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I read your piece on the Porvenir Massacre with great interest. You see my great-grandfather was Federico Villalba (1858-1933) who, at the time of the killings, had a Warrant of Authority from the Texas Rangers. Federico's 20,000 acre Rancho Barras was located in Burro Mesa. When word got back to him about this horrific tragedy, he sent his son, Jorge to investigate. Jorge returned with an account of the atrocity los rinches committed. In protest, Federico immediately resigned his Warrant. I have written a book about my great-grandfather and his family that should be on the shelves in late July/early August. It is titled Federico Villaba's Texas, A Mexican Pioneer's Life in the Big Bend, 2008, Iron Mountain Press.

My book also contains the account of his son's, Jacobo and Jorge's involvement in the shooting deaths of Aubrey "Jack", and Winslow Coffman in Study Butte in 1923, and the murder of Jacobo by Delfi "Det" Walker in 1931. Contrary to other published accounts of my great-uncle Jacobo's death, he was not shot by Joe Graham Barnett, a former Texas Ranger. It is true that Det Walker hired Barnett to kill Jacobo, but by Jonce Walker's own admission, Jacobo was killed as a trespasser on the Talley Ranch, though the circumstances and manner of his death are highly disputed.

Also, thank you for sharing the pictorial.

Juan Manuel Casas

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San Antonio Evening News-Tuesday-August 19, 1919. "American cavalrymen and airplanes crossed the border at Candelaria, Texas this morning at daybreak in pursuit of the Mexican bandits who kidnapped Lieutenants H. G. Peterson and Paul H. Davis, United States aviators, and to whom $15,000 ransom was paid last night before Peterson and Davis were released. Davis and Peterson are guiding the troops."

"Maj. Gen. Joseph T. Dickman, commander of the Southern Department, left San Antonio at 1 o'clock today for Eagle Pass, and announced that he would be ready to go to Marfa, the headquarters of the Big Bend district in which Candelaria is located, if his services there are required. So far the movement into Mexico has been solely under the direction of Col. G.T. Langhorne, the commander at Marfa. No announcement had been received by Gen. Dickman that the troops had actually crossed the border when he left for the West."

"At General Dickman's office it was announced that nothing would be given out to the newspapers for publication on the movement across the border. From other sources it was learned that the order to go across the line immediately after Peterson and Davis were safe on this side were telegraphed to Col. Langhorne yesterday. Col. Langhorne assembled 200 cavalrymen from close by stations and had several big army trucks ready to make the dash as soon as it was known that Davis and Peterson were in the hands of the American officers."

"At General Dickman's office it was said the pursuit of the bandits was being conductd under the plan recently adoped to chase lawbreakers who were successful in getting back across the Mexican border."


"While no announcement was made, it was indicated that as soon as the bandits are captured, the cavalry force and airplanes will be withdrawn."

"A telegram was recievd at the headquarters of the Southern Department early this morning telling of the release of Peterson and Davis. Peterson was released shortly after midnight and it was about 2 o'clock this morning when Davis arrived at the point where he met the American officer."

"As agreed upon by agents of the bandits, Capt. Leonard Matlock, of the 8th Cavalry left Candelaria shortly before midnight and went to a place three or four miles across the border on horseback. He deposited half of the $15,000 ransom, as per the contract and went away. He returned to the spot where he had deposited the money a few minutes later, and Lieut. Peterson was there waiting for him. He and Peterson then rode horseback to where the other American officers and soldiers were waiting."

"Capt. Matlock then returned to the same place and shortly after 2 o'clock he galloped back to where the American officers and soldiers were waiting with Lieut. Davis riding behind him on the horse."

"One telegram received a the headquarters of the Southern Department stated that Capt. Matlock did not deposit the last $7,500, as he had agreed to do, but that when he found Davis there, he simply pretended to deposit the money and fled from the scene with the rescued man."

"Gen. Dickman did not understand this part of the telegram, and telegraphed instructions to Col. Langhorne to wire particulars. At Gen. Dickman's office it was stated if Capt. Matlock had not paid over the last money to the bandits as he had agreed to do, the money would be paid, as the army would not be put in the light of having broken faith even with bandits. This statement was issued while United States soldiers were actually chaising the bandits."


