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 Pancho Villa

Pancho Villa

Birth
San Juan del Rio, San Juan del Río Municipality, Durango, Mexico
Death 20 Jul 1923 (aged 45)
Hidalgo del Parral, Hidalgo del Parral Municipality, Chihuahua, Mexico
Burial Mexico City, Cuauhtémoc Borough, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Memorial ID 11754343 · View Source
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Mexican Revolutionary, General, Bandit, and Governor. He was a major leader in the Mexican Revolution and in 1916-1917, was the object of the Punitive Expedition in which US Troops crossed into Mexico in a futile attempt to capture him. Born Jose Doroteo Orango Arámbula, he is better known under his revolutionary name, Francisco "Pancho" Villa. Many details of his life are in dispute. Villa's early life is mostly unknown. In 1894, when he was 16, he shot and killed the son of a wealthy landowner who had tried to rape his younger sister, Martina. Being pursued for murder, he escaped into the hills and initially lived as an outlaw. Between this period and the next fifteen years, his life is virtually unknown, except that he eventually became a revolutionary military leader. He first reappeared about 1910, joining the ranks of the Madero movement to overthrow Dictator Porfirio Diaz. His attack and capture of Ciudad Juarez overthrew the Diaz regime and led to Francisco Madero's presidency. In 1911, when General Pascual Orozco started a military rebellion against the new President Madero, Villa gathered a "Division of the North" to fight under General Victoriano Huerta, in support of President Madero. Huerta viewed Villa as an ambitious rival; when some of Villa's men captured a horse and Villa decided to keep it for himself, Huerta ordered Villa's execution for horse stealing and insubordination. Just before his execution, Madero commuted the sentence to life in prison, and shortly afterwards, Villa escaped from the Mexico City jail. Following the crushing of the Orozco Rebellion in 1913, General Huerta decided he wanted to become dictator of Mexico, and had President Madero assassinated, appointing himself as the new President. Politician Venustiano Carranza, citing the Mexican constitution, declared General Huerta a usurper. Gathering other politicians and generals to form a Constitutional Army of Mexico to overthrow Huerta, Carranza appointed Villa a general in the new Constitutional Army and Governor of the northern state of Chihuahua, which bordered the United States. As Chihuahua's Governor, Villa was extremely popular with the people, and he continued to support Carranza's Constitutional Army with funds and supplies purchased from the US. US President Woodrow Wilson provided support to Carranza, recognizing him as the head of the Mexican government, but it was Villa's leadership, popular appeal to the Mexicans, and his ability to recruit excellent subordinates that enabled Carranza to form a real army to oppose the Federal Army of Huerta (commonly called Federales). In June 1914, Villa attacked the strategic and heavily guarded mining city of Zacatecas, source of much of Mexico's silver; its loss caused Huerta to leave for exile in Spain in July 1914. Carranza became President of Mexico immediately, mostly due to Villa's military exploits. Initially, the successful revolutionaries fought among themselves, and Carranza's supporters battled Villa and Emiliano Zapata for power. President Wilson threw American support to Carranza, and halted supplies of weapons and money to Villa. Although he was popular among the people in the US, Villa retaliated by raiding and robbing the wealthy ranchers, including American ranchers in Mexico, and robbing trains to further his cause. When Villistas robbed a train on the Mexican North Western Railroad, coldly murdering 18 American passengers on the train, he became only a common bandit in the eyes of the Americans press. In March 1916, Villa forces raided Columbus, New Mexico, robbing its bank, and killing several American citizens. For President Wilson, this was the last straw, and he ordered General John J. Pershing to form a Punitive Expedition to pursue Villa in Mexico, to bring him to American justice. Pershing's Punitive Expedition, while unsuccessful in capturing Villa, caused great resentment among Mexicans, and was withdrawn in 1917 with the American entry into World War I. After the Punitive Expedition was withdrawn, Villa remained in hiding from Carranza, whose forces occupied the northern cities of Chihuahua during the American Intervention. In 1920, Adolfo de la Huerto became president, and Villa negotiated peace with him, retiring to a hacienda in El Canutillo. He was assassinated three years later in Parral, Chihuahua, although his assassins were never arrested; Villa had made many enemies over his lifetime, who would have motive to kill him. He is remembered today as a combination folk hero and revolutionary. The location of Villa's remains is in dispute. In 1926, grave robbers reportedly decapitated the corpse, and his skull supposedly rests in the Skull and Bones Tomb in New Haven, Connecticut. Still others maintain that his body rests in the city cemetery of Parral, Chihuahua, where it was initially laid to rest, and others maintain that it was removed to the Revolutionary Monument in Mexico City when it was built in 1972. Tombstones for Villa are in both places.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Steven Baldwin
  • Added: 15 Sep 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 11754343
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Pancho Villa (5 Jun 1878–20 Jul 1923), Find A Grave Memorial no. 11754343, citing Monument of the Revolution, Mexico City, Cuauhtémoc Borough, Distrito Federal, Mexico ; Maintained by Find A Grave .