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Its official, William A. (Andy) Cloud is the new director of the Center For Big Bend Studies at Sul Ross in Alpine. The center could not have found a more qualified and experienced new leader; Andy knows his Big Bend archaeology. He holds a B.A. in Archaeological Studies and an M.A. in Anthropology with focus in Archaeology from the University of Texas in Austin. A native Texan, Cloud has more than thirty years experience in Texas Archaeology serving, since 1995 as Senior Project Archaeologist, for CBBS. He has written extensively researching, writing and co-authoring more than forty archaeological reports as well as teaching anthropology at Sul Ross. In addition, he worked for the Office of the State Archaeologist at the Texas Historical Commission, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Big Bend National Park, and the Texas Archaeological Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin. Andy is also the lead author for the La Junta exhibit on the website. Lots of good stuff on the site, check it out.

Also take a look at Andy's exceptional work at the La Junta sites in Presidio County:

For some of Andy's other articles see: ... p;exclude=

I have known Andy for many years and am so pleased, as are quite a few of us historians that he has been chosen to lead the CBBS. We look forward to the continued growth and success of CBBS in the future with Andy and know he will make it happen.

Congratulations Andy!


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Preface: Why Heroes and Heroines? 
I came to Mexico in 1994 to accept a job teaching English literature, History, and Composition in English (the latter, basically a course in writing the so-called "college essay,") at the Facultad de Filosofia Y Letras, a discipline within the Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua at Chihuahua City. As with most colleges, so often wrongly nominated "universities," most of the students were less than enthused about the curriculum. That notwithstanding, there were exceptions. Srta. Blanca Estela Moreno A., a Spanish-speaking native of Mexico, was one. This essay, now four-years-written, while not perfect, remains a stirring example of a young woman's attempt to express her love of country. Perhaps we norteamericanos should ponder over Blanca's words and reflect upon our own endangered heritage.

Glenn Willeford, M. A.

