Ray Thomas was born in Alpine, Texas and raised in Presidio, Texas on the border of Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico. His roots in ranching run deep in the Chihuahua desert where his extended family own vast cattle ranches and operate a customs brokerage that exports thousands of head of cattle and imports tons of agricultural products each year.
Upon graduation from St. Mary’s University and the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, Ray returned to the Texas border to practice law. From his law office in McAllen, Texas, Ray is recognized as one of the top trial lawyers in the country, repeatedly nominated by his peers to Texas Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America. He holds title to some of the largest jury verdicts in Texas history, including one listed in the Southwest Verdicts Hall of Fame. Ray serves the legal profession and the people of Texas in various leadership capacities. He also serves as a permanent deacon in the Roman Catholic Church since his ordination in December 2010.
During his 30 years of lawyering, Ray and his law partners owned and operated a ranch in South Texas which they developed into a private resort, including a lodge with a gourmet kitchen and five cabanas. The ranch offered whitetail, turkey, quail and dove hunting, fishing and sporting clay shooting. Ray and his family hosted countless VIP guests at the ranch, including federal, state and local elected officials, famous artists and religious leaders.
Ray married Sandra Gonzalez in St. Augustine Catholic Church, Laredo, Texas, on April 1, 1989. Their children include their son, Ray (affectionally known as Rey Ray or King Ray), their daughter and son-in-law, Hanna and Adrian Adame, and their precious granddaughter Madeline Rose. All share the same love and passion for Santos Patronos Ranch.
The cattle brand for Santos Patronos Ranch was conceived and designed by Ray and Sandra Thomas. The brand includes an S for Sandra, an R for Ray, and a T for Thomas. More importantly, the T represents the Cross of Christ. The brand reflects the sacramental marriage of Sandra and Ray, united at the foot of the Cross.
A cattle brand is a design that is seared into the hide of an animal, such as cattle or other livestock, usually around the hip, to identify the owner of the animals. Each brand is distinct, so that lost cows—either through wandering animals or cattle rustlers–could be returned to their rightful owner. Besides tattooing, branding is the only marking that will last an animal’s life span.
Livestock branding has been going on for at least 4,700 years, and likely longer. According to a Smithsonian.com article, an ancient Egyptian tomb painting depicting a cattle roundup and branding from 2700 BC is the earliest record of livestock branding. There are also allusions to the practice in Roman literature and in the Bible, namely with Jacob the herdsman.
Cattle were introduced to the Americas by Spanish explorers, and the tradition of cattle branding came as well. According to a piece by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), the three Latin crosses of the brand of Hernán Cortés, a conquistador in southern Mexico in the 1500s, may well be the first brand to be used in the Western Hemisphere.
The practice was soon taken up by cattle owners throughout the Americas, but it was made well-known by the cowboys of the American West. According to the TSHA piece, early Anglo-American Texan ranchers utilized the alphabet for their brands, as opposed to the pictographs with meaningful curlicues and adornments used by Spanish and Mexican ranchers. The branding practice developed to the point where it almost has its own language and meaning.
Keeping records of brands began in Mexico by the Spanish in the 1500s, and the earliest recording in Texas is believed to be of Richard H. Chisholm, registered in Gonzales County in 1832.
Santos Patronos is Spanish for “patron saints”. Our firm belief in the communion of saints is enshrined in the Apostles’ Creed. The “communion of saints” refers to the whole community of faithful followers of Christ, living and dead, past, present and future. This faith community stretches beyond space and time. We commune with believers who came before us and believers who will come after us.
A patron saint is a saint who has been chosen as a special intercessor with God for a particular person, place, community, or organization. Early inscriptions in the catacombs and the writings of the Fathers bear testimony that since the earliest days of the Church, groups of the faithful (families, parishes, regions, countries) have chosen a particularly holy person who has passed on to intercede for them with God.
Scripture urges us to pray for one another; and, as Christians, we believe that those who have died still live, and therefore are capable of offering prayers as we do. Seeking the intercession of a patron saint does not mean that one cannot approach God directly in prayer. Rather, it's like asking a friend or family member to pray for you except, in this case, the friend or family member is already in Heaven, and can pray to God for us without ceasing.
We consider our loved ones who have gone before us to be the patron saints of our family. We chose to name our ranch Santos Patronos in honor our deceased family members on who shoulders we stand. Without the hard work and sacrifices they made while here on earth and their constant prayers and intercession for us while in Heaven, none of this would be possible. The name of the ranch also reminds us this ranch belongs to Him and we strive to be good stewards of His land.
Santos Patronos Ranch is steeped in Texas history. Now owned by the Thomas Family, this land was originally part of El Capote Ranch. The founder of El Capote Ranch was Count Jose De La Baume (1731-1834), a French army officer who came to North America with Marquis De Lafayette and fought in the American Revolution.
Santos Patronos Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3), non-profit foundation created by the Thomas family as a means for continuing our charitable and philanthropic activities. For decades, the Thomas family has generously supported many charities, especially those supporting education, youth and the disadvantaged. Santos Patronos Ranch contributes 10% of its gross revenues to the Foundation so that we can continue our works of charity and mercy.
Santos Patronos Ranch produces exquisite Wagyu beef known for its flavor and tenderness. We’re in the business of raising Wagyu for food, but we have huge respect for our animals and we treat them with compassion and care by making sure they are as comfortable and stress-free as possible. Our animals are pampered. The marbling is superior. The result of our labor of love is pure succulence.
The name “pecan” stems from Native American language and means “a nut that requires a stone to crack.” Texas is one of the largest producers of pecans in the United States, and the pecan tree is the State Tree of Texas. Seguin is home to the “world’s largest pecan” and holds an annual Pecan Fest Heritage Days. The black soil near the Guadalupe river is fertile ground for pecan trees. Santos Patronos Ranch has roughly 900 pecan trees, many of which are over 100 years old. On a good year, we can harvest up to 50,000 pounds of pecans. Our healthy and tasty pecans add great flavor to all pecan recipes, our favorite is pecan pie.