The people around us became interested and listened and I explained the gospel as revealed through Joseph Smith. But Mr. Watson said there was one thing he had never been able to understand and that was why the Lord had revealed himself to the people on the other continent but not on this continent and there must undoubtedly have been people on this continent and why he had left them in ignorance of the Gospel. I explained that there had been a record found hidden in a hill and it was written in gold plates and had been translated to our language. It bore witness to these people having been visited by Christ and the
Church had been organized with prophets, Apostles etc. He said that was very strange. That he had never heard of it. I said, "Mr. Watson, you know we get into a rut and will not listen to those things that would be most beneficial to us." He asked if I could get him one of these books. I told him yes. A lady had been listening and clapping her hands and thought this the most wonderful explanation of the principles she had ever heard. She asked what church I belonged to. I told her I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, commonly called Mormons.
Mr. Watson was very astonished and told me I had said some marvelous things. I told him that these were the principles of the Gospel as revealed through Joseph Smith and that this book was the Book of Mormon. They asked me about polygamy. I explained to them and quoted scripture and told them that only the finest of people could enter into the law of plural marriage. I said it had been revealed through the Prophet and I was a product of this high and holy law. And that I had also entered into this principle.
Mr. Watson embraced me and said he had never had such light come to him and was very thankful for it. I corresponded with Mr. Watson for eight months and looked up the elders in Chicago. Mr. Watson was just going to be baptized when I received a letter from his son saying his father had just passed away. Thus proving the power of the Lord in breaking down false information.
In the year of 1893 I had the glorious privilege, together with my wife Mattie, to go to the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple in company with my very good friend, Joseph S. Cardon and his wife, Rhoda. We went together from Juárez by wagon to Deming and from there on to Salt Lake City and Logan where we had the privilege of going through the Logan Temple and receiving our washings and anointings and were sealed by Apostle Merrill who was then presiding over the Logan Temple.
We then returned to Salt Lake where we had the privilege of going to the dedicatory service of the Temple there; it was one of the most wonderful manifestations I have ever witnessed. While the choir and congregation were singing. "The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning," they were joined in this most wonderful hymn by a heavenly host whose description of their singing is beyond words. This gave me a wonderful testimony.
On returning home to Mexico I had the privilege of bringing with me my mother who has always been a wonderful inspiration to me; her faith and testimony was always a great blessing to me.
I have just remembered what a wonderful manifestation of the Spirit of the Lord came from Apostle Brigham Young, Jr. He was visiting the colonies and while at a conference in Juárez he was present with Brothers Moses Thatcher, Aaron Farr, his brother-in-law, and a man by the name of Hinds, the three having been disciplined by the church authorities and Moses Thatcher having been disfellowshipped.
Apostle Young arose and in the language of severity said, "I'm going to say something that may not be agreeable to some who are here. I give them an opportunity to get up and leave if they don’t want to hear what I'm going to say." He stopped speaking for a moment and there was a terrible spell of anxiety came over the congregation but when he continued speaking, instead of that harshness in his voice, it was mellow with the Spirit of the Lord which came to him and he bore testimony after testimony of the manifestations of the Spirit of the Lord.
I had invited Brothers Thatcher, Farr and Hinds to my home for dinner. We sat down to dinner.
I said to Brother Thatcher, "There seems to be something very wrong. It seems that the meeting was not quite complete. At all other meetings you have been sitting on the front row but today I noticed that you had a back seat, together with these companions, Farr and Hinds. We had a wonderful spiritual feast, did we not? Some wonderful testimonies were
borne by Apostle Young."
He said " Yes, Brother Brown. But I too, had a manifestation and my cause will yet be vindicated and proclaimed from the house-tops. I was being persecuted by my brethren so I went into my secret chamber and knelt down to pray in these words: ‘O, Lord! Why is it that thou hast left me alone in this day of my trouble and tribulations.’ Then the voice of the master came to me and said, 'O, Moses! My servant, why is it that you rest your strength upon the arm of flesh.' After that manifestation how could I accept the advice and counsel of my persecutors and the Presidency of the Church."
I said, "Why Brother Thatcher, I can't understand why you place that kind of an interpretation upon the word that came to you when in truth you are resting upon the arm of your own flesh and taking your own counsel and advice and the advice of the enemies of the work of God instead of those that could help you."
He went pallid and made no remark. It was a wonderful testimony to me that he had committed some great sin and was being blinded by the master hand of Satan and being guided by that power.
Another incident: I had the privilege of taking my wife Bessie and her two children [Else and Marguerite] to the Salt Lake Temple. In Salt Lake City I met my wife Jane who was studying medicine and mid-wifery. We went through the Salt Lake Temple where we received our washings and anointings and the two little girls of Bessie's were sealed to me and after these wonderful ceremonies were performed, Apostle Teasdale, together with President Winder, took us through the Temple and explained all of its magnificence and pictures and the wonders, of that wonderful building. It was a glorious privilege and opportunity and as we were leaving Brother Winder pronounced a wonderful blessing upon us.
Then a little later I went to President Joseph F. Smith and in his private office I presented the records of sealing that were performed by [Bessie's father] Patriarch Alexander Macdonald. [See "Solemn Covenant by B. Carmon Hardy, pages 317]
He looked them over and said, "Brother Brown, all of this work that Brother Macdonald performed was duly authorized by me and I want you to take these records back to Mexico with you and keep them until a later date as we do not know under the present conditions what search may be made by our enemies for records of these kinds; and when the time comes, bring them back and have them deposited with the Church recorder."
At the breaking of the Revolution I had those records deposited and took them from their place for fear they might be destroyed and on the return of Apostle Ivins from El Paso during that period after our people had been driven out of Mexico, I gave them to him to be taken to Salt Lake City to be deposited as I had been instructed by Joseph F. Smith.
Another incident: While living in Colonia Morelos, I remember that the seeds of discontent had been planted among the members of the colony, as reported in another incident, and I was very much concerned in regard to the matter. I wondered just how much of the responsibility and fault were mine. I continually prayed to the Lord to know whether or not my labors were acceptable to him and for inspiration that I might be able to be in harmony with his Spirit and be worthy of the place I had been called to occupy as a bishop. It worried me that I could not even have the peace of mind one should. I thus prayed and sought the Lord for more than a year without getting any satisfaction, for my prayers.
I, at this time, had just been to a conference in Juárez and in returning brought Patriarch, James Skousen, with me. When I awoke in the early morning I remembered that the Patriarch was leaving this morning for Douglas, Arizona. I remembered what Apostle Wilford Woodruff had said to me. He said he was in a like condition as myself, and wanted to know from the Lord something relating to his private life and he had asked continually without any results but when he was preaching from the stand in Snowflake, Arizona he was looking down on the congregation and saw a man by the name of Hatch who was a Patriarch and the Spirit of the Lord came to him, and told him to ask this Patriarch and he would receive his answer.
When the meeting was over he took Patriarch Hatch by the arm and led him around to the back of the school house and told him he wanted a blessing. Brother Hatch laid his hands on his head and instead of giving him a patriarchal blessing gave him the answer to his prayers. Thus proving in truth that the patriarchs are the prophets of the Lord unto his people.
This morning when I was remembering this I retired to the barn and there knelt down before the Lord and asked him to reveal his will and answer my prayers through his servant, the patriarch. I returned to the call for breakfast and Brother Skousen was sitting at my left. I got through breakfast a little before he did. As I raised to go he put his hand over and detained me and said he had something to tell me and the Lord had a blessing for me.
I told my wife Bessie to bring paper and pencil and Brother Skousen rose and laid his hands on my head and began to speak in the name of the Lord and said:
"I, the Lord, have seen thy labors and thy strugglings before me and I say unto thee for thy comfort and blessing that thy labors have been acceptable and thy sins are forgiven. I bless you with health and strength and the spirit of humility. As long as you are prayerful and keep my commandments my Spirit and blessing will be with you."
I bear testimony to the fact that just as long as I did my part that His blessing and Spirit were with me; but when I ceased to do his will that Spirit left me and I was left alone to wander in darkness and doubt. But at no time did I ever doubt the promises of the Lord.
I remember another incident: While I was in Bisbee on business I visited the little ward that was presided over by Bishop John Warren, an old time friend of mine, and after the services in the evening, the bishop and his two counselors said they wanted to talk with me.
Among other things they said was, "We are continually being asked to join these secret fraternities. What do you know about the instructions of the authorities of the church in regard to this matter?"
I told them my understanding was you should not join these societies; that there was enough in our church to take care of all of the matters of the Latter-day Saints. But as these people were under rather peculiar circumstances I promised to wait and think it over.
On returning to my room in the hotel that night I asked the Lord in regard to this matter and I had a wonderful dream which I related to the brethren as follows. I dreamed that I had joined one of the secret societies and I had died and over my temple burial clothes I had the Masonic emblems; the robe and apron and other emblems that make up the burial clothes of the Masonic order. I thought I went up to a great gate in a wall that surrounded a large city and there met the gatekeeper and I thought he was dressed in temple robes.