Someone has to do something
Blanca Estela Moreno Arias

One single person could never imagine how normal summer vacations could change his perspective of life. That happened to me last summer, when I met, in a literal way, this great woman. She was a woman just like me, or also any of my classmates or friends. The only difference was that real love she always felt for her native country.
The story of this woman captivated me since the first moment I heard it. Since the first moment I knew that was a special story, a story that taught us something very valuable that must of us have forgotten, and that valuable thing is the love we must have to their country. This noble woman is the perfect example we must have. But it is time to finish with the pending ... let's introduce her.
Mar'a Elisa Martiniana Griensen Zambrano was the hero who Parral never will forget. Elisa Griensen was the model of person who the country was looking for, and she's also the model of person who I'm very proud of. The important fact Elisa Griensen did would make that not only Parral, but also Mexico was cover with pride of her.
But actually...who is Elisa Griensen and what was her heroic act? That's a very common question that most of you have in your mind in this precise moment. That is because unfairly, only a few people outside Parral have heard about Elisa Griensen and her historic fact. Therefore, I invite you to know the story of this woman who really loved her motherland.
Elisa Griensen was born in Parral from a noble, but big family, that's where our story begins. Don Juan Griensen and Do'a Mar'a Luc'a Zambrano were the parents of nine children: Elisa was one of that 9; actually, she was almost the youngest. That was happy times for the Griensen family; unfortunately, the happiness is not for always.
The hardest times for the Griensen family began earlier than ever. When Elisa was four years old both of her parents die, and then is responsability of Virginia, the elder of all the nine children, take care of her little brothers and sisters since that moment. It was a hard work for Virginia.
In that precise moment one man appears to help and to stay with the Griensen family forever. In the year of 1894, Virginia got married with Pedro Alvarado Torres, a man who, with hard work, is trying to obtain the rich silver lodes of his famous mine "La Palmilla". The love he had for his woman Virginia, made that he took care of all the Griensen family side by side with his dear wife.
An amazing fact takes by surprise to all the family in 1900. "La Palmilla" started to give incredible economic outputs that would the end of the austerity and sacrifice life of the Griensen family forever, and also would give to Parral a worldwide fame.
Don Pedro Alvarado was now the owner of the biggest fortune ever. His fortune was so big, that he built the famous Palacio Alvarado, and sometimes his friend Francisco Villa asked him for some money to buy weapons for his army. The fortune of Don Pedro was so big, that also he wrote a letter to the president Porfirio D'az where he wrote that he wanted to help to his country paying the external debt of Mexico.
Despite the fact that Don Pedro was the richest man ever, he always was an extremely noble person. He fought with energy to the end to be the sucessful man now he was. In spite that his business made of him an always-busy man, he never stopped helping people who needed him. He never forgot what kind of man he was; Parral was pride of him.
In the year of 1905, Pedro's happiness began to fall down. On May fifth, his dear wife Virginia dies, and this fact finished with him in an unknown way. Another May fifth, four years later, Don Pedro had to sold "La Palmilla" to pay a lot of debts he had. His economic power came to an end. Elisa, who was then 21 years old, had lived happiness and sadness with Don Pedro, like one of the members of his family.
The pass of seven years was still necessary in Parral to know the heroic act of Elisa Griensen. Now that we know how were the circumstances of the life of Elisa Griensen and the childhood she lived, it is also extremely important to you to know the most important antecedent for Elisa's historical fact. What's this important antecedent? Francisco Villa's Columbus attack.
What were the reasons of Villa to attack Columbus? There are many theories. This is one of them: Villa was defeated in Celaya by Carranza forces represented by Obreg'n, so Villa decided to go to the North and attack Agua Prieta, Sonora, that had the defense of Plutarco Elas Calles. Villa attacked Agua Prieta; however, Carranza's forces passed the frontier and defended Agua Prieta by the North American side.
Villa took this attack like treason, so he decided to look for revenge. Villa was extremely upset because the president of the USA, Woodrow Wilson, had admitted the Carranza's government, and he decided to attack the nearest town to show his desire of revenge: that was Columbus.
But also exist another interesting theory about why Villa attacked Columbus. He had made a business with the Ravel Brothers; they gave to them 265, 000. 00 dollars to buy weapons. The Ravel Brothers accepted the money, but they never sent the weapons. Of course, Villa never would accept that, so he decided to attack Columbus to punish to the Ravel Brothers. This is the most accepted theory about why Villa attacked Columbus.
Villa didn't find to the Ravel Brothers, but the attack continued. Villa asked to the people where the Ravel Brothers could stay, but the people didn't want to talk, so he decided to set fire to the Ravel's house and hotels, but the fire got bigger and affected all the town. A lot of people die that day, and the injured were uncountable. Villa and all his people left the town at dawn.
North American people never would forget Villa's attack. North American soldiers started to cross the frontier looking for Francisco Villa to punish him for the attack to Columbus. They didn't worried about to ask for permission to cross the frontier, they only wanted to punish Villa.
The soldiers began to make camps inside the Mexican territory to find Villa as soon as possible and wherever he was. They started to advance inside all the North territory, and after that they started to advance to the South. Finally, they arrived to Hidalgo del Parral on April 12th, 1916. The most important mistake the soldiers made is that they didn't follow the only order they had: not to cross inside the town.
The soldiers installed their camps in the Plaza Porfirio D'az, in front of the Escuela 99, without suspect the things would happen later. People were very upset because the soldiers were there. Everybody talked, and also gave his or her opinion; however, nobody did anything about it. Nobody could know that this entire situation would change very soon.
A young woman who was 28 years old would change the complete situation. Elisa Griensen Zambrano was among that entire people watching that horrible landscape where all the persons were talking without do one single thing. Then she went, looking for some help, to talk with the municipal president. He heard all the things that young woman said, but he didn't do one single thing either. In that precise moment, Elisa knew it was time to act by her own.
Elisa never would stay with the arms folded. She returned to the Plaza Porfirio D'az and organized the people who were there in that right moment. Then she went to the Escuela 99; she entered to the principal's office and took the national flag. After she went to the fifth grade classroom and invited to 24 students to help her to take off that foreign force that was invading their country. Elisa returned one more time to Plaza Porfirio D'az, now with the brave fifth grade students follow her and the national flag on her hands. She told to the people: "I asked for help but no one heard me, however... someone has to do something".
Elisa invited to the people to help her and they did it. It was a great sucess. Elisa invited to the people to sing the Mexican National Anthem and to expulse the enemy. People and also children began to throw stones to the North American soldiers, and some of them made some shoots to the air. Only a few injured and two die American soldiers were the result of this confrontation, but finally, the foreign forces had gone to the north. Elisa and the people from Parral had got the victory.
Since that special day, Elisa Griensen was considered not only in Parral but also in Mexico a national hero. People never would forget the historic fact Elisa Griensen was made on April 12th. It was a day to remember.
However, what were the reasons Elisa had to act like she acted that April 12th? Only a few people know that beautiful answer. A few months later of the historical fact, Elisa and Villa finally found face to face. Elisa boarded Villa's car without permission. When the General saw her, he got angry and quickly told her: "nobody is brave enough to front General Villa, and less to board his car... who are you little girl?" She quickly said: "I'm Elisa Griensen" Villa spoke again: "you're the woman who confronted the "gringos". Elisa answered: "Yes, my General, I'm that woman". Villa's last question was: "why did you do that? are you Villista or Carrancista?". Elisa's answer was always the same: "Neither Villista nor Carrancista, I did it for Mexico".
The beautiful example Elisa Griensen gave us never must be forgotten. We must have the same love she had for her country. This story about Elisa Griensen changed my life. I wrote this essay hoping that more people know her story and become an admirator of her and the things she did, because, like she used to say: somebody has to do something.

