José Salinas was born on November 17, 1797, the youngest of five children of Francisco Manuel Salinas and Ygnacia Delgado Flores de Abrego. During his early years the family lived on the Rancho de San Bartolomé, one of eleven family ranches, and in San Antonio, where Francisco Salinas served in city government until 1818. After Mexican independence, Salinas served as alcalde of San Antonio, in 1822, 1827, 1830, and 1836. He was the last San Antonio alcalde before Texas independence. He supported the cause of Texas independence with his brother, Pablo, who served under Col. Juan N. Seguín. As a wealthy rancher, Salinas offered his help and support to Stephen F. Austin, James W. Fannin, and William Barrett Travis. Texas forces under Travis and Fannin camped on his ranch. It appears that Salinas was married and had at least one son before his death in June or July 1851. His sister, Antonia Salinas de Barrera, and her husband were made administrators of the estate, which remained in probate until 1868.