The Porvenir Massacre
Digital History ID 3695
On Saturday, Jan. 16, 1918, the State Rangers visited the small village of Porvenir in Presidio County and arrested the men folks and boys there, standing them up in a row before day in the bitter cold January morning ad searching them for arms; they also roughly and unceremoniously entered the houses, turning over beds, and forcibly looking into trunks and boxes searching for arms. They found only two arms in this peaceful hard-working village of one hundred and forty souls; only a pistol belonging to John Baily, the only white man living at Porvenir, which John kept in his house hanging over his cot and the other was a Winchester of a special make belonging to Rosendo Mesa….Both arms were taken and neither ever returned…. Some time in the night [of January 28, 1918] the Rangers again made their appearance at Porvenir accompanied by four ranchmen…and twelve U.S. soldiers….
Capt. Anderson threw a cordon of U.S. soldiers around the houses while the Rangers went in and took the men and boys out of their warm beds, they making no resistance whatever.
Having the men and boys in their possession, the Rangers started off down the road, the soldiers accompanying them a part of the way to where the soldiers’ trail left the main road leading back up to Camp Evetts. 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 don, (the moon was shining nearly as bright as day), cursed them, and told them “what a nice piece of work you have done tonight.
The killed were fifteen….
All the bodies were found lying together, side by side….
The Rangers and four cow-men made 42 orphans that night.
Source: Henry Warren, “The Porvenir Massacre in Presidio County, Texas, on January 28, 1918,” Henry Warren Collection, Box 4, folder 88, Archives of the Big Bend, Sul Ross State University.
Copyright 2021 Digital History