He looked at me and said, "Who are you? What are you doing and where are you from?" I told him all and that I had come to get entrance into that large city. "Did you come to get in this city with those clothes on?"
"Yes, but I have my temple clothes under these."
"You cannot come here with those clothes on; there is only one thing to do. That is to return to where you came from, repent of this condition and those strange things you have been doing and take off those clothes, then come back with those clothes on that belong to the house of the Lord."
I awoke with the feeling that as far as I was concerned I would never participate in any secret orders. I told them the dream at breakfast and they said they were mighty glad the information had come to them; that they could not accept the secret orders.
About the year 1907, President Ivins and Brother Pratt came over to Colonia Morelos and asked me if I would like to be released from my position
as bishop in that ward as they needed me over in Dublán to help bring together the contentious elements that were existing there and to help construct the canal to the reservoir. I replied that I would like to go anywhere the authorities wished me to go. So, in accordance with this, they released me as Bishop and advised me to arrange my business affairs and to go to Dublán as soon as possible. There I was called to be a member of the high counsel and assistant superintendent of the stake Sunday School with Bishop Jesse N. Smith and Lorenzo Payne, his first assistant; and we began immediately to hold meetings to try and bring about harmony among the people in Dublán and we organized the Laguna Canal Co. and began operations. Just at this time the W.C. Green Railroad people who had been constructing a grade running south east from Casas Grandes into the Galeana Valley, broke up, leaving indebtedness to the Unions Mercantile of $20,000 and to Willard Skousen, of $10,000.
The Green Co. had quite a large grading outfit including mules, plows, freznos and harnesses and other material which they had been using in an independent grading camp of their own. I went out to El Paso and there found the real status of their interests which proved to be hardly more than ten percent of what they were supposed to be. I immediately reported to Brother Bowman this condition for he was intending to take notes from the Green Co. for the amount of money due the Union Mercantile Co. I suggested to him that they take this grading outfit instead. They had already attached this outfit but were about to release it and take notes instead of the outfit.
I went up to Juárez and met President Ivins who was president of the Union Mercantile Co. and laid the matter before him and he came down and had a consultation with Mr. Bowman, the manager, and Willard Skousen who owned part of the company and they accepted my recommendation and the Mercantile Co. got all of their money and considerable more out of the outfit.
The Madero Revolution, November 20, 1910: There were a great many rumors coming from the south of what the rebel movement was doing down there and around Casas Grandes Generals Salazar and Alaniz had gather together sixty or seventy men and they were riding around this section of the country independent of the Madero revolution.
We were called upon by the Jefe Politico, Mr. Mesillas, to go out scouting to the northeast around the San Pedro mines as a rumor had come in that Salazar and his bunch were in that vicinity. Leon Pratt, Ammon Tenney, Ira Pratt, and Nathan Tenney and myself went. At the stock yards north of the colony we got in a freight car and were taken by the train to Summit station and there scouted around that section of the country up to San Pedro and along the foot hills of the Escondido mountains but before we came to these mountains we found that what had been reported to be rebels were only work animals that were being used to freight oar from the Leon Mines to the San Pedro Mines. We came home and reported the matter to the Jefe Politico and shortly afterwards at a stake priesthood meeting held in Juárez it was decided that from then on we would try and remain neutral as far as taking up arms against either side was concerned. But at the same time we resolved we would defend our own interests against any intrusions.
At this time a check was made on our arms and ammunition we had in store and it was found that most of our arms were of small caliber and power and that if we came in contact with any of these rebel bands, they could attack us from a long distance and we would not have anything to defend ourselves with. It was decided that we ask the Church for means to procure arms and ammunition to put us on an equal with anyone. I was dispatched to El Paso with this object in view but found it was impossible to get these arms for the purpose for which we needed them. I was made general agent and delegated to get these arms as soon as possible.
While in El Paso I met my old friend, Abram Gonzalez, who was then acting as rebel governor of the state of Chihuahua as well as commander-
in-chief of all of the forces of this state. In my conference with him I advised him we desired to remain neutral and it pleased him very much.
He said, "I have been very much worried about you people and your position in the country and feared that the Federals might force you into taking up arms against us and some of our bands of men and bandits might take advantage of the situation and bring on complications."
He took me and introduced me to Francisco I. Madero and together they wrote letters to be sent to all of the colonies to be handed to any rebel officers that might come around the colonies advising them in every way to respect the lives and property and interests of the colonies. There was no communication between El Paso and the colonies at this time because a band of rebels had torn up the Railroad track in several places and burned some bridges. I took these communications and also a letter to General Jose de la Luz Blanca who had come from the state of Chihuahua to the Tigre mining camp on his way to Agua Prieta.
I sent the colonies communications to Brother Junius Romney by my son Clyde Brown and I went myself, to meet General Jose who was then at the mining camp known as Pillares de Terras. This communication advised him to go to Ciudad Juárez with his troops as soon as possible.
He said, "I will go to Ciudad Juárez when I have cleaned up Agua Prieta and got money to take care of my needs." So I went with him close to Agua Prieta and from his camp showed him the town and the most advantageous way to capture it. He said, "Why, I am a military man. The idea of you, a civilian, giving me instructions."
I said all right and took the communication from him to the military chief in Agua Prieta. This town was ordered to surrender to save bloodshed but if they would not, the town would be attacked in the morning.
Blanco said, "When they see my army of 350 men and learn of my reputation
as a fighter they will surrender."
I replied, "You might be very much mistaken, because these soldiers are not like ordinary Federal soldiers; they have been on the Yaki River fighting Indians for five years and know how to handle their guns."
During the night Agua Prieta received reinforcements and they started out to meet General Blanco's army. I had started with a communication from Hernandez to the Madero representative in Douglas, going around the west side of Agua Prieta and up the arroyo and when about five miles from Agua Prieta I spied General Blanco coming with his troops. I was just going to advise him about the reinforcements when I saw him coming on a white charger at the head of a column of men. Over at the north the Federal troops were approaching. I hid myself between two large desert plants.
The Federal soldiers attacked General Blanco and his men before they knew the Federals were anywhere near them and the General and all of his men fled leaving a nephew of Governor Abram Gonzalez, with sixteen Tahuamara Indians who were all on foot to guard their retreat.
These Indians, in their skirmish, killed six Federal officers; one captain, two sergeants and three corporals; they lost four of their own men and two were wounded but they had held the Federals off until General Blanco and his men had made good their escape.
The next morning I went around the west side of Agua Prieta and came to Douglas and saw Governor Hernandez of Zacatecas. He cried like a child because of Blanco's foolishness. The next morning at daylight I left and went into Blanco's camp with a letter from Hernandez advising him to immediately go to Ciudad Juárez.
On arriving at Blanco's camp I gave him the communication and told him the Federal troops were then on their way from Agua Prieta to his camp and were going to attack him again. They immediately saddled their horses and left camp, going to Ciudad Juárez, a very disappointed bunch of men. I returned to Colonia Morelos to the Pitaciche ranch to where my cattle
interests were. I gathered a bunch of beef cattle to take to Agua Prieta where I had made a sale to a man by the name of Manuel Hernandez who lived at Agua Prieta.
We started with the cattle and as we drove the cattle into the stock pens to the east of Agua Prieta, about a mile and a half long the International Line we heard the rattle of musketry and saw they were fighting at Agua Prieta. General Rojas and a number of other men had come out of the mountain country coming up the Nacosaria where they got on the oar train and came up on the regular schedule and they fired from the train cars when the train arrived and drove the Federal soldiers, together with the customs guards, across the International border and took Agua Prieta.
While they were in this fight, the International line along the American side was lined with Americans, Mexicans and Chinamen and all kinds of people who were watching the battle. Manuel Hernandez and I rode down to the American Custom house and we could see rebels going into the back of his yards toward his house. He said, "O God! What will happen to my family."
I asked permission to cross the line. The American captain with a few soldiers said, "You cannot go over there. They are fighting and you might get killed."
At this I put spurs to my horse and crossed the line and rode to the house of Manuel Hernandez where I found the family frightened to death. I took charge of the situation and put five soldiers in front and five in back of the house with instructions not to let anyone pass; and I rode back into town. Twenty-five soldiers with a sergeant would be left at the military quarters to guard the retreat of the Federals who were crossing the line at that time. I met a commander of the forces who was General Madina; he had been sent down by Mr. Madero to take charge of the situation around Agua Prieta. I said, "What are you going to do with that little bunch of Federals."
"If they will surrender they will come to no harm but if they don't we will kill them." I rode over to the cuartel and asked them to surrender. The little sergeant said, "It is better to die like men than dogs, because if we go into the rebels hands they will execute us."
I said I did not believe they would and began arguing with them and they agreed to surrender their arms. I agreed to take them over to the U.S. side. I crossed over alone first, and got two sergeants and two American soldiers and came back and we were just ready to escort these men across when some women came and said they had some of the soldiers in another place but we could not wait so we escorted these twenty two men over to the American side.
