Click Here

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Hi Glenn,

What information can you give me about Dias y Ocho Army camp?
All I have is one paragraph from the Electric Coop article. Also the church on the Rio Grande. North of Porvenir.
Octaviano's place.

James Lopez


Also known as Camp Evetts the Dias y Ocho U.S. Army was located at Soldier's Springs not far from Porvenir. The camp was constructed from abandoned railroad ties salvaged from from the Rio Grande Northern Railroad that ran from Chispa to the coal mine near San Carlos. In 1918, Camp Evetts was home to Troop G of the Eighth Cavalry. In February of that year, a group of Texas Rangers and vigilantes came to Camp Evetts on their way to Porvenir where they massacred 15 men and boys before putting the village to the torch. By the fall of 1919, most of the upper Big Bend border cavalry outposts had been abandoned by the U.S. military. Although I know of the church or Octaviano's Place, don't know a lot about it. It lies at the crossing to Pilares. Pilares is shown on some old map's as a Spanish prison camp in the 1700's. Also, there was supposedly a gold mine located in the moutains outside Pilares about that time. Pilares Mexico is often confused with Pilares or Porvenir, Texas. The Handbook of Texas article confuses the two places. Part of the confusion comes from the fact that following the Porvenir massacre, the postmaster fled across the river to Mexico taking with him the Porvenir post mark stamp. For years after that, letters bearing Porvenir, Texas were actually postmarked in Pilares, Mexico. Gj

[ view entry ] ( 4396 views )   |  permalink  |  $star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image ( 2.9 / 336125 )

My name is McKenna Apodaca and I am the Great Great Grand Daughter of Ranger Joe Sitters. I am nine years old, and I have just finished reading a chapter about Joe Sitters in Mike Cox's book about Texas Rangers. My father and I decided to search my GG Grandfathers name and your site came up and to our surprise we saw his picture. Thank you for having it up there, and can you tell me where you found this great photo? I would like to get a copy myself. Thank you and take care.


McKenna Apodaca

The photo of your grandfather was made sometime before 1913 on the steps of the Presidio County Courthouse in Marfa. It is the photo, third from the left at the top of my blog. Texas Ranger Joe Sitters is shown at the left of the photo with Jack Howard next, an unknown man and at the right, U. S. Customs inspector Luke Dowe. I got a copy of the photo from Marian Walker of Candelaria. Marian was Jack Howard's daughter who along with her sister, Nell Howard owned and operated the Candelaria store for many years. In 1913, Sitters and Howard were ambushed near Porvenir, Texas. Jack Howard died from his wounds and your grandfather, Joe Sitters was shot in the head. He survived but was killed in another ambush on the Mexican border in 1915. My apologies for taking so long on this, I misplaced your email and only now found it. If you will email your mailing address, I will make you a high quality copy your grandfather's picture and mail it to you. I am presently working on a chapter about Joe Sitters for my new book. Gj

[ view entry ] ( 6091 views )   |  permalink  |  $star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image ( 3.1 / 272799 )
Hello Mr. Justice,

Saw your website and decided to send you an email.

It's possible we have crossed paths at the West Texas Historical Assoc. meetings?

Like yourself, I am also very interested in West Texas history.
Currently I am serving on the Board of Directors for WTHA, and teach US History part-time at Dallas Baptist University. At this years WTHA, 2007 meeting (Abilene) I planned to attend your session, however, I also had a paper to present during the same hour.

I have done quite a bit of research over the years in Jack/Young/ and Palo Pinto Counties, where my family settled during the frontier period. For some time I have wanted to publish my research. I have considered submitting my work to a regional University press, however I think the flexibility of self-publishing might be a better route.

I noticed you have published several books, (I have a copy of your
Revolution on the Rio Grande). If you don't mind I have a few publishing questions for you.

I noticed you operate under the name of RimRock Press, a label that
promotes your work. I assume you contract the printing of your books independently and under the label of RimRock control the marketing and distribution?

The reason I ask I have observed your site as a close model of what I would like to launch to promote my own research. I have secured the domain name of BRAZOSBOOKS.COM, which I plan to use as the main website to promote my work. I plan to find a source, which will print the books with my "Brazos Books" name, and I will then assume all marketing, sales, and management. I have heard is a possible source to accomplish this? So is this the arrangement you also use?

Any advice would be appreciated. I really like your website, you have obviously spent quite a bit of time creating it.