Name: Blanca Estela Moreno Arias
Grade: 2nd semester
Teacher: Glenn Willeford
Group: A
Date: 10/02/04

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On Sunday, August 24, 2008, 02:32 AM, Domingo Garcia Cano wrote:

Chico Cano was my great grandfather and he was who the Rangers were looking for when they got to Porvenir,Texas. I visited the masscare site during a family reunion in Van Horn, and all the bodies of the victims were buried in one big pit. Their should be a Texas historical memorial marker at this site. Su Familia, Su Tierra, Su Hogar: Chico Cano fought for family, land, home
Publish Date: February 1, 2006 | Permanent Link
by Sam Richardson

You won't see many people wearing Chico Cano T-Shirts. The Mexican revolutionary figure is not as well known as Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, two of his early 20th century contemporaries. Villa and Zapata have become not only icons but big business as well. Their likenesses are sold and seen on T-Shirts, post cards, calendars, and in many other applications. Even street gangs use them as emblems of power.

But Chico Cano, in his own way, lived up to the revolutionary image of fighter, hero _ even bandit _ as much or mores than other more celebrated figures. And because he occasionally redistributed the wealth of the more fortunate, Cano has also been described as a Mexican Robin Hood.

Chico Cano was not perfect but he was an honorable man, according to authors Tony Cano and Janet Sochat. In their book, Bandido. The True Story of Chico Cano, the Last Western Bandit (Canutillo: Reata Press, 1997), the writers portray him as a man who was driven by the motto: Su familia, su tierra, su hogar. He used the remote reaches of the Rio Grande border as his own Sherwood Forest and its argued that his rustling, gun battles, and banditry, regardless of how others perceived them, were done in the name of family, land, home.

Chico very obviously wore a black hat in his actions against the Americans and some Mexicans but was known to wear a white hat as well in the aid and protection he brought to many people in the areas he controlled,_ the authors write. And they make an important distinction between Cano and other leaders of the revolutionary period. Whereas many revolutionary groups indulged themselves in the spoils of war, Cano drew the line at abusing innocent people, especially women.

Chico admonished those, Anglo or Mexican, who would not respect and care for the Mexican people, but rather raped, pillaged, and intimidated them,_ according to his biographers. And in contrast to Pancho Villa, who had 25 wives, Cano was devoted to one woman all his life. His beloved Teresa.

During the Mexican Revolution, Chico Cano was as enigmatic as the political situation in Mexico. Even though he is portrayed by the authors as a man loyal to his wife and family, and a man who had his own loyal following of armed men, his political loyalties shifted frequently.

He was first allied with Orozco, then with Carranza, both of whom were rivals of Villa. Then he lined up with Villa, then with Carranza again. Eventually he became totally independent. To use an old cowboy expression, He changed horses in midstream a lot. And he wound up being hunted not only by all of his former associates in Mexico but by the U.S. government as well.

None, it should be noted, ever put him out of business.

Authors Cano and Sochat portray Chico Cano on the one hand as a survivor, on the other as a victim. Since his loyalties were negotiable, and since he was constantly changing sides, all his former associates were eager to blame him for whatever banditry and violence occurred anywhere he might have been. Some tried to blame him for the Brite Ranch raid where a ranch south of Marfa was attacked in 1917. Others tacked his name onto every stolen horse or cow that crossed the Rio Grande during those turbulent times.

With one exception, the authors never admit Cano ever killed anybody or was directly responsible for any killing. In a drunken accident, Cano killed a young boy while trying to shoot a bottle off his head. In other instances, including the killing of Ranger Joe Sitter in a famous border gun battle, all possible alibis are entertained by the authors as to why Chico Cano was more than likely innocent.

