Jacob Linn was a gunsmith, business owner, Bexar County commissioner, landowner, and rancher. He was born on November 30, 1825, in Egsweiler, Bavaria, to Daniel and Elizabeth (Gohnok) Linn. About 1833 he emigrated with his parents and sister from their homeland in Bavaria to Texas. During the ocean voyage, his mother became ill, died, and was buried at sea. After arriving at Indianola, Texas, the remaining family members traveled to Port Lavaca where Jacob’s father died. The two young siblings accompanied a group of travelers overland to San Antonio. Shortly after arriving in San Antonio, Jacob’s sister also passed away leaving Jacob the sole family survivor.
Young Jacob was alone in San Antonio but soon was adopted and cared for by the San Fernando Church and chaplain Father Francisco Maynes. Maynes served in the San Fernando parish and augmented his earnings through ranching his own parcels of productive land at Mission San Juan Capistrano. Father Maynes insured that Jacob received an education and lessons in both English and Spanish. Maynes died in the second year of a cholera epidemic that struck the area in 1834, and the majority of his estate was designated for Jacob Linn.
Linn apprenticed in the gun making business and by 1850 had become a gunsmith and opened a shop on Military Plaza in San Antonio. He sold pistols, shotguns, carbines, and rifles. Linn was noted for his gunsmithing abilities. In his book With the Makers of San Antonio, author Frederick Chabot described Linn as “gifted with the genius of an artist” whose firearms “created by him, were the most finished and perfect specimens of the gun makers art.” The business operated during the 1850s and into the 1860s. The shop proved successful, and the name Jacob Linn was stamped on rifles, and gold and silver inlays were often added.
Jacob Linn married María Josefa Pérez in a San Fernando Church ceremony on February 12, 1855. He had known the Pérez family for years prior, as María Josefa and her two sisters were schoolmates. She was part of a prominent family in the area. Her grandfather, Juan Ignacio Pérez, a grandson of one of the original Canary Islanders, was an early Spanish land grant holder and had served as interim governor of Texas from July 1816 to March 1817. After Jacob and María Josefa were married, they lived in the Comandancia (later known as the Spanish Governor’s Palace), which her grandfather had purchased decades earlier. María Josefa and her sisters had inherited the building, and, according to the estate of their father, family members inherited specific rooms inside the Comandancia; María Josefa received the parlor. The close proximity to Jacob’s gun store on Military Plaza to the Comandancia made the location ideal. Jacob and María Josefa Linn had three children—daughters María Isabel del la Trinidad and Casamira de la Concepción, and son Jacob who passed away in early childhood.
Beginning in the 1850s, along with their San Antonio business, Jacob and María Josefa Linn operated a thriving cattle and horse ranch on their property located near the Medina River and Leon Creek in southwestern Bexar County. Jacob oversaw large herds of cattle and horses on ranchland passed down in the Pérez family to María Josefa and her two sisters. Since the ranch lacked fences, all cattle and horses were marked with the “JLC” brand which Linn had registered in 1851. As the ranch thrived, the family expanded operations to farming cotton, corn, cane, and various vegetables on their fertile land. The Linn family eventually moved out to the ranch in the 1860s. In the mid-1860s work began on a thirteen-room wood-framed house, which was completed in 1868. The Linns, who were devout Catholics, also constructed a chapel. Later a brick kiln and blacksmith shop were added on the ranch. Along with his ranching and business endeavors, Jacob Linn also served as a Bexar County commissioner in the 1860s. Later in life he took up wood carving, and his work included toy furniture, tables, and other items.
Jacob Linn died at his home on December 8, 1878, and was buried in their ranch cemetery. Ranching operations were carried on by his daughter Concepción and her husband Francis Thomas Walsh and their heirs into the late twentieth century. As of the 2010s the ranch was titled the Pérez Rancho site and considered one of the earliest Spanish colonial-area ranchos located on the Medina River. The ranch operated for nearly 200 years and earned the designation as one of the longest continuously-managed ranches in Texas by the same family. The site received a listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. It is now situated within the Medina River Natural Area Park.