I immediately returned and found four more men who had taken off their soldier equipment and were only in their underwear and a rebel captain had them standing up against the wall to execute them. The firing squad was ready. I shouted at him and told him to stop and release these men. He said, "By what authority?" I said, "By the authority of Madero."
He believed me and gave the permission and I escorted the soldiers to the American side.
The Federals got reinforcements the next night from Canonea and retook Agua Prieta, holding it for a long time. I returned to El Paso and found that General Blanco had arrived, increasing the rebel forces to a considerable number.
One morning while the Madero scouts were scouting near Ciudad Juárez, the rebels opened fire and they in return, returned the fire and that brought the rebel forces into play and they began running toward Ciudad Juárez and the battle was on without anyone having given orders. Then General Orozco gave orders to cut the water out of the canal and they came streaming along the river front and from there attacked the Federal
forces, driving them back. This battle lasted fifty-six hours. Surrender was made to General Smutts of South Africa, and General Garibalde. General Orozco, supposed to be in command of those forces, had been in hiding up until the time of the surrender.
This battle of Ciudad Juárez was the key that opened the way for General Madero to take charge of Mexico.
I returned to the colonies after the battle at Ciudad Juárez and found that the Jefe Politico, Mesillas, had died. There was an alarm that Casas Grandes was about to be attacked by the rebels. Mesillas had climbed a ladder on to the top of the Municipal building and had seen a big herd of cattle coming towards the town, which he took to be rebels. He became badly frightened, being hardly able to come down the ladder. He took sick and died and they sent Mr. Anastachio Mapola from Chihuahua to take his place. On hearing that I was here, Mapola immediately sent for me. I went up and he immediately demanded from me, one hundred armed men from Colonia Juárez and Dublán to protect Casas Grandes against any attack that might be made by the rebels. I advised him of the fact that we had decided to remain neutral as far as possible in the question of the Revolution.
He said, "If you people will not furnish me these men, when this revolution is over, I will see that the law, called the 33rd of Expulsion, is applied to you people." I replied that when this revolution was over, then we would see. I told him we would absolutely refuse to take up arms for either side.
Shortly after this he was driven from Casas Grandes and was taken to Chihuahua as a prisoner by General Villa's men and was executed.
On my return to El Paso from the colonies, I had received the money to purchase some arms and ammunition for the colonies. Previously I had asked the United States government in Washington, through Senator Reed Smoot, for a permit to export two-hundred-fifty rifles and ten thousand rounds
of ammunition to be used by the colonies in defense of their homes. In a meeting, as already stated, of the general priesthood it was decided we would stand our ground and protect our interests. Most of the arms we had were of small caliber and would not suffice to defend ourselves against the long-range guns, and for that reason we purchased these long range rifles and ammunition.
The President of Mexico had issued an order to arrest and execute any one that was found exporting arms and ammunition into Mexico other than those to be used by the rebel government; and there was a law in the United States to the effect that anyone found exporting arms and ammunition into Mexico without a permit from the War Department in the United States would be given from one to five years in the penitentiary and fined $5000.
I purchased a part of these arms and ammunition and loaded them on the train and shipped them in the name of T.G. Ernest, which was the alibi of Brother E. G. Taylor. He went down to a little station west of Columbus where the arms were scheduled to arrive and just as the train got there a sergeant with two soldiers rode up on their motorcycles, coming from Columbus having received instructions that there was a shipment of arms on that train. When the sergeant saw Brother Taylor, he said, "Is your name T.G. Ernest?" He said, "My name is Guy Taylor."
I had prepared a letter to the effect that Brother Taylor's mission and business in Mexico was looking after stolen horses, giving brands and colors of horses so in case he might get caught he could use this alibi. The sergeant immediately asked if he had anything on him to show who he was, and he pulled out this letter. The sergeant took it and read it. The sergeant sent the arms and ammunition on the next train back to Columbus.
Brother Taylor came and met me and said, "They are on our trail; it looks like we are going to jail."
When he told me, I told him to hide out and we would see what could be done. I immediately went up to the telegraph office and wired Senator Smoot in regard to the matter and received information back that he could not see there was anything that he could do to keep me out of the penitentiary; that I should not have shipped those arms without a special permit and that I was subject to the law. I then went up and saw General Stever who was our devoted friend. He was in command of Fort Bliss.
He said, "Mr. Brown, I cannot see there is a thing I can do for you. If you had advised me of this matter my men at Columbus never would have intercepted those arms."
For the moment it looked as though I was headed straight for jail. I got on the street car and was undecided what to do; in fact, I was worried, but I uttered a silent prayer to the Lord to inspire me to do the right thing and I immediately became calm and before I reached my room I felt as calm as a summer day. I went to my room and came out and the mail carrier had just come into the hotel and there was a letter from the War Department in Washington granting me the permit to export these arms and ammunition.
I immediately went down to the Federal court, as I had found there was an indictment against me, to see the prosecuting attorney. While I was sitting there he was examining some witnesses in another case and a man by the name of Sam Brown was being questioned. The attorney looked at him and said, "Are you the Brown who is interested in exporting arms to Mexico."
Sam Brown said that he was not. The attorney went on with his examination. I sat there about two hours until the court was dismissed for lunch, then I walked over to the attorney.
I said, "How are you, Mr. Oliver?" He said, "Fine. How are you?"
I said, "I am curious to know what relation this examination you were giving to Mr. Brown has to this case here."
"It has this relation: That I am looking for this man, O.P. Brown and men are out seeking him for attempting to smuggle arms into Mexico."
I looked him in the eyes, "Why, don’t you know me?"
"Yes! By Jolly! You are O.P. Brown."
I said, "Yes, I am the fellow you have been looking for." I pulled out this letter from the War Department in. Washington and said, "Now, there is a crisis on and these arms are being held in Columbus and if I am thwarted in getting them into Mexico I will feel like holding you responsible. I have purchased some more arms here in El Paso and I want you to give me a release for those down there and a release for these here, also."
He said, "Why did you ship those arms down there without this permit."
I said I wanted to get part of them down there first so they wouldn't be so bulky and likely to be suspected. But it seems the Mexican government had had a secret service men in the freight and express who had watched the shipments and had discovered this one.
"Come to my office and we will fix this out," said Mr. Oliver.
We went up and he checked the indictment against me off, and gave instructions to release the arms in Columbus and also to let me ship these arms from El Paso. These arms were received by Brother Taylor, Ira Pratt, Oscar Bluth and some others.
Just previous to this I had heard that Salazar, Alaniz and Emilio Campo were about to rebel against the Madero government. General Jose de La Luz Blanco was then quartered with about three hundred and fifty men in old Casas Grandes; I had come to find out the facts in the matter and while investigating in Nueva Casas Grandes I was held up by a Major and a Captain and a Sergeant who said they had information to the effect that I was a Madero spy. With drawn pistols they tried to force me behind
an old store house that was just south of the station house where they said they were going to execute me. When we got to the center of the road between the station and the old Ketelsen and Degetau store, I stopped and told them to shoot. I pulled out my book and pencil and took the description of these men, then put away my book and pencil and told them I was going to go back to the Ketelsen building; if they wanted to shoot, go ahead. They punched me with their pistols. The one responsible for this, and he was present at this time, was Teofilo Hermosillo who was then acting as a Major in the forces of Salazar. I advanced towards the building.
Hermosillo said to the others, "Look out! He is a bad man."
They stepped to one side and let me go by but followed me with their pistols in their hands. That morning I had felt an impression to take my pistol out of my scabbard and put it around at my back in my belt and when they saw I had no pistol in sight they thought I was unarmed. I leaned against the wall of the building and it looked like a matter of life and death. I was reaching for my pistol to open up on these three fellows that were there when a man by the name of Reyes Portillo came in sight. He said, "Hermosillo, companero, what are you doing with this man?"
He replied, "We are going to hold him here until Colonel Sylvestre Quevedo comes and then are going to hang him to the tallest tree at the crossing of the Casas Grandes River. He is a spy and is here in the interests of the Madero government. We are going to show this Mormons as well as the others where he will head in." Portillo said, "He is the best friend I have."
Then Portillo told him an incident: While I was driving some work mules along the lane coming from Casas Grandes to Nueva Casas Grandes I met Portillo and his hired man in the road. The hired man had hit Portillo's work mare on the head with a shovel and killed her because she was balky.
Portillo did not have another mare or horse to harvest his crops and was in need so I let him have one of the mules and said he did not need to pay for it until he got ready.
"I have never paid a cent for that mule and he has never asked me for any money and it has now been two years." "Will you respond for him," asked Hermosillo.
Portillo said he would. My wife was at David Spilsbury's place and I asked the privilege of taking her home for she was not well. They told me I could take her home if I would return in one hour. I replied I would return in one or two hours.