Best Regards,

Wes J. Sheffield

Rimrock Press is my publishing company that I use to produce and market my books. I chose this approach some years ago after becoming frustrated with the attitudes and policies of commercial and university presses. I have used both and not had a positive experience with either. Generally commercial presses are simply not interested in publishing regional histories. And while University presses do publish most of our history books, they frequently have their own agendas and tend to only go to press with works done by writers associated with the university. No matter how fine your work, it's not what you know but rather who you know in these circles. Another problem is the fact that these publishers want your work and your copyright but don't want to pay for it. The same applies to historical associations who publish in their journals. After spending years researching and writing my books I feel my time is worth something more than the usual $1 per copy sold by these outfits.

Having said this, the world of self-publishing is not something most people will want to undertake. For one thing, there is absolutely no money to be made publishing history books. You will have to spend your money going to press and it will take years for you to see any return on your investment. There are numerous book manufactures who offer publishing services but few have much interest in doing regional histories. I use Bookmasters and have been well satisfied with their services. See

Finally, once you have managed to produce a press ready book, you will be responsible for the marketing of your book and the world of book distributing is a snake pit. None of the big book stores such as Barnes and Noble or Borders or any of the others will buy books directly from the publishers. You must go through one of their "approved" distributors. These distributors are a very tight knit group and will do their best to squeeze you out of business before you even start. They will not take you books without heavy discounts and not even consider a publisher with only a few book offerings. Bookmasters will market your books for a monthly fee. The only market you will find for your history books, other than single copy internet sales, are local book stores who many times will only take your books on consignment and then not pay you. In short, if you want to make money writing books probably the best advice I can give is write trashy romance novels, not history books. Gj

[ view entry ] ( 12984 views )   |  permalink  |  $star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image ( 3 / 378077 )
In going over my father's library we found a stack of post-cards stuffed in a small binder. They were postcards of scenes of the conflict with Villa at Columbus and other locations. The cards are in fair condition. Not great, and show some gristly scenes as well
as scenes of troop trains etc.

Is there any interest in these postcards? It is very possible that
they are just a set of cards which were distributed widely and not very unique.

I can send scans of several if that would be of interest.

David Sims

Today these postcards of the Mexican revolution are a little known but collectable glimpse into the horrors of that bloody civil war. While their monetary value has increased only slightly in the last few years, collectors do seek them out. During the years when they were produced and mainly marketed to U.S. soldiers stationed on the Mexican border, many thousands were sent home to families of these border guardians. Curiously the postcards seem to be more common in the states away from the border. You can find these postcards for sale on ebay but beware of overpricing and fakes. To learn more about these postcards I suggest you read Border Fury: A Picture Postcard Record of Mexico's Revolution and U.S. War Preparedness, 1919-1917 by Paul J. Vanderwood and Frank N. Samponaro published by University of New Mexico Press. Gj

[ view entry ] ( 5452 views )   |  permalink  |  $star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image ( 3 / 406236 )
Mr. Fain, as Glenn Justice reminds us, more needs to be done on the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918 in the Big Bend region of Texas. At present, Dr. Paul Wright at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, may be the best resource for obtaining new information. Wright's research into birth and death records in the Big Bend region, taken largely from U. S. Manuscript Census data, reveals much.

As co-author of the recent (2006) book, Cemeteries and Funerary Practices in the Big Bend of Texas, 1850 to the Present, I admit that there is no "definitive work" on the subject, nor is there likely ever to be one; nonetheless, I believe mine and Dr. Gerald G. Raun's book comes a closer than anything to date.

While preparing to draft the text of Cemeteries I advertised in area newspapers for information as well as for people to come forward with information. A few did, but not so many as we would have liked; accordingly nothing was learned about Ben and Viola Pettus; other members of the Pettus family were not only mentioned but their deaths recorded, graves photographed and so forth. Additionally, I interviewed individuals in Marathon about the flu epidemic and other matters and the Ben Pettus's were never mentioned. I suspect those few months in the autumn of 1918 were such a horrid period in life that once it passed, most folk didn't wish to talk about it, or even to remember; after all, families were giving up their dead to passing wagoners for mass burial without funerary honors being rendered. Why? It was much safer to stay indoors. Under the circumstances it was not shameful to do so, either. Yet, in glancing back it may seem a sort of familial betrayal, i. e., something to be put behind.

Cemeteries and Funerary Practices in the Big Bend of Texas, 1850 to the Present does contain a story of self sacrifice in order to fulfill one's duty in caring for the sick. That is the story of Dr. Roy R. Longino, the city health officer and sole physician in Fort Stockton at the time (see pps. 62-3).