When he was elderly and on his deathbed, Cano was asked if he was afraid to meet his maker. He said, My Father was my maker. Poverty was my maker. Distrust was my maker. I have met them all my life.

Cano died in 1943 of natural causes, still a hero to his people.

For further consideration is the question how many of the problems between the U.S. and Mexico in the early 20th century were created by the United States? Some would argue that one of the leading causes of the Mexican Revolution was U.S. investment in Mexico which helped create the one-sided economy of the Dictator Porfirio Diaz. His thirty-year reign created abject poverty and great suffering for most of the country while his small ruling elite and foreign investors made millions.

It was into that world that Chico Cano was born. The events resulting from the Diaz dictatorship and the revolution it caused shaped his life and the lives of thousands of others along the U.S./Mexico border defined by the Rio Grande.

Bandido is a must read for students and aficionados of Big Bend history.

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Having posted my review of the new Casas book I invite open discussion of the work here on the blog. I did not see the manuscript and based my analysis of the book after it went to press. A recent review of the manuscript by Jim Glendinning says that Casas overstates racial prejudice in South Brewster County and that some of the "stated facts are just plain wrong". Do begin this discussion I pose the following two questions. Do you feel Casas or any other writers have overstated racism in the Texas Big Bend? Also, what in the book do any of you consider to be not to be factual?

If anyone has any difficulty posting comments on the blog please email me. Also, the book is available and in stock at Front Street Books in Alpine and Marathon. Telephone 800-597-3360. Let the discussion begin!


Friday, August 22, 2008, 08:41 AM

The Casas book can only be classified as a novel, complete with descriptions of its characters' mannerisms, emotions, and dialog. Had a New York publisher taken it on, I'm certain they would have put "hisstorical fiction" on the spine and published it as a mass market paperback -- but they didn't take it on.

A few family letters are offered as "historical documentation." And the only thing that might be considered factual is the use of real people's names. The author confesses to fictionalizing the Jorge Villalba trial [p.301]. And [p.XI] he tells us he "recreated" events as they might have happened from his family's perspective. But, even the author has to admit he injects his own biased "perspective." For instance[p.219]: The author -- in his own voice -- describes the prosecution witnesses as "lying sonsofabitches" and hostile -- and this without the benefit of a trial transcript which he tells us no longer exists [p.301].

Another instance[p.151]: In a fictinal setting -- again, complete with mannerisms, emotions, and dialog [and even snifters of Cardinal Mendoza brandy (!) which defense attorney Mead fusses over so eloquently]-- Frederico Villalba asks Mead, "How hard could it be to prove self-defense?"

" 'If it was the other way around and your boys were Anglo and the deceased were Mexican...not too hard," Mead said with a shrug of the shoulders." [Rimply read the inference behind the words the author has put into the mouth of the character Mead. To be fair, the author might have contacted Mead's descendants and got their take on what he might or could have said and felt. They might even tell us Mead didn't like Cardinal Mendoza brandy.] But this was obviously not meant to be an objective story with two sides.

There are other examples...

For the sake of argument, let me play on the author's own previous comment, and call it "anecdotal fiction." If that is accepted, then some might consider it a "good read." But don't call it fact-based "history" because it is not.

Felton Cochran

Thursday, August 21, 2008, 11:34 AM

I know that Mr. Ruan is a student of the Big Bend. Although I have never met him, I have learned to respect him and his knowledge by way of his friend and colleague, Mr. Glenn Willeford. His pointing out that I used the term "Villa interloper" is a bit pickyuny. Villa and his men were, by then, notorious cattle rustlers along the border. His activities, though not yet politically motivated, were very well-known and highly unappreciated by my great-grandfather and others. If the reader will recall, my great-grandfather called Villa the "accidental hero". Per my great-grandfather's assessment, Villa was a criminal who, by fortuitous circumstances, transformed himself into a "man of the people". In deference to Mr. Ruan, perhaps I should have called the cattle rustlers just that. Now, had I used the term Villista, Mr. Ruan would certainly have had a bigger bone to chew on.

As for the comment that the "racial issue is overblown". I submit to the reader that the racial climate is unfortunately, well-portrayed by events that took place in that era, and not by my invention. I did not concoct Porvenir, the transgressions of the Texas Rangers and the Army, the trial of my great-uncle Jorge for murder when it was clearly self-defense, or the murder of my great-uncle Jacobo.