I immediately went and took my wife, Mattie, home and got my rifle and belt of cartridges and waited for them to come until after dark but they did not come. I got on my horse and started for Juárez. It seemed they had been watching my movements and a bunch were at the crossing of the river but instead of crossing there I went down farther. I heard these men and saw them; there appeared to be about fifteen. I went on to Juárez and stayed in the home of Brother Guy C. Wilson for two or three nights. Then I was taken to Pearson and got on the train somewhat disguised. Some of these rebels got on the train at Pearson, Nueva Casas Grandes and San Pedro, looking for me but I arrived at El Paso.
I found out on investigation that Salazar, Alaniz and Campo had made a combination with Pascual Orozco to rise up against the Madero government. Three days after I had left they gave General Jose Blanco an opportunity to leave or they would kill him. He also came to El Paso. A few days later General Pascual Orozco came to Ciudad Juárez and took all of his troops to Chihuahua, leaving the road open for Salazar and his followers to come into Ciudad Juárez and capture it, which they did without any resistance whatever. In fact, Mrs. Alaniz came into Juárez with sixty-five men and took charge of the city, looting the banks
and mercantile companies, taking whatever they desired, waiting the arrival of Salazar and Campo.
Two or three weeks later Salazar, Campo and Alaniz, with their forces in Chihuahua joined with Orozco's forces and they commenced their march south, driving the government troops before them. It must be remembered that Orozco had opposed the remaining in Chihuahua of any Federal forces of the old Federal government, and Madero, the president, had taken the troops out. And when they were marching south (Salazar, Orozco, and their followers), they were met, just south of the city of Jiménez, by forces coming from Torreon and Mexico City.
In the fighting south of Jiménez, the rebel forces sent an engine loaded with dynamite in among the government trains and it exploded and killed many men of the government troops.
At one time, General Salazar, thinking the rebel troops were right upon them, committed suicide. The government troops became demoralized and retired towards Torreon but President Madero sent General Nuerta with reinforcements to stop the oncoming of the rebels.
In the meantime, Mr. Llorente, the consul general in El Paso for the Madero government, had sent three men to the south in the rebel camp to try and get information as to their guns and amount of artillery and war equipment; but he asked if I could get a trusty man to go down and get this information. I found a man who took his wife and went into the rebels camps on pretense of looking after a sick brother. In this way he got the desired information and also a topographical map of surrounding country they were holding. On his return I went over the ground with him and we made a map of the hills and mountains and this map was sent to General Nuerta by a special courier hired by Llorente that he might know the exact situation of the rebels.
By this time, General Nuerta had his army equipped and started on his march northward driving the rebels before him. Before he arrived at
Chihuahua, I went to Mr. Llorente and Alberto Madero, who was then acting as advisor to his nephew, the president, and I told them of my fears of the rebels coming northward and disturbing the colonies. I made the suggestion that there be organized in the state of Sonora a force of government troops, sufficiently large to come into the Casas Grande section and repel any invasions that were sure to be made by the rebels when they came north. They accepted my recommendation favorably and sent it to President Madero in Mexico City.
He in turn dispatched immediately, General Garibaldi, an Italian general, who had taken part in the battle at Ciudad Juárez. He sent him to take charge of this affair. I was asked by Mr. Llorente to purchase arms and saddles and make arrangements for the purchase of horses for this expedition, which I did.
I accompanied General Garibaldi to Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta to help out in the organization. I bought five-hundred rifles, fifty-thousand rounds of ammunition and arranged for the purchase of five-hundred cavalry horses and five-hundred saddles for this expedition while it was being organized at Agua Prieta, as a concentration point.
A man by the name of Juan Dosal, who had been General Villa’s chief of staff, began to make trouble about having General Garibaldi take charge of this expedition and the troops that were organized refused to go with Garibaldi because of the fact that he was a foreigner. They demanded another commander to take charge of the forces. This somewhat delayed the expedition in its leaving of Agua Prieta. So Madero sent General Sanjinez, an old Federa1 general, to take charge of this expedition. Alvaro Obregón was behind these forces with one-hundred and fifty Yaki Indians.
In the meantime I had returned to El Paso and these men and equipment had started from Agua Prieta and had got as far as Oaxaca, Sonora, and having some artillery with them, they were unable to move it over the mountains. The people in Morelos were loath to help them because they
feared the after consequences of those who would come. I was dispatched by Mr. Llorente to Morelos and I arranged with William Nelson who sent over to Oaxaca and got the artillery up over the top of the Pulpit Canyon.
The forces came to Ojitos instead of marching on to Casas Grandes and remained there sixteen days and in the meantime Salazar, Alaniz, and Campo with the rebel forces had come over the Northwestern Railway to Madeira and Pearson and Casas Grandes. At Madeira, Salazar made a very strong anti-American, anti-foreigners speech. He demanded that all of the Americans at Madeira leave on penalty of extermination. He also made the Americans in Pearson leave for the U.S. Then he came into the colonies and they abused many of the families and homes. He demanded arms and treated them so that they could not stand it much longer.
Leaving a part of his men in Casas Grandes, he marched out towards Ojitos to meet the forces that were coming from Sonora and as they neared Ojitos they had what is known as "The Battle of Ojitos". The government forces drove the rebels back, but instead of following up their victory they remained at Ojitos overtime and then returned to Sonora.
In the meantime conditions in the colonies had become such that the people were forced to flee.
Previous to the people going out of Mexico I had the following dream: I dreamed that my son, Ray Brown, and I had come down from Douglas, Arizona, going towards Morelos; that we were both riding horses and had a pack horse carrying the bedding and other things. We arrived at a ranch known as Cuchavirache which was about half way between Douglas and Morelos and as we came upon a mesa by the ranch house I heard the clanking of spurs and sabers and men riding down under the mesa.
One of the men said, "We will have to hurry to catch those fellows
before they get to the colony."
I said to my son, Ray, "We had better take the upper road instead of going down the river."
As we rode along up the side of the steep hill, climbing up onto the upper mesa, my saddle cinch became loose and I got off my horse and while I was cinching my saddle I was surrounded by a number of black rattle-snakes; one of them especially large. He jumped at me and bit me on the left arm. After a fierce battle I was able to shake them off and I got on my horse and we rode along up the ridge. In the face and eyes of this large rattle snake was represented very vividly the picture of General Salazar and as we rode on top of the upper mesa I said to my son Ray who was ahead of me, leading the pack horse: "Take the left hand road and we will go around and back into the United States and these rebels will not get us for I know these rebels under Salazar are going to attack our people and they will have to come out of Mexico."
This dream so impressed me that on Monday morning I went to President Ivins who was in El Paso and I told him Salazar and his rebels were going to drive the people out of Mexico and I related to him my dream and the impression that I had received.
He said, "O, I guess you are mistaken. I have not had any impression in regard to this matter."
At this same time I wrote a letter to the President Junius Romney to this effect:
I feel impressed to say to you that Salazar and his rebels are going to demand the arms and ammunition of the colonists and will then drive them out into the United States. It seems to me the best policy to follow would be to deliver them the old arms and old ammunition and keep the new guns and ammunition that I have sent for your protection. I feel sure that the people are going to be driven out of their homes. I have received communications from Senator Smoot stating that he had just
visited the Secretary of State and the President in regard to our critical condition and that if we did anything that might bring on international complications in Mexico, the American government would not give us assistance or protection.
This seems to me that our policy as to defending our interests and protecting our homes makes the conditions unendurable and we will not be able to do so."
The following day I received a letter from my sister, Cynthia Layton, in Thatcher. It said my mother was very sick and desired very much to see me; that she felt she might die at any time. I showed this letter to Brother Ivins.
He said, "I think you had better not go just now."
Then on Friday morning's mail I received another letter from my sister, requesting my immediate presence in Thatcher, Arizona; that my mother was much worse. I showed this letter to Brother Ivins and asked him what I should do.
He said, "Well, I think you had better go."
I said to him, "Brother Ivins, things in the colonies are in a terrible condition and I don't feel like deserting my post but if you say go, I will go and if anything happens while I am gone, you can wire me. At any rate, I will be back here next Monday morning.
I arrived at Thatcher Saturday at noon and found that my mother's condition was somewhat improved. She had received a wire I was on the way. On a Sunday afternoon while I was in Thatcher I was privileged to speak in meeting. While addressing the assembly I briefly related the critical conditions of the Saints in Mexico and asked the people of that community for their faith and prayers for the preservation of the lives and property of the people in Mexico and I was inspired to say that not only did we need their faith and prayers but also their materiel help, for at this
time I knew the people would be having to leave because of Salazar and his red-flaggers.
After meeting was over I was asked to go and administer to one of our sisters who had previously lived at Colonia Morelos. On my return from that sister’s home I met President Kimball with a telegram from President Ivins.
It read: "Conditions serious return immediately."
When asked by President Kimball what I thought it meant, I said, "It means that our people have been attacked and are being driven out of Mexico by those bandits."