Has I known about the "influenza quarantine tent city" south of Marathon and Mrs. Viola Pettus's charitable nursing of the sick at great risk to herself it certainly would have been in the book. What a story! But nobody came forward with it. Que sera.

Glenn Willeford
Chihuahua City, Mexico

[ view entry ] ( 3996 views )   |  permalink  |  $star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image ( 3 / 558204 )
Glenn -- I really like your blog. I am looking for background on a woman named Viola Pettus who is known locally as having been the "nurse" at the influenza quarantine tent city just south of Marathon during the 1918 outbreak of "Spanish flu". Her husband Ben was a well-known cowboy. Viola may have been one of those early frontier nurses that made up for lack of formal training with guts and compassion. A friend who is a nurse/researcher is interested in determining if there is enough available material to piece together the story of her sacrifice in 1918.
Any leads will be appreciated including pictures, records, letters, descendents, photos etc Ben and Viola appear on headstones in the Marathon cemetery - close to the dividing line between the Anglos and "Mexican" sections. There were a number of black "seminole" families in the Big Bend, none more remarkable than the one Viola and Ben formed.

Tyrus Fain

Your friend has touched on a topic that very much needs to be done. The emerging threats of another influenza epidemic especially in the Big Bend is one that should be addressed. History always repeats itself. I suggest a start with some background reading on the flu epidemic in Texas. See the Handbook of Texas article on epidemic diseases at: ... sme1.html. I think it a good idea to begin with the bibliography for the article. The Handbook also has two articles on Seminoles that have helpful bibliographies: ... bms19.html ... bmb18.html
The best single book I have on Seminoles in my library is: The Five Civilized Tribes: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole by Grant Foreman, University Of Oklahoma Press, 1934.

Narrowing the research specifically to Viola Pettus will be difficult but I do not mean to say impossible. Its just one of those topics that will take a lot of digging and that is the only way to determine if there is enough available material to piece the story together. I think I would do some digging in Marathon. Are there any Pettus family members living that might have some info about the story? You might need to do some oral history interviews with them. To find them try running a newspaper ad. Next I think I would check with the Archives Of The Big Bend at Sul Ross in Alpine. They might well have a file on this. Also be sure to look though the newspaper index of the Alpine Avalanche at the archive and spend some time with their extensive oral history collection. See:

Another suggestion is to go through the El Paso Times newspaper index at the El Paso Public Library. Perhaps the Barker Center For American History at U. T. in Austin will have some holdings. See: And don't forget to look at U. S. Census records for Marathon. You might be surprised at the population decline due to the epidemic.

One final suggestion, when I take on a project like this I always put together a list of search terms. This way when I start to dig for material, I have an idea of what I am looking for. Here is a suggested list for the topic: Viola Pettus, Ben Pettus, Spanish Influenza, Texas Seminole Indians, Big Bend Seminole Indians, Brewster County Influenza emidemic, Marathon Influenza epidemic, Brewster County Influenza and so on. As your research progresses add to your list. Hope this is helpful and good luck!

[ view entry ] ( 36285 views )   |  permalink  |  $star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image ( 3 / 557265 )
Examples of ineptitude and injustices perpetrated by individual Texas Rangers (TR) as well as entire units are not uncommon throughout the history of Texas, even up the present day. UT historian W. P. Webb, generally considered an apologist for the TR service, criticized TR activities back to the 1870s during the "Cortinas War on the War Grande," in his The Texas Rangers:A Century of Frontier Defense (1935), 181-2.

The Mexican Revolution brought on another series of border problems that resulted in atrocities. The most well known of those are the well documented (i. e., state representative "Tony" Canales investigation) and photographed slaughters carried out by state rangers between Brownsville and Laredo.

The Big Bend region was not without its problems either, particularly following the "Santa Isabel Massacre" of nineteen American miners west of Chihuahua City (Jan. 10, 1916), the Pancho Villa raid on Columbis, NM, (March 10, 1916) and the raid by starving and desperate Mexican bandits on Glenn Spring, TX (May 1916). Later, on Christmas Day, 1917, the raid on Luke Brite's ranch on the high plain above the escarpment overlooking the Rio Grande valley west of Marfa brought on a near fever pitch of resentment and demands for "justice" among the Anglo population of the region. Both the US Army and TR service were called on to mete it out. The Army, it seems, acted with circumspection leaving the dirty work to the state militia, or TR service. And those boys went about it with a vengeance (See: Glenn Justice, Revolution on the Rio Grande: Mexican Raids and Army Pursuits 1916-1919). One cold night in January 1918 a squad of TR under the command of Capt. J. M. Fox, of Brownsville area fame,rounded up Porvenir, Texas, taking "fifteen men between the ages of sixteen and seventy-two and marched them off into the darkness to a rock bluff . . . where they unceremoniously shot the Mexicans to death"(Justice, 39). No evidence to qualify any arrests had been found so the TR acted as judge, jury and executioner. Problem solved. But what problem? Many of those killed were U.S. citizens.

