José Manuel María de la Trinidad Salinas, a stockman and public figure in the San Antonio area, was born on May 6, 1756, to José Salinas and Margarita Menchaca. On his father’s side he descended from Diego Ramón, founder of the presidio-mission complex of San Juan Bautista del Río Grande, and José de Urrutia, Texas explorer and commander of Presidio de San Antonio de Béxar. On his mother’s side he was the nephew of Luis Antonio Menchaca, who also served as commander at Béxar. Despite his military pedigree (his father retired as company sergeant of San Antonio’s presidio company), Manuel pursued ranching as a livelihood and rose from common field hand (campista) to ranch owner by the turn of the nineteenth century. Sometime before 1786 he married María Ignacia Flores, and they had a total of seven children, including Texas Revolution figure José María de Jesús Salinas.
Salinas first appeared in the public record in 1788, when San Antonio’s town council appointed him an assistant for the annual feast of the town’s patron saints. The first of his three terms on the cabildo came in 1791, when he served as fourth regidor. His most important public role began in 1809 when Governor Manuel Salcedo appointed him as one of the original ranch commissioners (síndicos de ranchos) for the district that included his property, San Bartolomé Ranch. Disagreements with the governor led to his relinquishing the role in 1812, between the Casas and Green Flag Republic revolts. As a ranch commissioner he was responsible for making sure that stockmen within his district obeyed the various livestock regulations and addressing disputes between them. Just before the outbreak of the Casas Revolt at the end of January 1811, Salinas submitted a report on the ranches in his district, which indicated that, although he employed five field hands, his livestock holdings were modest, one reason he never obtained the post of alcalde. Throughout the revolutionary periods between 1811 and 1813, Salinas remained a loyalist, although he signed on to the 1814 citizens’ petition to Governor Benito Armiñán asking that the Constitution of Cádiz of 1812 be promulgated in Texas. Salinas’s last public office before he died of jaundice in September 1820 was town attorney (síndico procurador) in 1817, a position from which he resigned the same year. He was buried in San Antonio’s Campos Santo.