"The money paid as ransom was supplied by contributions from cowboys and businessmen around Candelaria. The War Department has instructed Col. Langhorne to notify all those who contributed that they would be reimbursed as soon as the gold car arrive there. The bandits stated in their first communication offering to surrender the men that the money must be in gold coin. They were afraid the acceptance of currency would lead to their identification and arrests."

"Peterson and Davis both say that they were well treated, according to a telegram received by Gen. Dickman today. They say they had plenty to eat and were subjected to no indignities."

"They both believed they had fallen on the American side of the line, and are yet badly mixed as to their directions. It has been clearly established, according to the American army officers, however, that the plane fell Sunday afternoon near Las Vegas and Cuehlile, Mexico. This is about 35 miles below the border. Then the men wandered down the Conchos River, which was close to the point where they fell until they reached Falomir. They were captured near this place Wednesday after they had been without food or shelter three days and nights."

"Peterson and Davis both thought they were captured near Valentine, Texas. They spoke of being taken into the mountains near them. They also spoke of passing near the railroad bridge. There is no bridge near Valentine. The only brindge in theat part of the country is over the Concho River near Falomir and it was decided that they were captured there and taken into the hills west of that place."

"The two fliers were kept in the hills until Monday and then started on the way to the place near Candelaria where the bandits had agreed to deliver them upon the payment to the $15,000. They reached that place Monday night shortly after dark."

"The airmen told the officers rescuing them that the leader of the bandit gang was a one-legged and one-armed Mexican who said he was educated in the United States and that he had been a railroad man in Kansas. He lost his arm and leg in a wreck in Kansas, he said."

"There were about twenty men in the kidnapping party, according to Peterson, but he said the leader of the gang told him he had a bandit force of about sixty men."

"The airplane was torn to pieces by the fall Sunday, according to information received here, and the telegram said the machine gun mounted on the pane was put out of commission. The messages received today did not state what happened to the plane to make it fall, but it is believed it was crippled during the violent storm which started soon after the men went out on the trip. If the belief of the army officials here is sustained by later telegrams Peterson and Davis went south while they believed they were going northwest."

"This is explained by fliers who say that that frequently a plane may be heading a wind and seeming traveling 75 miles an hour in one direction when it is actually being blown at that speed in another direction."

"Lieut. Davis, who was stationed at Kelly Field for some time, was sent from here to the border recently to do radio work. While at Kelly Field, he was engaged in installing radio on the planes. Before being assigned to that work, he was one of the assistant adjutants in the personnel department. He is also well known in San Antonio."

For a detailed account of the kidnapping, ransom and the last American punitive expedition into Mexico see Little Known History Of The Texas Big Bend available at Gj

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The Galveston Daily, May 27-1915. "A Texas ranger and a river guard have been ambushed and killed by Mexicans near Pilares, on the Texas side of the Rio Grande, according to official advices received today by Adjutant General Hutchings from Marfa, Texas. Ranger Winfield F. Hulen, brother of former Adjutant General John A. Hulen of Houston, and Joe Sitters, a river guard, are the victims of the ambush."

"Ranger Hulen and River guard Sitters were killed on the morning of May 24. The bodies were not found until the evening of May 25, and both had been shot to pieces. They were in such condition that they could not be moved and they were buried at McGee Gulch, near the scene of the fight."

"The information received by the adjutant general also stated that Ranger Eugene B. Bates was killed, but Bates later sent a telegram to Hutchings denying the report."

"Governor Ferguson declined to discuss the subject further than to say he would make an investigation. The adjutant general was in conference with the governor during this morning."



Houston, Tex. May 26-1915 General John A. Hulen, general freight and passenger agent of the Trinity & Brazos Valley Railroad, was apprised this morning of the death of his brother, a state ranger, at Pilares on the Mexican border, 600 miles west of Houston. Until three months ago Mr. Hilen resided in Houston.

According to information received today by General Hulen trouble has been brewing at the particular on the Rio Grande River for several days. Some smuggling has been going on and a few and a few days ago some Mexican soldiers crossed the river, raided a ranch on the Texas border and killed Pablo Jimenez, a naturalized citizen of the United States. It presumed that the trouble between the rangers and the Mexicans arose over this incident.