Those were only the "main events" of the killing season. Murders by TR took place all around the region. One, for example, happened in broad-open daylight in downtown Marfa when Carlos Morales Wood, the Valentine, Texas-based editor of La Patria, a Spanish-language newspaper was gunned down by two TR. Both rangers involved later became Texas sheriffs. Ron Segura points out another episode when TR H. L. Robertson murdered one of Segura's relatives.

Glenn Willeford

[ view entry ] ( 4488 views )   |  permalink  |  $star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image ( 3 / 378770 )
Hello, Glenn ~ I am trying to identify 2 unused real photo postcards (circa 1910) that feature beautiful horses ("Flambeau" on one, "Resultal" on the other) with their trainers. The horses' names and "T.O. Ranch" were handwritten on the negatives before the photos were developed (unidentified photographer). One horse appears to possibly be a quarter horse, but the other is much larger.

Do you have information on the T.O. Ranch that would indicate they had racehorses or show horses? Any further information on the T.O. would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time!

Lori Kimball


I have no doubt the T. O. Ranch had race horses. For many years, the ranch was the principal broker of cattle and horses coming out of Mexico during the Mexican revolution. Pancho Villa kept his armies going by stripping the haciendas of Chihuahua of their vast herds. It has been estimated that between 1910 and 1920 some one-million head of cattle were sold across the Texas border many times for as little as $5 a head. The cattle and horses were often exchanged for guns and ammunition. When President Woodrow Wilson placed an arms embargo on Villa, the going rate for ammunition rose to $1 per round. Five shots for every cow but do not underestimate the quality of the livestock. An example of this is the Terrazas hacienda. The Terrazas were not only the largest landowners in Mexico but in all of Latin America. They had magnificent horses and some of the finest cattle of the day. For more on this search my blog archive for T. O. Ranch. Gj

[ view entry ] ( 4695 views )   |  permalink  |  $star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image ( 3 / 518638 )
H. O. (sic) Robertson is the person responsible for the murder of my grandfather, Rodrigo Barragan and his friend, Febronio Calanche. Robertson was a cold blooded killer, worked the border as a river rider, was deputized as a Texas Ranger and when his friend, Joe Sitter was killed, he took revenged by killing every Mexican he came in contact with, to include the above named and also my uncle Anestacio Segura.

I pray that someday, someone will publish the real truth of who these people really were. Recently the Texas Ranger Association put a headstone on Joe Sitter's grave in Valentine, TX to "honor" his service as a Texas Ranger. This story appeared in the Marfa big Bend Sentinel, you could probably contact Marfa paper and view in their archives.

Ron Segura

You are not alone in your assessment of Texas Ranger Horace L. Robertson. Candelaria merchant and Justice of the Peace wrote the following account after investigating the murder of Barragan and Calanche in 1914.

I have always felt sure it was Robertson who shot to death Barragan and Calanche or ordered it done. Robertson as he came up the river was still boss of the T. O. Ranch and the men with him were his cowboys and under his control. Anyway if he neither did the killing himself, nor ordered it done, he sanctioned, or acquiesced in and there is no use to deny it the foul deed. The following are the known facts in the case.

Barragan and Calanche were hunting a lost bull in the dry pasture between our ranch and the river. Our ranch, at that time, was owned by Calanche."

(This ranch is today known as the Circle Dug Ranch see for more. Be sure and click on the history link.)

Kilpatrick continued,"Robertson and his men camped on the edge of this dry pasture near the trail leading to Calanche's ranch house the night of the same day the two Mexicans were hunting the lost bull. Two days later when Barragan and Calanche failed to show up, Mexican trackers went to hunt for them. Their trail was stuck and followed into Robertson's camp. From the camp there were only two trails-one made by the main body of Robertson's men going on up the river; the other made by three or four horsemen going up a small arroyo. Following this later trail the dead bodies of the two men were found. Upon the head of each were piled his saddle blanket, cartridge belt and gun.

