Salmon, John A. (1827–1897)

By: William V. Scott

Type: Biography

Published: April 21, 2022

Updated: April 21, 2022

John A. Salmon, Texas Ranger, farmer, and rancher, was born the son of wagon maker Joseph Salmon and Sarah Elizabeth (Roberts) Salmon, in Kentucky about 1827. Genealogy sources list the date as October 17, 1827. The Salmon family immigrated to Texas and was reported in Titus County on the 1850 census. Prior to 1860 John Salmon married Mary Ann Jolly, and the couple had eight children—George, Eliza, John (“Jack”), Elizabeth, James, Romulus, Henry, and Virginia.

On the 1860 census at Stephenville in Erath County, John Salmon was reported as a “Ranger.” He operated 300 acres where he ran 25 horses, more than 300 cattle, 10 sheep, and 100 head of swine. On February 28, 1860, John Salmon enlisted in a ranger company and was elected first lieutenant. He commanded the company of the mounted rangers in which he also served as quartermaster. Salmon and his company were in camp on the North Palo Pinto Creek in Erath County in April and May 1860. The company was officially discharged on May 21, 1860. In February 1861 Salmon enlisted on temporary service as second lieutenant in Capt. James “Buck” Barry’s Company of Texas Mounted Rifles, who enlisted at Stephenville and served at Camp Cooper. On May 7, the company was disbanded at Camp Cooper under the authority of Col. Henry E. McCulloch.

On May 17, 1861, Salmon again enlisted, but for ninety-day service, and was elected first lieutenant in Capt. John J. Keith’s Company of Erath County Minute Men, Texas State Troops. Erath County settler W. N. Nicholas, in a recollection printed in Frontier Times in 1926, recounted that in June 1861, after a large American Indian raid, Captain Salmon pursued the raiders towards Cedar Gap and overtook them at Mulberry Canyon, which was also known as Horsehead Canyon.  The company was often on scout and was officially discharged on February 28, 1862.

In February 1862 John Salmon was elected captain and served as commander for twelve months of Company B for Erath County of the Frontier Regiment under Col. James M. Norris at Stephenville. Salmon resigned on December 19, 1862, at Camp Salmon, which was named for him. His father, Joseph Salmon, served as a private in the same company.  In August 1863 Salmon was listed in Capt. William Edmiston Motheral’s Company A of the Rangers of Frontier Protection, Twentieth Brigade, Texas State Troops, stationed at Stephenville for local defense under Governor Francis R. Lubbock’s proclamation of August 7, 1863. Salmon was soon elected to third lieutenant of the company.

According to a report printed in the April 29, 1870, edition of the Galveston Daily News, on a Monday evening earlier in the month, about twelve miles northwest of Stephenville, John Salmon, Lafayette Latham, and one other man had a battle with “nine Indians, driving out about 150 head of horses.” After Salmon and company charged the party, they “recaptured the horses and killed one Indian,” and Latham was wounded in the knee. On the 1870 census, Salmon was living on Bosque Creek in Erath County and was a stock raiser and farmer. In the first quarter of 1873, John Salmon and son George Green Salmon served as privates in the Texas State Police, District 4 out of Austin. The elder Salmon and other policeman were sent by Governor Edmund J. Davis to enforce the law in Lampasas County. By 1877 the Salmons were in Kinney County, Texas, and the 1880 census listed John Salmon as a sheep raiser. The family settled approximately seventeen miles northeast of Brackettville on the West Prong, a tributary of the East Nueces River. Salmon Peak in that region is named for John Salmon.

Following his divorce from Mary in 1886, Salmon moved to Dimmit County to live with his son Jack. About 1889 John Salmon settled in an area that was later known as Prairie View, fifteen miles west of Cotulla, in La Salle County, where he was near the family of his brother-in-law, Joseph Washington McMains. John A. Salmon died on September 28. 1897, in LaSalle County, and it is thought that he was buried in the vicinity of the Prairie View Schoolhouse and Church. His will stated that he had resided in Dimmit County at the time of his will’s execution and that he owned property in La Salle County and other parts of the state. His real and personal property totaled $5,000.          

Cotulla Record, October 25, 1929. Barry A. Crouch and Donaly E. Brice, The Governor's Hounds: The Texas State Police, 1870–1873 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011). Frontier Times, February 1926. Galveston Daily News, April 29, 1870. ) Historical Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin (Camp Salmon). Annette Martin Ludeman, La Salle County, South Texas Brush Country 1856–1975 (Quanah, Texas: Nortex Press, 1975). Bruce Roberts, Springs From the Parched Ground (Uvalde, Texas: Rev. Bruce Roberts, 1950). Vertical Files, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco, Texas.

  • Agriculture
  • Farmers
  • Military
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen
  • Sheep and Goat Ranchers
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas

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

William V. Scott, “Salmon, John A.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 24, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

April 21, 2022
April 21, 2022