I returned home on Monday, finding that a train of our people who had been driven out had arrived at El Paso. I immediately took steps to find places of refuge for them and make them as comfortable as possible. It was one of the most heart-rending scenes I have ever witnessed in my life to see those women and children who had been driven from their homes and most having left behind their husbands and sons and their anxiety for their safety was a terrible scene. They continued coming out until all of the women and children from all of the colonies arrived in the United States.
Then I went to Douglas where I met the people coming from Colonia Oaxaca and Colonia Morelos; these had come bringing their teams and wagons. Then on going to Hatchita, New Mexico I met Brother Junius Romney and the brethren from the Chihuahua colony who came later. The reception of the colonists in El Paso, Hatchita and Douglas by the people who resided there was certainly wonderful. They seemed to try to outdo one another in their kindness and appreciation of our situation. This made the cross that the people were bearing, much lighter than it otherwise would have been.
We took the matter of transportation up for it had been deemed advisable and wise that our people be scattered among their relatives and friends in the United States. The railroad companies showed a wonderful spirit
of help and gave us a wonderful rate of one cent per mile.
Through Senator Reed Smoot and the U.S. government, a relief fund was passed and all of the colonists were given rations and provisions, which proved a great blessing. This fund was not only for the Mormons but for all Americans who had been forced to flee from Mexico.
Previous to these existing conditions, the conditions around Colonia Diaz had become almost unbearable. One of our brethren had found a Mexican’s horses in his wheat and his fence torn down so he drove the horses over to his Mexican neighbor and asked him to take care of them. The Mexican raised his shovel and beat his brother to death.
A little later, this same man that killed his brother together with his friend went and robbed the store of a great quantity of merchandise. An alarm had been given and the brethren tried to intercept the thieves but the thieves opened fire on them. The brethren returned the fire and killed one of them but the other escaped to Asencion and said the Mormons were going to come and exterminate them.
This word was sent by a courier to Ciudad Juárez and General Orozco, the father of Pascual Orozco, was in command of the rebel troops at Ciudad Juárez and he immediately organized an expedition and began training his men and horses to go to Gusman and from there to Diaz to disarm and drive out the Mormon colonists.
I had also received a communication from Bishop Ernest Romney in Colonia Diaz stating the facts in the case that these robbers had broken into the back of the Union Mercantile store and while escaping with the merchandise one of the brethren had tried to stop them and they had returned the fire. The brethren immediately sent a courier to Columbus with the information to me.
My man that was getting information for me at Ciudad Juárez at about the same time that I received the communication from Brother Romney, advised me of the movement and the intent of General Orozco. I immediately
looked up Professor Colonel Hernandez, who was the representative in El Paso of the Orozco rebel forces and advised him of the fact.
He said, "Our troops are going to go to Colonia Diaz and disarm those Mormons and expel them from the country."
I had previously arranged for ten machine guns and fifty thousand rounds of ammunition. I had organized a band of frontier men along the border for an emergency of this kind and I advised Hernandez that if those troops left for Gusman that we would head them off before they got to Colonia Diaz and the consequences of their actions would be made a matter of history, for at all hazards and costs I would protect those people in Colonia Diaz.
He immediately became alarmed and said, "For God's sake don’t bring on international complications. Come and go with me and see General Orozco at Ciudad Juárez."
I said, "You know that General Orozco and all of the rebel officers have orders to shoot me at any time that I am caught on the Mexican side because of the information that I got and gave in regard to their rebelling against the Madero government."
But he said, "I will guarantee that everything will be all right. Please come with me to see General Orozco that we might avoid a crisis."
I immediately communicated with General Stever in command at Fort Bliss and he advised me to go over there at this time and he phoned General Orozco that if anything happened to me while over there that he, personally, would be responsible and his forces would be attacked. I went over there and met General Orozco and his officers.
I said to them, "If you people want international complication, send your men over to Colonia Diaz. My men are ready to move at a moments notice and to stop any movement on your part to disarm those Mormons and drive them from the country and unless you immediately detrain your men and equipment and horses my men will have word in two hours."
The general said they did not want international complications and he gave orders to his chief of staff, Demetrio Ponce, to immediately have the horses and all detrained and taken from the cars and said he would leave the matter as I had suggested, to the courts of the land to decide in regard to the settling of the matter in Colonia Diaz. I returned to the American side communicating with General Stever and others in regard to this and also Mr. Llorente, the consul general in El Paso. I told them of the satisfactory arrangement.
The man's name that I had forgotten was Mr. Harvey, who was killed in Colonia Diaz and left a very large family of very small children.
Another matter that comes to my mind is that while on my trip to Casas Grandes I got the inside of the plot of the uprising of Orozco, Salazar, and that combination against the Madero Government. General Orozco and his father had gone to Mexico City and demanded from the Madero government $100,000 pesos each for their services up to that date in the Revolution and both President Madero and Abram Gonzalez protested against this large amount but offered to give Pascual Orozco and his father $25,000 pesos each as a gift but not as payment for their services.
The Orozcoes refused and said if they would not pay it there were others that would and they went away without receiving any money. Pascual Orozco and his officers had been banqueted by General Terazzas and ex-ambassador Enrique Creel who were the representatives of the old Scientific Party of Mexico and had entered into the plot of rising up against the Madero government and were using Orozco and the rebel forces of Madero against Madero government, making great promises.
I had advised the Mexican consul general in El Paso and had written to President Madero and Abram Gonzalez advising them of this plot and said if they did not do something immediately that this would be one of the blackest spots in Mexico's history. In reply to my letter President Madero said:
"We will look after this matter immediately."
I received a telegram from my friend, Abram Gonzalez who was secretary of the Interior in the Cabinet of President Madero and learned that he would be in El Paso in three days. He came and we held a consultation in which he stated he had $350,000 (pesos) to pay to the widows and orphans and the men who had served in the cause of the Madero government in the state of Chihuahua.
I said to him, "You are too late. The Revolution is now a bona fide fact."
He said, "Is it possible that Orozco is a traitor?" I said, "Yes, he is a traitor of the darkest kind."
He said, "Well, I think I shall go to Chihuahua." I told him, "It will cost your life if you go to Chihuahua."
But he went and had to remain in hiding there and later it cost him his life.
It will be remembered that General Huerta and his forces were driving the rebel forces of Orozco and Salazar to the north, before the exodus of our people and that Salazar and his forces came over the northwestern Railroad from Chihuahua to Cases Grandes and Pascual Orozco went over the national road to Ciudad Juárez. And at this time Huerta arrived at Chihuahua with his forces. They were banqueted by the Terrazas Creel Scientific Faction and although there wasn't anything that came to light of the plot that was formed until later, General Huerta and his forces followed Orozco and his forces to the north; Orozco burning the ties and putting the railroad track out of commission; Huerta's forces following, their fires in sight of each other, without attacking each other.
The fact came out later that this Scientific Faction of Traitors in Chihuahua had advised Huerta not to destroy the Orozco forces because it would be a matter of time before they could bring about a council between Orozco and his party and Huerta and his party. Orozco and his forces divided, some going towards Ojinaga and some towards Casas Grandes.
Huerta and his forces arrived at Juárez with all of his artillery and began to prepare for their new plot against the Madero government. They bought cavalry horses and I was on a deal with Huerta to sell him six hundred artillery horses. At this time, he was acquiring ammunition and arms and artillery horses and making his preparations. The Chief of Staff who was a fine looking officer of French extraction, was turned over to me by General Huerta to make the negotiations for artillery horses with.
I had arranged the purchase of the horses pending the coming of the money from Mexico City. It was delayed and General Huerta and his officers were very anxious and had received indirect information that there was a counter plot being formed by one of the men in the secret service but the details were lacking. I asked the Chief of Staff why they waited on Panchito Madero to do things; why didn't Huerta take matters in his hands and do things as they had been done once in Mexico. He said, "That is just what we are going to do."
He revealed to me the whole plot in which Huerta was to return to Mexico City and release Reyes who was then in the penitentiary in Mexico City and was to take charge of some of the forces. General Feliz Diaz was to rise up in Vera Cruz and together these were to march on the Capital and capture President Madero and his officers and slay them and take over the government. (At the time he revealed this plot to me he was drinking wine and dining with me in El Paso.)
About twelve o'clock that night I went to the home of the lady who had been doing my stenographic work and told her to get up and do me some work and I wrote a history of the contemplated plot and sent a copy to Apostle Reed Smoot in Washington and gave a copy to Abram Gonzalez and one to the consul general in El Paso. The copy to Gonzalez was sent by a special courier by Loredo to Chihuahua and Gonzalez in turn sent a copy to President Madero.
General Pescera, who was with Madero when he received the communication, said that Madero gasped and said it would not be true. Pescera told him that he believed these things to be true. He said that Mr. Brown had given them the lowdown on the Orozco affair and the same source was responsible for these elements. But President Madero wired to Huerta to come to Mexico City and there they had a consultation and Madero bared the information I had sent to him but of course Huerta repudiated it all. But Huerta was only biding his time and an opportunity to carry out this plot. This plot was eventually carried out to the disgrace and chagrin of the whole country and to the shame and disgrace of the Ambassador to Mexico, Mr. Henry Lane Wilson, who was a party of this plot. When discovered by his own government he was disgraced, discharged and called home.
