Salinas 1653.13 acres, Tract #6 Paula Salinas Reynaga 1660.95 acres, Tract #7 Margarita Salinas Flores 1660.95 acres, Tract #8 Ramona Salinas Mendoza 1477.65 acres, Tract #9 Manuela Salinas de Guerra 1590.95 acres. The entire Las Escobas Ranch was subdivided into nine properties now mangaged separatedly by the children of Jose A. Salinas and Maria Emilia Guerra.