To Mr. Ruan, I feel privileged that you chose to read my work. Aside from your points of disagreement, I hope that you enjoyed meeting the Villalbas. And, by the way, my book is an anecdotal history, not a novel.

Juan Manuel Casas

Wednesday, August 20, 2008, 11:08 AM

In my opinion Casas' book reads well as a family history or as a novel. Unfortunately, I think that anyone who is familiar with the history of the Big Bend and the Mexican Revolution would have some problems with factual statements.

Case in point: on page 17..."In 1909, Federico was approached by tghe sheriff who encouraged him to accept a commission. [as a Texas Ranger]Federico did so for one big reason. He didn't much care for Pancho Villa. It offered the American government's protection if he or any of his vaqueros killed an interloping Villa sympathizer." In 1909 Villa was not even a minor player in Mexican politics and history. Probably nobody in the United States had even heard of him. What was the possibility that "an interloping Villa sympathizer" would appear in the Big Bend and need to be killed.

I would agree wholeheartedly with Glendenning that the racial predjudice issue is overblown.

There are a number of other obvious historical errors.

Well written, interesting novel.

Gerald Raun

Monday, August 18, 2008, 10:19 PM

GJ, I'm surprised! There was so much YAH! YAH! about Mr. Casas book before it hit the shelves, and now, it seems, nobody wants to argue with him. Could it be that Casas turned out a better product than the naysayers expected>

Glenn Willeford

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Iron Mountain Press has just published an attention-grabbing new book titled Federico Villalba's Texas: A Mexican Pioneer's Life in the Big Bend by Juan Manual Casas. Casas begins his absorbing account of the Villalba family with the arrival in present Mexico of a Spanish ancestor, Lt. General Juan de Villaba in 1767. Appointed by King Carlos III, General Villalba inspected northern Chihuahua and reported to the King his recommendations of how the new frontier might best be defended. Later the General settled in the Spanish Province of Nueva Vizcaya at San Geronimo putting down roots for later generations of the Villalba family. Casas proudly recounts the fact that his family has noble Spanish blood and by the time his great-grandfather was born in 1858 had become prosperous landowners and merchants at Aldama north of Chihuahua City.

In 1882, twenty-four year old Federico Villalba left his parents home to take up ranching initially at San Carlos, Chihuahua before moving north into the Texas Big Bend. Villalba's Rancho Barras located near Burro Mesa did well with his cattle herds growing to over 2,000 head in a few years. His Rancho Barras brand became well known. Villaba also owned property west of the Chisos Mountains where quicksilver was discovered in 1899. In addition to his ranching and quicksilver operation Federico engaged in the manufacture of saddles and leather goods and opened a small store that stocked necessary supplies. By the time Villalba reached thirty years of age and married, Federico had established three successful business operations. His family grew to include three sons and three daughters. Early in the 1900's, Villalba entered into a quicksilver mining partnership and opened a general merchandise store at Study Butte.

In 1907, a financial downturn signaled troubled times ahead for the Villalbas. Then after surviving the dangerous years of the Mexican Revolution in the Big Bend, tragedy struck the family. The Villalba boys loved to play cards and gamble and Jacabo took up bootleg liquor smuggling. Following a poker game that went bad, Jacabo shot and killed two men that resulted the murder trial of his brother Jorge. The case went to trial in the Brewster County Courthouse in February 1924 and ended with Jorge being found not guilty. But the verdict proved to be bittersweet because Federico lost Rancho Barras to pay legal expenses. In 1931, Jacabo lost his life after being shot while trying to collect a debt. Federico never got over the death of his son and died two years later bringing an end to the Villalba's time in the Big Bend.

"Federico Villalba's Texas" is an outstanding and well-told family story. It is an excellent read, one that Big Bend enthusiasts will greatly enjoy and want to have on their bookshelves. Casas has done a fine job of presenting the Mexican perspective in the frontier times of the Texas Big Bend. Although the author should have offered more detailed documentation, the research given appears to be sound for the most part. It is a story that simply needed to be told and begs discussion.


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Some still think of H. L. (Hod) Roberson as an exemplary Texas Ranger who met his death while quietly sitting in a chair in 1923. Even today, the Officer Down Memorial Page remembers Roberson as a law enforcement hero with no mention of his dubious past.