As had been contemplated this Terrazas Creel combination in Chihuahua got in communication with Orozco and Salazar and the rebels and they entered into an agreement and joined the Huerta forces. During this time General Villa was mobilizing his forces in the mountain districts of Chihuahua and Durango and while the Orozco forces were in Ciudad Juárez he made an attack upon the town at daylight in the morning and took the city. In the morning as the men and officers were being brought in, among them Colonel Enrique Portillo and some sixty other officers, Villa
with his officers had their headquarters in the Mexican Customs house in Ciudad Juárez. He ordered these prisoners immediately to be executed. Bishop Arwell Pierce, Mr. Tod McClamey, and I went over to Ciudad Juárez to the cuartel and we witnessed the execution of Enrique Portillo and his three companions. The others were taken out to the cemetery and lined up and executed and all buried in a large pit that was dug for the purpose of their burial.
The Orozco forces that came from Chihuahua and attacked the Villa forces in Juárez were driven off with considerable loss. Villa then went into the northwestern mountain country with his men and General Feliz Terrazas, one of the Orozco Generals, with three trains of men went to where he was to attack him.
He was then at San Andres, about sixty miles west of Chihuahua. Villa allowed the trains to come up the canyon from Santa Isabel then blew up the bridges behind them. At this time his forces attacked them in the canyon from the hills and out of 3000 men that went to attack him only 1300 returned to Chihuahua. The trains were loaded with provisions and equipment which Villa took into the mountains and buried for future operations.
In a stone corral, Villa stood up one thousand prisoners, in rows of five, one behind the other and with their own guns shot them down to see how many men a Mauser bullet could go through and as the men fell they were treated with a "tiro de gracia", (bullet through the head).
Villa then began to get stronger and with his forces went to Chihuahua and drove the rebels out. He also went to Jiménez and Santa Rosalia. By this time the Torvino brothers had been sent by Huerta to take command of the forces in the state of Chihuahua. One was to be the Governor and the other to be in command of the military forces. Villa attacked these from the south and east and after twenty-four hours
of battle drove them from Chihuahua to the north. They went to Ciudad Juárez and Villa followed, attacking them on the way and their officers and a great number of their men passed over the border into the United States. Then Villa took Torreon after ten days of battle in which he showed wonderful military genius. He followed them south and at Zacatecas drove them before him, killing ten or fifteen thousand rebels there.
It was then that General Carranza who had taken charge of the Madero forces, sent for Villa to return to Chihuahua and take charge of the military forces in the north. Carranza feared that Villa, with his strength and popularity, might try to thwart Carranza's plans. Carranza was recognized as the rebel president in Mexico but Villa refused to accept this arrangement and said he was going to drive the Huerta forces out into the sea.
An arrangement was made; the Carranza officers decided to hold a conference at Aguas Calientes and that there should also be present the Zapatistas and the Obregón and Calles forces and in fact, all of the revolutionary forces. At this time the Obregón and Calles forces were coming from the west driving the Huerta forces before them, and in many instances destroying them. They went into Mexico city and took charge of the city, driving the Huerta forces out and then a conference was held at Aguas Calientes. Zapatista was named to the disappointment of the Carranza forces. Obregón refused to acknowledge this nomination and the Villa and Zapatista forces concentrated and made a drive on Mexico City and drove out the Carranza forces.
Obregón retreated to Vera Cruz and later was strengthened in his forces and came up to Mexico City, driving out the Villistas and Zapatistas to the north, and following them and at Salaya the largest battle of the Revolution was fought; it lasted three days in which the Obregón
forces cut the Villa forces all to pieces. Villa fled to the north making small resistance until he came into Torreon and Chihuahua.
He left General Fidel Avilo at Chihuahua City and General Ornellos at Ciudad Juárez and General Villa with about 1500 men came to Casas Grandes and Dublán and there made preparations to invade Sonora. While at Colonia Dublán he had an explosion of dynamite in the tithing grounds killing about fifty of his soldiers. He then made his way westward through the Pulpit canyon in front of Agua Prieta where he had found out that reinforcements had been allowed to go through to the United States, coming from Nogales, Sonora, to reinforce General
Calles who was in command of the forces at Agua Prieta. Villa made an attempted bombardment on Agua Prieta but as he was shooting down hill, the artillery, instead of hitting Agua Prieta, passed over and did no damage whatever.
Villa then went around to the south to Canonea and down the Southern Pacific Rail road to Magdalena and just south of here he met the forces of Obregón that had been sent from Mexico City around by Guadalajara to intercept him. They gave him battle with a complete rout and his men went up through the Yaki country, being cut to pieces by the Yaki Indians, and arrived back into the mountains with less than half of the men he had started from Dublán with.
When Villa arrived at Madero he found that all of his forces in the state of Chihuahua had surrendered to the Carranza government. This enraged him very much and he began making preparations to invade the United States. He traveled down through the mountain country and the Hop Valley, near Pacheco. There was an American family consisting of the man and wife and a little two-year-old boy. They lived here. The Chief of Staff shot the man and gave the boy to a Mexican woman and forced the woman to accompany him on their way to the United States Border. On their road they hanged and shot three Americans whose names I have
forgotten just now. At the attack of Columbus, Cervantes released this woman he had forced to live with and accompany him.
Villa and his men burned a part of Columbus but in their anxiety and greed to loot they overlooked the main object of their raid and the small American troop of soldiers came into play and drove them out with big losses to the Villa forces. His forces came on down through the country and arrived at Corralitos. They hanged the two Palanka brothers with two of their sons. They then came up the country, leaving Dublán to the west and going out by the lakes and up through Galliana and El Valle. At this time the American Expedition was organized under General Pershing, which followed the trail and captured and executed a number of Villa's men but failed to capture the main object of their crossing the border, which was the capture of Villa. While they were encamped with military headquarters at Dublán orders came from the Carranza government not to let the Americans proceed farther into the interior but to keep them in the north. They also sent word that they had placed troops to the south and east to prevent the Americans from going there.
General Pershing was anxious and sent two scouting parties to the east and they encountered the Carranza forces at Carrazal where the captain in charge of the scouting parties was killed and also a lieutenant and sixteen colored soldiers [Buffalo Soldiers under the command of "Black Jack" Pershing]. The Federal forces of Carranza captured thirty-five colored soldiers, and the chief scout of the expedition, Lem Spilsbury, was taken to Chihuahua City.
When the Punitive Expedition was organized I took service in the secret service Department under General Bell, who was in command of the American forces at El Paso. I was instructed by him to go over and meet the colored soldiers that had been taken prisoner, as well as Lem Spilsbury, which I did. I also received the horses, ammunition, rifles,
and pistols that were delivered by the Carranza forces.
At Ciudad Juárez, previous to these happenings, my wife, Jane Galbraith Brown, and her family were going from Morelos to Douglas, Arizona, and the mules became frightened and the wagon was overturned, killing my son, Galbraith Brown, who was eight years old. They took him back and buried him at Colonia Morelos [next to Bessie Macdonald Brown, Orson's third wife who had died October 23. 1904].
After the exodus of our people, Salazar, Campo, and Alaniz followed General Sanjinez who had retreated to Sonora with his troops and between Agua Prieta and Fronteres, General Obregón, who was then only a colonel, with 250 Yaki Indians, gave Salazar battle and gave them such a threshing that they retreated towards Chihuahua City. And between Fronteres and Colonia Morelos, Obregón again attacked the Salazar forces and cut them to pieces. They retreated by way of El Tigre mining camp where they robbed it of bullion, merchandise and provisions. They loaded the bullion on their burros and had started on their way toward Bavispe when a rumor came that Obregón and his men were close behind them and they abandoned their loot and made their way out by Carretas. A number of their burros were found dead with the bullion tied to them.
While I was in the employ of the United States government under General Bell, there had been a number of very disagreeable circumstances that had come up between the Carranza government and the U.S. government. It seems that Carranza did everything he could to drive the American troops out of Mexico. The United States had many conferences through their ambassador in Mexico City but without satisfaction; so they demanded a conference to see if something might be brought about. An agreement was made between General Scott, of the American army, and Obregón, Secretary of War and Marines of Mexico. Conference was held at Ciudad Juárez and El Paso to try and bring about some arrangement that would be amicable to both parties.
In the meantime the United States government had concentrated 65,000
soldiers of all arms at and near El Paso for the purpose, if needs be, to invade Mexico. Her navy, also, had been concentrated at convenient points for the same purpose.
General Bell called me in consultation with General Scott and Scott told me that unless there was an amicable agreement brought about at this conference that the U.S. forces of all arms would invade Mexico within twenty days and he asked me to convey this information to Obregón. In compliance with instructions I went to Obregón and told him I feared terrible consequences unless there was an agreement made. He and General Scott had already had one conference before I was given this information. He said, "We don't propose to have Uncle Sam for a stepfather."
