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ONE DAY IN HISTORY: Francisco (Pancho) Villa

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Portrait of Doroteo Arango Arámbula, better known as Francisco or “Pancho” Villa. National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress. Image in the Public Domain.
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Texas Border Business

FRANCISCO [PANCHO] VILLA (1877–1923). Francisco (Pancho) Villa, Mexican revolutionary, whose real name was Doroteo Arango, was born in Rio Grande, Durango, Mexico, on October 4, 1877. After becoming a cattle rustler, he took the name of a notorious bandit. In 1910 he joined the Francisco I. Madero revolution against the Porfirio Díaz government and visited Texas first in May 1911, when John Hart of El Paso invited him to a banquet for Madero sympathizers.

Later in the same month Villa was Hart’s guest at Cloudcroft, New Mexico. In January 1913 Villa, who had been imprisoned in Mexico City by Victoriano Huerta, escaped and made his way to El Paso, where, using his real name, he plotted against Huerta and recruited followers.

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By March 1913 Villa had left Texas to campaign successfully against the Huertistas in Chihuahua. Villa was popular in El Paso probably because of the quantities of supplies he bought from El Paso merchants; in the summer of 1913 he brought his wife and son to the city to secure them from the unsettled conditions in Mexico.

After the United States recognized the Carranza government in Mexico, Villa turned against the Americans, and El Paso began to fear an attack from him such as he made on Columbus, New Mexico, in March 1916. A punitive force ordered by President Woodrow Wilson to capture Villa was unsuccessful.

Mexican federalists bought Villa’s retirement by giving him an estate in 1920. He was killed on July 20, 1923.

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Biography by Fritz L. Hoffmann, Handbook of Texas Online

Published by the Texas State Historical Association

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