See: ... e-lorenzo-(hod)-roberson

But there is more to his story. "Hod" Roberson lived by the gun and died by the gun. He should be more accurately described as a cold-blooded killer whose gun was for hire. Between 1911 and 1923 H. L. Roberson killed more than a few men in Texas and in Mexico. One probably inflated story claims he killed 38 men in his lifetime. Robertson first put on a Texas Ranger badge in 1911 at the age of 38 years when he joined Captain John Hughes" Ranger Company A in El Paso. Within months, the new ranger shot and killed a drunk Mexican at Calaro a village east of El Paso. Following the incident, Roberson spent some time exiled to the Texas Panhandle. Captain Hughes liked Robertson, however and appointed him to sergeant of A Company in 1913. In 1914, Roberson and Ranger Ira Cline tried to serve a search warrant on Carlos Morales Wood, editor of a Spanish language newspaper in Valentine. Although the Rangers shot Wood dead in very suspicious circumstances they were acquitted in a murder trial the claiming the editor had pulled a pistol on them.

Roberson resigned from the Rangers in 1914 and became the foreman of the infamous T.O. Ranch of Chihuahua. As foreman he led some dozen or so gun men that ran roughshod over the huge border ranch. The T.O. men controlled controlled a fair amount of the border north of Candelaria to El Paso on the Mexican side terrorizing anyone who got in their way. Pancho Villa and his agents did considerable business with the T.O. Ranch bringing many herds of stolen cattle and horses to the ranch to be brokered into Texas. About 1914, some said General Villa personally ran Hod Roberson and his men out of Mexico outside Ojinaga. Another account states that the Roberson gang were arrested and deported by Mexican soldiers for branding stolen Terrazas cattle. A short time later, Roberson and some twenty of his men shot and killed Febronio Calanche and Rodrogo Barragan as they slept on the Texas riverbank at the Los Fresnos Crossing north of Candelaria. Justice of the Peace J.J. Kilpatrick wrote of the incident, "I have always felt sure it was either Roberson who shot to death Barragan and Calanche or ordered it done".

Nothing came of the killings but in 1915, Roberson found himself on trial for more murders in El Paso. Details of the fatal shooting of Henry Foote Boykin and Walter Sitters are in my previous blog article. Here I offer some information about the Roberson murder trial.

Many Hudsbeth County ranchers did not like Hod Roberson. It is likely they did not appreciate the fact that he and the T.O. Ranch illegally brought thousands of cattle stolen in Mexico to Sierra Blanca to sell at very cheap prices. The T.O. Ranch engaged in very lucrative arms for cattle trade during the Mexican Revolution. At one point after U.S. President Woodrow Wilson imposed an arms embargo on Pancho Villa, stolen Mexican cattle brought only $5 a head in exchange for rifle and pistol cartridges priced at $1 per round. Honest Texas ranchers simply could not compete with these prices.

Following the Boykin and Sitters murders, Roberson was charged with murder and surrendered to some of his Texas Ranger friends in El Paso. He posted a $7,500 bond and entered a plea of self-defense. The sensational trial made front-page news in the El Paso newspapers as some of the finest legal minds in Texas met head to head in the district court room. On December 4, 1915, the jury found Roberson guilty of murder and he received a 20-year prison sentence. His attorneys quickly moved for a mistrial after one of the jurors admitted being a convicted felon.

Two weeks later, Judge Dan M. Jackson set aside this verdict and granted a new trial. In November 1916 another jury found Roberson guilty of manslaughter and gave him another five-year sentence. Again his lawyers moved for a new trial. When the judge denied the motion, Roberson's attorneys appealed the case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin that upheld the verdict. Six months later, the court reversed itself for unclear reasons and sent the case back to Hudspeth County for trial. In a change of venue, the case went back to the El Paso District Court in November 1919 where another jury convicted Roberson of manslaughter with a two year sentence. Roberson's lawyers moved for another trial and a change of venue. Finally in June 1920 a Travis County court let the gunman off the hook with an acquittal.

The curious part of all this is the fact that even during the midst of his considerable legal troubles, Hod Roberson retained various commissions as a Texas and Federal lawman. From 1916 until he was killed in 1923 he worked as a law officer as an inspector for the Texas Cattle Raisers Association while also holding an appointment as a Special Texas Ranger, Midland County Deputy and Deputy U.S. Marshall. Many Texas lawmen, including Texas Ranger Captain John Hughes, helped Robinson with money for his defense and posting his bonds. Looking back, this certainly does not speak well about the integrity of Texas lawmen of those days.