The only possible interpretation of these facts is that Barragan and Calanche while on their way late in the evening to the latter's ranch rode into Robertson's camp when they were tied up,--the trackers declared there was evidence of this, until the next morning. After breakfast, the main body of the gang went on up the river. Two or three remained behind, took Barragan and Calanche six or seven hundred yards up the arroyo and shot them to death. The killers then-for there was their trail cut across (sic) and joined the main body.

Now, Robertson knew of Calanche, and that he did not have a spotless reputation among some of the stockmen, and he was not unaware that Calanche had once been indicted for the alleged theft of a calf. But doubtless he didn't care to remember the old Mexican came clear (sic). This is why, I believe Robertson killed him, had him killed or consented to his killing. Barragan was shot merely because he was with Calanche, the once indicted calf stealer. Here Robertson was shown up in what seemed to be his true colors. All he wanted was some accusation, suspicion or former indictment and then he would rashly proceed either to manufacture evidence or to just kill the supposed thief. Yet no investigation was ever made of this most wanton and cruel slaying of three innocent Mexican citizens: Holy Jesus! And we call this a Christian land and one of law and order where God still reigns. Forty years ago before the fundamentalist church people struck Presidio County so outrageous an affair would have received serious attention. But now with her villages and towns full of school houses, places of worship and halls of justice, would be assassins and cold blooded murders go scot free.

Kilpatrick felt very strongly about the murders and went so far as to appear before a Presidio County Grand Jury and as he put it begged for an indictment that never came.

Several years ago, members of the Calanche family from El Paso located the graves of Barragan and Calanche on the Texas side of the Rio Grande just up river a short distance from the Los Fresnos, Chihuahua crossing north of Candelaria in Presidio County.

I am at present working on a manuscript detailing these murders by Ranger Robertson. Robertson was later tried in El Paso for killing Joe Sitters son, Walter Sitters. A few years after the trial, Robertson was shot to death in the Texas Panhandle. The book will also have a chapter on Joe Sitters and his vendetta to kill Chico Cano, which ended in his own death in 1915. I share your frustration with the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame because they seem to do their best to glorify the bloody deeds of many of these old rangers.

Ron, are you also related to Leno Barragan of Candelaria? I also have found some interesting things about him and plan to include it in my forthcoming book titled, "More Little Known History Of The Texas Big Bend: Documented Chronicles Of Apaches, Comanches, Frontiersmen, Outlaws And Lawmen".


[ view entry ] ( 6438 views )   |  permalink  |  $star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image ( 3 / 368656 )
I am researching my mysterious ancestor named Lewis Gardner. He was born c. 1810 SC, migrated to GA where he married, fathered children, and farmed. He then migrated to MS where he owned a farm. His wife divorced him and he went to Texas after the Civil War. Lewis lived in Houston County for a time and spent his last years in Johnson County, Texas.

He probably got remarried, but family lore says that Lewis had a reputation as a bad man and that he was later supposedly killed by horse thieves at a place pronounced 'Natchez' near Brownsville, Texas.

Do you know of a place pronounced 'Natchez' near Brownsville?

Would you know of any Brownsville newspapers from about 1865 - 1880?

Any note of a mysterious gunfighter named Lewis Gardner in south Texas?

He was said to have been involved in a gunfight near the King Ranch and was also said to have been ambushed and supposedly killed in a gunfight while transporting horses to Louisiana to be sold.

Their was also supposed to have been a postcard of him taken at Brownsville, Texas.

Thank you,
Corey Gardner

I did a little digging on this one and here is what I found. shows a Lewis Gardner, son of John Gardner born in 1810 in South Carolina. He died in 1880 in Dallas County, Texas. Not sure if this is your ancestor but might be. The Handbook of Texas has nothing on Nachez, Texas near Brownsville. I think you might want to spend some time doing research on this at the Barker Texas History Center at U.T. in Austin. Search their excellent vertical files and see what you find. The Barker Center also has the most complete collection of Texas Newspapers on microfilm available and should have Brownsville newspapers for that time period. Also, search King Ranch and see if you can't find something about the gunfight. I know there are several books on the King Ranch but do not have any in my library. The Barker should have this also. Good luck and let us know what you find about your gunfighter of South Texas. Gj

[ view entry ] ( 29093 views )   |  permalink  |  $star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image$star_image ( 3 / 522547 )

<<First <Back | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | Next> Last>>