SAN ANTONIO, TEX., MAY 26-1915 A report from Marfa says that the bodies of Ranger Gene Hulen and River Guard Joe Sitters, who were killed by Mexican bandits, showed that the two officers had been literally shot to pieces and their heads crushed with rocks. The bodies were in such condition that they could not be brought to Marfa, but were interred on the McGee ranch. The Mexicans had robbed their victims of everything, even to their boots and coats, their saddlebags and horses. The official report of the band of of Mexicans numbering thirty-five and headed by a notorious outlaw, escaped into Mexico.

Note: The McGee Ranch where Hulen and Sitters were buried is today's Rancho Viejo located some 17 miles north of Candelaria. The bodies were later moved. Joe Sitters lies in the Valentine cemetery and I am not sure where Hulen's grave is located. Gj

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Oral Interview, Glenn Willeford With Dr. Gerald G. Raun Concerning Walter Prescott Webb's The Texas Rangers: A Century of Frontier Defense (1935).  
"I'm Glenn Willeford and this is the eighth of April 2008. We're at the house of Dr. and Mrs. Gerald Raun in Alpine, Texas and I will be asking Dr. Raun a few questions, one of which I think is of great importance. First, Dr. Raun, what is your background at the University of Texas in Austin? What we're referring to specifically is getting around to the point of you being at the home of Walter Prescott Webb one evening as a graduate student."

Raun: I was a graduate student in biology a the University of Texas 1956 to 1961 and I do not exactly remember the occasion why there were a group of us, at Walter Prescott Webb's home near the University of Texas in Austin, Bedichek was there..

Willeford: That's Roy Bedichek?

Raun: [Affirative] Perhaps he's the reason we were there because he's a naturalist.

Willeford: "All right".

Raun: But, ah, somewhere in the conversation the question was asked Dr. Webb about his book on the Texas Rangers..

Willeford: "This would be the 1930's.."

Raun: Yeah, the original. Well, its been reprinted, that's the original 1930's edition. He discussed it a little bit and said rather sadly that he was sorry that he had written it the way he did and that it desperately needed to be redone. And I think he was planning to re-do that when he was killed.

Willeford: "Okay, and how was he killed?"

Raun: "In an automobile accident; I don't remember the exact date, in the sixties I think."

Willeford: "He and his wife, if I am not mistaken."

Raun: I believe that's correct, I believe that's correct, yeah.

Willeford: "Do you remember how the subject came up that evening or was it in the afternoon?"

Raun: I'm pretty sure it was afternoon but I don't recall specifically who asked the question but somebody did bring up the subject of the book and asked him about it.

Willeford: "Did he go into any other specifics why he thought he needed to revise it?"

Raun: "No, we changed the subject, or he did probably."

Willeford: "Okay, that will end the interview. Thank you, I think this is a very important short interview." [End].

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El Paso Herald January 19, 1915. Sierra Blanca, Texas. "The body of H. F. Boykin, who was killed by H. L. Robertson at an early hour Saturday morning, was interred in the Sierra Blanca cemetery at 2:30 p.m. Monday. The casket and grave were beautifully decorated with flowers. Relatives from elsewhere who attended the funeral were: Miss Ada Boykin, sister of the deceased from San Angelo, Texas ; Miss Florence Boykin, sister, El Paso, Texas: Mrs. T. C. Armstrong, sister, El Paso, Texas; C. Barren, San Angelo, Texas; Mrs. D. M. Logan, Colorado, Texas; Bert Humphris, Marfa, Texas."

"Walter Sitters, who was fatally shot by Robertson at the same time, died about 5 p. m. Saturday evening and his body was shipped to his father's home in Valentine, and was employed by the T. O. Ranch at the time of his death. Mr. Sitters, the father, arrived Saturday, expecting to take the wounded boy to the hospital in El Paso, but the son died just a few minutes before the train arrived."

Many thanks to Doyle Phillips for the documents! Gj

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I am researching some family oral history which occurred in Presidio, likely in the summer of 1917. I am looking for a newspaper/official account of this event. Can you suggest some directions/web sites?