In April 1923, Hod Roberson and fellow brand inspector Dave Allison were sitting on the porch of the Gaines Hotel in Seminole, Texas. They were in town to testify at the trial of two rustlers. The evening before the trial, the rustlers attacked Roberson and Allison on the porch and killed both of them in a wild series of pistol shots and shotgun blasts. When she heard the shots, Robinson's wife ran downstairs from her room in the hotel and shot both of her husband's attackers with his small automatic back up pistol. Although wounded both rustlers escaped after bringing an end to the career of a gunman with a Texas Ranger badge.


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Hi Glenn,

While researching the burial location of my great-grandfather, Henry Foote Boykin, I came across your website listing his obituary in 1915. Since my grandfather, Henry Foote Boykin, Jr., was only three years old when his father was killed, he never could tell me a lot about his father. I wondered if you had any more information about H.F. Boykin that you could share with me. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you,
Tammy Labhart

Tammy, you are in luck as I have found a fair amount of information about the murder of your great grandfather, H. F. Boykin. H. F. Boykin was born May 3, 1875 and met a tragic death at the age of 40 years on January 16, 1915 in Sierra Blanca Texas. He and Walter Sitters, son of Texas Ranger Joe Sitters, were gunned down by Horace Lorenzo (Hod) Roberson, a Texas Ranger with a considerable reputation for the killing of many men. For more about Robertson be sure to search the blog archive for several articles including, "A Cold Blooded Killer With A Texas Ranger Badge". I am working a chapter in my new book, "More Little Known History Of The Texas Big Bend" about Roberson. Below you will find some 1915 newspaper articles about the murders of Boykin and Sitters. Also, there is more information about Roberson's murder trial in the El Paso Times/Herald. You can find copies of the newspaper microfilm files of the El Paso Public Library. Also, UTPB in Odessa has the Times on microfilm. Be sure to check out the excellent EPT index and vertical files at the El Paso library. Good luck with your research. If you have any family photos of your great grandfather, I would greatly appreciate a good copy to use in my new book.


Sierra Blanca, Texas, Jan. 16-17, 1915--H.F. Boykin, a prominent citizen of this place, was shot to death in the Texas & Pacific stock pens early this morning by H.L. Roberson, one of the foremen of the T.O. Ranch, in Mexico.

Roberson, also shot and seriously wounded Walter Sitters, of Valentine. It seems that Roberson had some cattle in the pens, which were placed in Mr. Boykin's pasture, north of this place, and Mr. Boykin insisted upon counting them before before taking them out. A quarrel insued, with the above results.

It is said that Boykin and Sitters were unarmed.

Roberson immediately left town.

Mr. Boykin leaves a wife and five small children, a brother and a host of friends here, and three sisters in El Paso. The names of Boykin's sisters are Miss Florence Boykin, at the Central telephone office, Mrs. T.C. Armstrong, and Mrs. B. Taylor.

JANUARY 16-17, 1915


The hearing of H. L. Roberson on the charge of killing "Foot" Boykin and Walter Sitters at Sierra Blanca, this county, last Saturday, is in progress in the court of Justice of the Peace J. J. Murphy. Testimony was taken Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning and the hearing was then adjourned to the afternoon to await the arrival of more witnesses.

When the hearing was resumed at 10 o'clock Tuesday morning, the testimony of James Burns and William Bartzer, the two young men who were "beating their way" to San Antonio and saw the tragedy, was heard.

Burns stated that the men were quarreling when he and his friend got off the train. They went over to the stock pens, he stated, to see if they could get a job. When they came up, they saw Boykin on the fence, pointing his finger at Roberson. Roberson struck his hand with a rope, and when Boykin grabbed the rope, Roberson struck the hand with his pistol, he said, and then Boykin threw the rope into the lot. Roberson then rode around to the gate. In the meantime Boykin threw the rope over the fence. Roberson asked him to give him the rope, and Boykin refused, but another man climbed over and handed it to him.

Burns testified that he heard Boykin say: "Nobody but a ___ ___ ___ ___ or a coward would pull a gun".


He further testified that when Roberson came around the gate, Boykin came at Roberson and he started for him a second time before Roberson fired the first shot. He, Boykin, had something in his left hand-he did not know if it was a knife. Five shots were fired by Roberson, the last one as Boykin was falling.

To the state's counsel he stated that he could not remember what Robertson had called Boykin. Words were passed between them but in the excitement he did not catch all that was said. State's counsel reminded him that his memory had been pretty clear concerning the testimony he had given the counsel for the defendant.