I said, "You will not only have him for a stepfather, but also as a stepmother if there is no agreement made."
They had another conference without any satisfaction and then I was instructed to go back again and this time General Calles had come and was present at this conference. For an hour and a half I set forth the conditions that were existing and had existed and what would exist and I begged them to listen to what I had to say.
"You and I will not suffer personally so much, but the women and children and the poor people of Mexico will suffer because of this invasion which is inevitable unless an agreement is made for this matter in the Paso del Norte hotel this afternoon between you and General Scott. Obregón, I have always looked on you as a patriot and pride and vanity should vanish from this proposition and you and the others should have patriotism and come to this agreement to keep the U.S. troops from invading Mexico." He said, "What is patriotism?"
I said, "A man has patriotism when he will give everything for the benefit of his country; even his life." He said, "There are few of that kind of patriots in the world."
I said, "No, there have been and always will be lots of that kind of patriots; men who would even sacrifice their lives for their country; I believe you to be of that class.
He said, "There was only one good man in the world and that was Christ and he was sacrificed because he was good and I don't want to be sacrificed."
I said, "The cause you have espoused means you will finally lose your life for it and now you have an opportunity. Your country and people are being sacrificed."
He turned pale, and so did General Calles and Mr. Amador, at my words and prophecy.
Obregón said, "Mr. Brown I believe every word you have said and am going to do the best I can for the salvation of my people and country."
They went into conference at four o'clock that evening at the Paso del Norte hotel in El Paso and at four o'clock the next morning they had signed a tentative agreement with a stipulation that said agreement must be sanctioned by the Congress and President of United States and the Government of Mexico and the President must sign it also; averting a great crisis. The United States President Woodrow Wilson and Congress signed the agreement but General Carranza and the Mexican Congress never did approve of this agreement.
Then was the World War between Germany, France, Great Britain and other European countries and before other matters of serious nature had appeared in Mexico, the United States had entered into the World War. Obregón and his party split with Carranza and followed and killed his troops and Obregón came into power as President of the Republic.
Then followed General Calles as President; then there was another political upheaval. Obregón was being feted and was at a big feast and was assassinated, giving his life for the cause he had espoused.
When the United States declared war against Germany there was a rumor that General Calles was organizing forces with Germany in the state of Sonora near Hermosillo, to invade the United States. I was asked by General Bell to go to Sonora and make an investigation of these rumors. When I arrived at Nogales I learned that they would not allow any Americans into or over the border. I met a man who was the master mechanic of the Southern Pacific and who was from Tucson, Arizona. I had my Mexican citizenship papers with me and expected to go over the border the next morning.
This man said, to me, "A man stole my daughter three or four days ago and has gone to Sonora with her. I just got a letter from her and she wants to return."
He implored me very sincerely to try and find her and return her to him. My citizenship papers were accepted at the Mexican Emigration Office and I was allowed to proceed to Hermosillo where I stayed two or three days and found there was no truth as to the rumors about President Calles. I proceeded to Winoyas, Sonora, Mexico, and there also found there was no truth to the rumors.
I had a photo of this girl, the daughter of the mechanic; her mother was of Mexican extraction. On going around the plaza here in the evening I saw this girl. She was a very beautiful blond of about seventeen years of age. She was sitting on a seat with a Mexican woman. I walked up to her and showed her the photo and she was pleased and said the man who had taken her was expected home that night and that he was a very dangerous man and she was afraid he might kill her. I invited her to the hotel and gave her a room and the next morning
at seven o’clock we left for Nogales. I had wired her father and he met us and took the girl home to Tucson.
This incident is one of those in which we do good and evil presents itself. For the matter of this girl was the most fatal step of all of my experiences in life. This matter so worked on my mind that I found myself in a condition of not being worthy of fellowship with my brethren and sisters and therefore wrote a letter to the Bishop Arwell Pierce, of El Paso, which was forwarded to President Ivins and then to the Stake High Council of the El Paso Ward, St. Joseph Stake, in which I made confession of misdeeds and I was disfellowshipped from the church [May 7, 1922].
I later had family troubles and my three wives [Mattie, Jane, and Eliza] all got divorces from me [c. 1914] and I was alone. [Five years later I met and] I then married [March 18, 1919] a young lady by the name of Angela Gabaldón, of Mexican extraction and moved to Ciudad Juárez to live and while there I took a position with the War Finance Corporation of the United States, to protect their cattle interests in the Santa Clara Valley, Chihuahua. I ran down three cattle thieves and put them in jail; among them one American. I located forty-two head of cattle.
While in this work a Mexican at Las Lamentos mining camp I got information of a band of bandits and murderers who were in that vicinity. Mr. Muller, the superintendent, asked me to get them. So I resigned my position and wired to General Caravello and told him the situation and told him to send me twenty-five soldiers. We scattered and found the camps where they had been and they became alarmed and scattered.
Previous to this, the train had been attacked near Caudelaria Chihuahua, on the Mexican Central Line by a bunch of bandits who had killed the one American paymaster together with five railroad men and three Mexican Section men. They murdered these men in cold blood and robbed the train. This had happened a year and a half previous to my taking service here and within three weeks after my taking service we
captured two of these bandits who were executed by the Federal government and found the location of a lot of others.
Superintendent Muller took pneumonia and died and his successor refused to pay any more expenses.
Caravello had received instructions from Calles to follow and execute all of these men that could be located.
On March 26, 1925 I was again admitted into the Church. I was baptized by Bishop Arwell Pierce and confirmed by my very true and good friend, Brother Thomas Kimball of Thatcher, Arizona, at El Paso, Texas. In 1927 I moved to Colonia Dublán, beginning again my appreciation and sense of the blessings of the Gospel. I was employed in El Paso in the winters of 1929 and 1930 and on the first of March I received a letter from my son Miles Brown, asking me to come to the Centennial celebration [of the Church, April 6, 1830] in Salt Lake City. He sent me fifty dollars and said he had told the other boys to do the same and was sure they would; and I had the glorious privilege of accompanying Brothers Keeler, Pierce, to Salt Lake City to the Centennial.
While I was there I met President Ivins and he took me into the office and said he had been instructed by President Grant to confer upon me my former blessings. He laid his hands on my head and gave me all of my blessings and resealed my wives to me, and also my children.
This was one of the happiest days of all my life. I returned home to Dublán. Shortly afterwards I had a most wonderful manifestation.
I dreamed that I was on a beautiful hill that sloped down towards the east. I had heard that the Master was coming and I was gazing into the heavens watching for him to come. Then I walked down the slope where there was a road and by the side of the road stood a man and kneeling at the feet of this man was a Mexican.
As I neared, the man who was standing said, "Who are you looking for?"
I said, "I am looking for the Master."
He said, "You, like many others, are looking where He is not."
Then He passed on along the road with the Mexican and I followed them until I came to the bank of a beautiful river and there my wife and her baby joined me and as she came near me she had the baby in her arms but she dropped it and it slipped into the river. I jumped into the river, which was crystal clear, and brought the baby unhurt. As I looked across the stream I saw on the other side a wonderful space of green grass surrounded by trees. It was one of the most beautiful spots I have ever imagined. I saw my mother coming down the slope.
I said, "Don't you know me, mother?" "Of course I do, son," she said.
I said, "Look at this beautiful baby." "Yes, she is most beautiful."
I asked her if I could come across to where she was but she said I could not for I was not yet prepared, and to wait until I was prepared then I could come and join her.
Then I said, "Why mother, you do not seem to be lame any more." My mother had been a rheumatic invalid all the last years of her life.
She said, "No, son. I have my resurrected body and am free from all pain. Her countenance was lighted up and it was most beautiful and she looked like when I could first remember her."
Then she disappeared and I marveled at this wonderful manifestation and knew that I must surely be more prepared.
Just going back a little: While at Salt Lake City [April 1930] I had the privilege of meeting my wives Mattie and Eliza and had a thorough understanding with them as to the future. I also met my dear sister, Abbie [Cynthia Abigail Fife Layton], at Los Angeles. And I saw some of my children at San Francisco and at other parts and in Arizona.
About two weeks before I had been called to preside over the [Dublán] Mexican Branch, I had an interesting dream wherein I saw myself laboring among the Mexican people, having been called to a position of responsibility. When I related this to my wife Angela she said, "Where and when do you think you will be called?"
I said, " I do not know but I want to be prepared and be in a spirit of humility. I want to go wherever they call me."
When I heard the voices of Brothers [Abner Eldredge] Keeler and Abegg outside my door late in the night, I knew that I was going to be called to labor among the natives.
I am thankful now to say, that while my labors have not been altogether satisfactory, I am enjoying this labor and I want to leave my testimony to all of those who read this that there is only one way and that is to be humble and prayerful; for the beginning of my downfall was in the neglect of the paying of my tithes and my lack of devotion to the Lord.
There is only one way, and that is in service and humility, to retain the Spirit of the Lord.