Hugh Fletcher

In the summer of 1917, Presidio County deputy sheriff John Fletcher Rawls, a rancher in the Casa Piedra area of Presidio County, Texas was wounded in a shootout in the Anaya Cafe on Main Street in Presidio , Texas. The gunmen were renegade members of the US Army who were protecting the border against Pancho Villa. Rawls, commissioned by Sheriff Ira Cline, of Presidio County, Texas was the only lawman in the immediate area and alone, challenged the band of seven armed men when he discovered them in a back room of the cafe with the waitresses who had been taken prisoner for sexual purposes. The waitresses were daughters of the owner, part of a family that had taken refuge in Presidio to avoid the revolution that was taking place in Northern Mexico, particularly in their home state of Chihuahua. When Rawls opened the door to the back room the shoot out began. Rawls tripped on the step to the room which was raised above the ground floor level of the main floor, and as the shooters ran past him, as he scrambled to get up off the floor, they unloaded their service pistols into him, escaping but leaving the girls unharmed. They were never identified or tried as their identities were never known. Somehow Rawls lived, although severely crippled. After a year of hospitalization with a huge amount of doctor bills, Rawls sold his ranch and moved to El Paso, Texas He died in Austin, Texas Dec 21, 1958. After the revolution, the Anaya family returned to their home in Chihuahua.

Suggest you check the El Paso Times index at the El Paso Public Library and also see the El Paso Time microfilm for summer of 1917. UTPB library in Odessa also has El Paso Times on microfilm. Also see vertical files at El Paso public library. Keep Googling the web, you might be surprised at what you find. Set up a Google email alert for your key words.Gj

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Hi Glenn,

What information can you give me about Dias y Ocho Army camp?
All I have is one paragraph from the Electric Coop article. Also the church on the Rio Grande. North of Porvenir.
Octaviano's place.

James Lopez


Also known as Camp Evetts the Dias y Ocho U.S. Army was located at Soldier's Springs not far from Porvenir. The camp was constructed from abandoned railroad ties salvaged from from the Rio Grande Northern Railroad that ran from Chispa to the coal mine near San Carlos. In 1918, Camp Evetts was home to Troop G of the Eighth Cavalry. In February of that year, a group of Texas Rangers and vigilantes came to Camp Evetts on their way to Porvenir where they massacred 15 men and boys before putting the village to the torch. By the fall of 1919, most of the upper Big Bend border cavalry outposts had been abandoned by the U.S. military. Although I know of the church or Octaviano's Place, don't know a lot about it. It lies at the crossing to Pilares. Pilares is shown on some old map's as a Spanish prison camp in the 1700's. Also, there was supposedly a gold mine located in the moutains outside Pilares about that time. Pilares Mexico is often confused with Pilares or Porvenir, Texas. The Handbook of Texas article confuses the two places. Part of the confusion comes from the fact that following the Porvenir massacre, the postmaster fled across the river to Mexico taking with him the Porvenir post mark stamp. For years after that, letters bearing Porvenir, Texas were actually postmarked in Pilares, Mexico. Gj

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My name is McKenna Apodaca and I am the Great Great Grand Daughter of Ranger Joe Sitters. I am nine years old, and I have just finished reading a chapter about Joe Sitters in Mike Cox's book about Texas Rangers. My father and I decided to search my GG Grandfathers name and your site came up and to our surprise we saw his picture. Thank you for having it up there, and can you tell me where you found this great photo? I would like to get a copy myself. Thank you and take care.


McKenna Apodaca

The photo of your grandfather was made sometime before 1913 on the steps of the Presidio County Courthouse in Marfa. It is the photo, third from the left at the top of my blog. Texas Ranger Joe Sitters is shown at the left of the photo with Jack Howard next, an unknown man and at the right, U. S. Customs inspector Luke Dowe. I got a copy of the photo from Marian Walker of Candelaria. Marian was Jack Howard's daughter who along with her sister, Nell Howard owned and operated the Candelaria store for many years. In 1913, Sitters and Howard were ambushed near Porvenir, Texas. Jack Howard died from his wounds and your grandfather, Joe Sitters was shot in the head. He survived but was killed in another ambush on the Mexican border in 1915. My apologies for taking so long on this, I misplaced your email and only now found it. If you will email your mailing address, I will make you a high quality copy your grandfather's picture and mail it to you. I am presently working on a chapter about Joe Sitters for my new book. Gj

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Hello Mr. Justice,

Saw your website and decided to send you an email.

