LATINOPIA EVENT PROFILE
THE PORVENIR MASSACRE
One of the most horrendous of extra-judicial killings took place on January 28, 1918 in the outskirts of the village of Porvenir, Texas, located in Presidio County. On that day a party of ten Texas Rangers under the command of Captain J. M. Fox, along with eight members of the U.S. Army Calvary under the command of Captain Anderson, Troop G, 8th Calvary from Camp Evetts, and four Anglo-American ranchers descended on the village of Porvenir. According to the eye-witness account of Henry Warren, an Anglo school teacher, the Calvary surrounded the village houses, allowing the Rangers and ranch hands to go into the homes and pull out a group of fifteen Mexican men and boys. The Calvary troops accompanied the Ranchers and ranch hands for a distance and the headed back to their home base of Camp Evetts. Shortly after the Calvary departed, a barrage of shots were heard.
In the words of Henry Warren, “After the soldiers left them, it was only a few minutes before the latter heard a fusillade of shots. One of the soldiers rode back and seeing what the Rangers had done, (the moon was shining nearly as bright as day) cursed them, and told them “what a nice piece of work you have done to night.”
Later in the morning Warren found the bodies of fifteen men, two of whom were under sixteen years of age. “All the bodies were found lying together, side by side. Some were partly lying upon others about a hundred yards from the road by a little rock bluff. I saw the bodies on the early morning of January 29.”
Warren identified the men as Macedonio Huertas, Albert García, Ambrosio Hernández, Severiano Herera, Zarapio Jiménez, Pedro Jiménez, Antonio Castamudo, Román Nieves, Viviano Herrera, Longino Flores, Pedro Guerra, Juan Jiménez, Manuel Morales, Tiburcio Jáquez and Eutimio Gonzales.
The relatives of the dead men carried their bodies across the Rio Grande and buried them in a mass grave on the Mexican side of the border. Fearing for their lives, the surviving mothers and daughters then left Porvenir and resettled across the border to Pilares, Chihuahua. Later U.S. Army soldiers returned and razed the uninhabited village effectively erasing evidence of the deeds.
After news of the event reached the main headquarters of the Texas Rangers in Austin, an investigation was conducted. A grand jury found all the Texas Rangers not guilty of crimes, but five were later dismissed b then Texas Governor William P. Hobby. Captain Fox was reassigned and Company B of the Texas Rangers was disbanded.
In 2018, descendants of the victims of the massacre reunited to remember their relatives on the 100th anniversary of the massacre. A documentary about the Porvenir Massacre directed by Andrew Shapter will be broadcast on PBS in 2019.
Copyright 2019 by Barrio Dog Productions,Inc. Quotations from the eye-witness account of Henry Warren appear in Testimonio, A documentary History of the Mexican American Struggle for Civil Rights by F. Arturo Rosales ( Arte Público Press, 2000) and appears here by special permission by the publisher, Arte Público Press.