On January 28, 1918, a group of Texas Rangers, U.S. Cavalry soldiers, and local ranchers descended on the village of Porvenir in Presidio County, Texas to avenge a series of cattle raids along the Mexico-Texas border. Under the cover of night, this band of armed vigilantes marched residents out of their homes before murdering 15 unarmed Mexican men and boys with no proof that anyone from Porvenir had anything to do with the crimes. No one knew about this heinous massacre for weeks, and when the gruesome execution finally came to light, the dead were described as “thieves, informers, spies, and murderers.” Their story stuck for almost 100 years, but the truth is a much more upsetting affair.
A Christmas Raid
With the Mexican Revolution winding down, strong anti-Mexican sentiment gripped places like Texas and New Mexico by 1918, leading to near constant clashing between neighbors. People living on the border were especially touchy following Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico two years earlier, but the act that lit the fuse of the Porvenir Massacre occurred on Christmas Day 1917. Nearly 45 bandits descended on the Brite Ranch in Presidio County, killing three Americans in their tussle with the 8th Cavalry. No one ever conclusively connected the bandits to anyone in Presidio County, but the Cavalry decided that they had to be locals.