It's possible we have crossed paths at the West Texas Historical Assoc. meetings?

Like yourself, I am also very interested in West Texas history.
Currently I am serving on the Board of Directors for WTHA, and teach US History part-time at Dallas Baptist University. At this years WTHA, 2007 meeting (Abilene) I planned to attend your session, however, I also had a paper to present during the same hour.

I have done quite a bit of research over the years in Jack/Young/ and Palo Pinto Counties, where my family settled during the frontier period. For some time I have wanted to publish my research. I have considered submitting my work to a regional University press, however I think the flexibility of self-publishing might be a better route.

I noticed you have published several books, (I have a copy of your
Revolution on the Rio Grande). If you don't mind I have a few publishing questions for you.

I noticed you operate under the name of RimRock Press, a label that
promotes your work. I assume you contract the printing of your books independently and under the label of RimRock control the marketing and distribution?

The reason I ask I have observed your site as a close model of what I would like to launch to promote my own research. I have secured the domain name of BRAZOSBOOKS.COM, which I plan to use as the main website to promote my work. I plan to find a source, which will print the books with my "Brazos Books" name, and I will then assume all marketing, sales, and management. I have heard is a possible source to accomplish this? So is this the arrangement you also use?

Any advice would be appreciated. I really like your website, you have obviously spent quite a bit of time creating it.

Best Regards,

Wes J. Sheffield

Rimrock Press is my publishing company that I use to produce and market my books. I chose this approach some years ago after becoming frustrated with the attitudes and policies of commercial and university presses. I have used both and not had a positive experience with either. Generally commercial presses are simply not interested in publishing regional histories. And while University presses do publish most of our history books, they frequently have their own agendas and tend to only go to press with works done by writers associated with the university. No matter how fine your work, it's not what you know but rather who you know in these circles. Another problem is the fact that these publishers want your work and your copyright but don't want to pay for it. The same applies to historical associations who publish in their journals. After spending years researching and writing my books I feel my time is worth something more than the usual $1 per copy sold by these outfits.

Having said this, the world of self-publishing is not something most people will want to undertake. For one thing, there is absolutely no money to be made publishing history books. You will have to spend your money going to press and it will take years for you to see any return on your investment. There are numerous book manufactures who offer publishing services but few have much interest in doing regional histories. I use Bookmasters and have been well satisfied with their services. See

Finally, once you have managed to produce a press ready book, you will be responsible for the marketing of your book and the world of book distributing is a snake pit. None of the big book stores such as Barnes and Noble or Borders or any of the others will buy books directly from the publishers. You must go through one of their "approved" distributors. These distributors are a very tight knit group and will do their best to squeeze you out of business before you even start. They will not take you books without heavy discounts and not even consider a publisher with only a few book offerings. Bookmasters will market your books for a monthly fee. The only market you will find for your history books, other than single copy internet sales, are local book stores who many times will only take your books on consignment and then not pay you. In short, if you want to make money writing books probably the best advice I can give is write trashy romance novels, not history books. Gj

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In going over my father's library we found a stack of post-cards stuffed in a small binder. They were postcards of scenes of the conflict with Villa at Columbus and other locations. The cards are in fair condition. Not great, and show some gristly scenes as well
as scenes of troop trains etc.

Is there any interest in these postcards? It is very possible that
they are just a set of cards which were distributed widely and not very unique.

I can send scans of several if that would be of interest.

David Sims

Today these postcards of the Mexican revolution are a little known but collectable glimpse into the horrors of that bloody civil war. While their monetary value has increased only slightly in the last few years, collectors do seek them out. During the years when they were produced and mainly marketed to U.S. soldiers stationed on the Mexican border, many thousands were sent home to families of these border guardians. Curiously the postcards seem to be more common in the states away from the border. You can find these postcards for sale on ebay but beware of overpricing and fakes. To learn more about these postcards I suggest you read Border Fury: A Picture Postcard Record of Mexico's Revolution and U.S. War Preparedness, 1919-1917 by Paul J. Vanderwood and Frank N. Samponaro published by University of New Mexico Press. Gj

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