Burns stated that he told the same story to the justice of the peace at Sierra Blanca and that at 2 p.m. on the same day had been told that he and his partner could go their way.

The testimony of William Bartzer was similar to that told by Burns. He declared he did not know whether Boykin had a knife.

The state was represented in the case, by Frank Fulle, assistant county attorney, and by R. E. Thomason, special counsel. The defendant was represented by Victor C. Moore.


Thomas Cross, of Sierra Blanca, a witness to the tragedy, was the first witness. He stated that he and "Foot" Boykin and others went to the stock pens about 6 a.m. Saturday, January 16, to load some steers. While thus engaged some of the animals got mixed up with others in the pen and they were engaged in counting the animals when H. L. Roberson drove up.

When Roberson, rode up he called out, "What in the hell are you doing here? He told Boykin to get out, he testified, "Boykin told him he wouldn't and then Roberson and then Roberson said, "You ___ ___ ___ ___ you will get out." Boykin called him the same name and told him he wouldn't get out." Boykin climbed up on the fence and Roberson then struck him with a rope. Then he pulled out his pistol and struck Boykin on the hand." The he asked for his rope and I handed it to him. Roberson rode around and into the corral and shot Boykin four times. Then he rode away."

Cross admitted to counsel for the defense that Boykin had a knife in his hand before Roberson hit him with the rope. He also admitted that he did not feel friendly towards the defendant.


Elmer Norton, aged 14 years, another witness to the shooting, stated that when he came up, Roberson was telling Boykin to take back what he called him and Boykin refused. He stated that he saw Roberson hit Boykin with a rope and saw the latter pull the rope from his hand. He stated that he saw Roberson hit Boykin on the hand with his pistol, and then he saw Boykin step back into the corral. Roberson, he stated, rode around and came through the gate into the corral. Boykin moved towards him. Roberson's animal wheeled around and Roberson fired over his shoulder, he declared, the shot hitting Walter Sitters. Then he fired four more shots at Boykin, he stated, the last one being fired after Boykin hit the ground.

He admitted to counsel for the defense that there was considerable bad feeling in Sierra Blanca against Roberson. He also admitted that some indirect efforts had been made to influence his testimony. He stated that his father told him to tell the truth.


To the attorney for the state he stated that Boykin had told Roberson he was unarmed. When Roberson fired the second shot Boykin kept moving from side to side as though attempting to dodge further shots, he declared.

William Norton, aged 17, a brother of Elmer Norton, corroborated his brother's testimony in its essential details. He was questioned concerning the feeling in Sierra Blanca against, "the T.O. people." Asked by the defendant's counsel if he had not been urged not to tell some things about the tragedy, he stated that two or three men had asked when the case was coming up. Later, he admitted that he had told them he was going to tell the truth.


"I, Norton, father of the two Norton boys, was the last witness examined during the afternoon. He was examined by the counsel for the defendant as to the feeling in Sierra Blanca and the "T.O. People". He stated that there was considerable feeling against them.

"Is it not a fact, Mr. Norton, that when I attempted to ask you earlier in the day about the affair in Sierra Blanca, you said you did not have time to talk to me?" asked attorney Victor Moore.

"Yes, I was summoned to the grand jury and testified."

Norton's testimony concerning the tragedy, which he witnessed, was similar to that of the witnesses who had d him. Concerning the knife, which Boykin is alleged to have held in his hand, the witness stated that it was a pocket knife with a blade perhaps two and five-eighths inches in length. He stated he had assisted in removing the clothes from the body of he dead man and said that the man was shot once in the back, once in the left side, once in the arm and once in the chest just below the neck.


Judge J.J. Murphy announced Tuesday afternoon, following the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, the he would hold Roberson on a bond of $5,000 on the charge of having shot Boykin and $2,500 on the charge of having shot Sitters.
It is probable that Roberson will give the combined bonds of $7,500 pending the grand jury hearing and will be released.

JANUARY 19, 1915

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Check out the future of Texas history at the Texas State Historical Association on line portal:


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There are more and more excellent Texas history sites on line. I will be posting some of the best as I locate them. Note: These videos may require a high speed connection. If they won't load, sorry. Take a minute and look at University of North Texas fine site at:


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Here is an article about the Candelaria bridge by Ross McSwain published in the San Angelo Standard-Times: ... -a-memory/


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