[October 23, 1904] The death of my wife, Bessie Macdonald, at Colonia Morelos, was one of the severest blows in all my life, for she was one of God's noble women and a wonderful counselor and companion; God bless her memory.
President Junius Romney and myself began to look for some place for our refugees to get homes and we visited the Pacos Valley in Texas, also Carlsbad, New Mexico and found what looked like suitable locations. We went to Salt Lake City and laid the matter before President Ivins (then Apostle), and he sent us to the First Presidency and treated us most kindly and gave the following advice:
"We feel that it will be better for the Mexican Saints to scatter among the settlements of the Latter Day Saints than for them to locate all together."
Then the refugees began to scatter.
Then Brother Joseph C. Bentley came out from a trip to the Colonies in Mexico. He said, "Brother Orson, I am going to see the First Presidency of the Church and try and get permission for those who desire to have the privilege to return to their homes in the Colonies."
I said I thought it very foolish at that time and opposed the move as entailing too much danger. But he said he felt impressed to make the effort and he went to Salt Lake City and the brethren of the First Presidency gave their consent and their blessing, but not their advice, to return to Mexico.
Brother Bentley was right and I was wrong, as matters have since proved; and here and now I want to pay the following tribute to Brother Joseph C. Bentley: He is one of the truest friends, most humble and God-fearing, and has by his life proved to be one of the most courageous, (I mean moral
courage) of all the men I ever had the privilege of being acquainted with and associating myself with. When duty has called there was no thought of danger and the consequence to his personal safety.
My experiences with Señor Villa, first after the Villa forces had driven the Huerta forces from the State of Chihuahua and the Terrazas and Creele Contingent had left Mexico and come to El Paso: I got information that there had been organized an English Syndicate to take over all the Terrazas and Creele land and cattle holdings in Mexico and that Senator A. B. Fall was the Terrazas and Creele attorney arranging this deal because all the revolutionary factions in Mexico were respecting English subjects and their property rights.
I immediately went to Señor Rodolfo Fierro in Ciudad Juárez for a permit to go to Chihuahua City to advise General Villa, who was acting Governor and Commander of the Carranza forces in the state of Chihuahua. There were no trains running at this time between Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua. He said to me, "Come over tonight at eight o'clock and I will take you on a special train."
So I went over and we arrived in Chihuahua at 4:00 A.M. next morning and went immediately to Señor Villa's headquarters. I related the information and that morning he issued a decree confiscating for the Government in the name of the Government all the properties of the Terrazas and Creele holdings, lands, cattle and all properties owned or controlled by them.
He did this by the authority he had as Governor of the state and had the state Congress in a special session approve the act, thus thwarting the plans of the Terrazas and Creele traitors.
Another experience: I later took service under Señor Villa as Inspector of Cattle. Crossing from Mexico to the U.S. one morning, I received word that a man by the name of Juan Terrazas had arrived at Palomas with twelve men and twelve-hundred cattle, and that these cattle
belonged to about twenty people; principally to the Guermo Arutia Estate, from the Fresnel Ranch near Gusman.
I was reporting this matter to Señor Benavidis, commander of the military forces at C. Juárez at military headquarters, when, as was his custom, without previous announcement, in came Señor Villa, having come from Chihuahua and Señor Benavidis said to me:
"Tell Señor Villa what you have just told me."
So I reported to Señor Villa and without hesitating he said to execute the men, confiscate the cattle, and bring them here, and then began giving other orders.
They had a leased wire from Ciudad Juárez through El Paso to Columbus and Palomas. The operator took the message and started to send it when I spoke up.
I said to General Villa, "My, Señor! I don't think you should send those instructions to execute those men. They are only men being employed to bring those cattle to the border and as far as I have knowledge are not enemies of our cause and besides it is sure to have a bad effect with our friends, the Americans, on the American side."
He straightened up his head and thought for a moment and said, "Change the order. Release the men, confiscate the cattle and bring them here."
This was done and the men came with the cattle and were allowed to pay export duty on the cattle, thus saving the lives of twelve innocent men.
Another incident: Lem Spilsbury had purchased from one of the Carranza or Villa colonels about one hundred-fifty head of yearling heifers, supposed to be from the Babicura Ranch and had taken them to the U.S. Later David Spilsbury and Byron Macdonald had purchased about four-hundred-fifty head of cattle in the pueblos of Cruces and Namaquipas and brought them out to Juárez.
I had gone over them and signed their release and when they came to pay the export duty the Fiscal Agent said these cattle were confiscated. He showed me a telegram from Señor Villa.
I said, "That is strange. These cattle are O.K. What is the matter?" He said he didn't know and just then in pops Señor Villa and when I asked for an explanation he told me this: "They are confiscated. That’s all."
The next morning I went over and met Señor Villa. I said, " Señor, Mr. Spilsbury and Mr. Macdonald desire to see you and make any explanation you may desire."
He railed out, "These cattle are confiscated! If those men come over here I will have them both shot! That’s that!" I protested and said, "To me this is an act of banditry to take these cattle from these men in this manner, not giving them a chance to defend themselves."
So I went to Señor Benavidis and told him and he said: "Mr. Brown, be careful. The Señor is in a bad mood."
I went to El Paso and next morning I went over again and as I knocked on his door he opened it but never took his hand off the door knob but put his right hand on his pistol. He looked at me in the meanest way possible. He said, "You called me a bandit yesterday, you ______---______--!! I know who you are!"
I looked him straight in the eye. I prepared for an emergency, as I knew there was one. I figured on grabbing his pistol if he tried to pull it from the scabbard.
I said, "General, I still think you are not treating these men fair." Things looked and felt mighty bad but I just looked him straight in
the eyes and when the crisis seemed to be consummating a knock came at the door. He opened it a little and two Americans were standing there. He said, "Get out!"
And I got out and was very glad for the privilege. I immediately went to Señor Benavidis, commander of the Post.
On entering he exclaimed, "Did you not get my message I sent you last night?" I said I had not.
Then he said, " Señor Villa was very much infuriated with you for what you said to him yesterday. He said if you ever came over here again he would kill you; that he never let any man talk to him as you had and live."
I told him what had happened and he was very much surprised. He said, "You just have a charmed life," He told me I had better stay away from there.
About a week later I received word from Edmund Richardson that Villa’s men had held him and other men from the Colony of Diaz with their cattle at Palomas. I went to Villa. When he saw me coming he turned his back on me, but I went around in front of him and gave him my message and he said,: "I will give my decision to General Benavidis. Go to him and don’t you come to me anymore!"
He was angry. I never had occasion to go to him any more, for which I was glad for he was a most disagreeable man to deal with.
In regard to the Macdonald claim, Spilsbury cattle: When the Villa Fiscal Agent crossed them into the U.S. I helped Spilsbury and Macdonald claim them and get their money out of them. I later found the reason for confiscation was that Mr. Hayes of the Babicura Ranch had told the
Villa Fiscal Agent that this bunch of cattle were those from Babicura that Lem Spilsbury had bought; a mistake all together.
Another incident: While I was working for General Bell and representing him in Ciudad Juárez, one morning while I was making the rounds of the jail as my custom, a man called to me. It was Joseph Williams from Colonia Dublán. I talked with him, then went to see Señor Francisco Gonzalez, commander of the Carranza forces at Ciudad. Juárez.
He said, "This man and two others, Mexicans, had a bunch of stolen cattle and I am going to have them executed tomorrow morning."
I protested and went and told General Bell. He wired to Columbus; an airplane went to Colonia Dublán and returned to Columbus with word from General Pershing regarding the incident. I took this word from General Bell to General Gonzalez.
"You, Señor Gonzalez, will be held personally responsible for the safety and life of Joseph Williams."
Gonzalez railed out, "If you Damn Americans think you are going to give me orders on this side of the border you ______ are badly mistaken!!"
Then I said, "Don’t you dare execute this man for if you do General Pershing and his forces will hunt you as they are now hunting Villa."
He turned pale and I went to El Paso and General Bell called Andres Garcia, the Mexican Consul and told him that if Williams was not protected he would cross the border.
Garcia went to Juárez and counseled with General Gonzalez. He accused me of threatening him and we had some lively words in General Gonzalez’s office but saved the life of Joseph Williams.
August 20, 1932. In conclusion I want to make the following declaration: That the preservation of my life in the many instances and incidents has not been because of my personal bravery but because of my being willing to serve others in a humble way and thereby depending upon the
Lord for his strength and protection, which was promised me by his servants in whose words I have implicit faith.
I hereby give my testimony that if we are faithful in the service of the Lord He will protect and bless us in every way that will be for out good. We are useful in this life only according to the service we render others; the privilege to serve is the greatest blessing that ever came into the life of man and it depends on the kind of service we give, the amount of good we get out of it and the blessings we reap.
For the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the most sacred trust ever handed down to man from the God of our fathers and we who have had the privileges of its blessings should see to its preservation in all its virtues, inspiration, vigor and strength.