Thursday, February 9, 2017


Two amazing human beings with lifestyles NOT of the rich and famous type are on display at the Arizona Historical Society Museum in Tucson.  The first one is Pancho Villa.  VIVA LA MEXICO!!  I doubt he ever really said that, but he went from good guy to bad guy to good guy in a flash in the early 1900's.

This hat on display was supposedly worn by him.  No proof here however, but it is a beautiful Mexican Hat said to hold 10 gallons of water, thus the cowboy 10 gallon hat came about.
This man's history would be a lot easier to read about if there weren't so many others involved in the revolution.  At around 16 years of age, he supposedly tracked down and killed a man who raped his sister.  He then joined a bandit band with a leader by the name of Parra, the most notorious in Durango.  Eventually he met a representative for the presidential candidate Madero, who convinced Pancho to fight for the Mexican Revolution.
With the help of Villa, Madero won, but was the worst President ever.   He allied himself with Carranza (head of his opponents military) and didn't reward his own army, led by Villa and Orozco.  Pancho ended up fighting for the Federal Army under General Huerta AGAINST Orozco, but didn't like the control Huerta tried to hold over him.  Huerta then discredited Pancho by accusing him of stealing horses.  Pancho socked Huerta in the jaw, who immediately ordered his execution.

After an appeal to Madero, he was sentenced to prison instead, where he learned much about war from other imprisoned Generals.  When he heard about a coup on Madero, he actually tried to warn him after escaping prison and crossing the border near Nogales.  Apparently no one believed him, because Madero was murdered.  Uh oh ... Huerta took over.

Now joined up with Carranza to fight Huerta, Pancho Villa became the Governor of Chihuahua, where his fame spread to none other ... Hollywood.  He allowed them to film his moments, with him as the star of course, upon payment of 50% of the profits to the Revolution.  He raised more money to fight Huerta by stealing from banks and big landowners, printed his own money and held people hostage until they "donated" to the cause.  He was so good at it, the United States Army studied his war tactics.    His group became the most feared Army in Mexico, including the women shown here.
With a victory at Zacatecas, Villa broke the Huerta regime and the fight was on for a new President, Carranza or Zapata.  Theres lots more, but in the interest of boredom I'll cut it short.  Eventually, the United States got into the fray, siding with Carranza.  Believe it or not, even the Germans joined in the mix, but in the end, Pancho Villa was not actually defeated, he negotiated a peace settlement.  He was granted 25,000 acres, where he retired with the remaining 50 guerrillas who received 500,000 gold pesos.

Here's a stagecoach he might have robbed back in the day.  Still in great condition, there are seats for nine.  It wouldn't have been fun traveling in the old days in the heat and dust of Northern Mexico into Southern Arizona.  
Pancho had several wives over the years, none of which were really legal since he never divorced any of them.  Luz Corral was the final wife, who gained some sort of legitimacy when Pancho Villa was assassinated in 1923, probably because he talked publicly about re-entering politics.  All seven of the killers were caught and sentenced to either death or the military.  Pancho's last living son, Ernesto Nava, died in Castro Valley at the age of 94 in 2009.   
If you lived the rich life, whether on the prairie or in the desert, this might be the saddle you would ride as the wife of the landowner.  On the horse, it would not be sloping back like it does here.  As I was taking pictures, one of the docents came by and asked me if I knew anything about these saddles.  I spent most of my life in a saddle, including a couple of these.  They are much easier to ride than they look, but definitely are for a leisurely walk to town, not loping across the countryside.
Here's one I haven't seen before.  This tiny spur was attached only to the left boot, which would come into contact with the horse.  The right leg only came into contact with YOUR left leg, so didn't have a spur on it.  Not that they really needed spurs, but it's very creative, so say the least.
You might also wear this wedding dress as the queen of the hacienda.  Although this had been remodeled, it was returned to it's original state by the students in the Preservation Class at the University.
The inside of your hacienda might look like this, with the most beautiful Indian baskets I've ever seen, hanging on the walls.  The green paint is a little much, but to each his own.  There are maybe five rooms in the museum, each made to look as it would have back in the day.
As Pancho Villa roamed the countryside, he might have seen this Studebaker wagon used by "Cookie" to feed the cowboys and cattlemen.  Studebaker made the best all around wagons with cookboxes on the back, just like this one.  In fact, Kent Rollins, famous Dutch Oven cattle camp cook, uses one exactly like this!!  You may have read about my cooking exploits with his cookbook.
Probably one thing you WOULDN'T see in the desert was this embroidered pin cushion.  I thought it appropriate to compare it with MY embroidery.  THIS however, was made by an amazing lady who was kidnapped by Apaches and carted across the country, before escaping after most all of her family was killed.  She crawled back home to Madero Canyon, where she lived alone and raised her daughter.  

Finally marrying an abusive Doctor husband and becoming addicted to heroin, her then five children were removed from the home and sent to California.  She made this pincushion for her mother in a more carefree time in her life. 
Life was pretty hard in the OLD days of Arizona and Mexico, and this museum tells it all, including the good and the bad.  There was a $6 entry fee, but you can park in the garage for free, if you can find it!!  Get your "get out of jail free" card at the desk or the parking lot guards will charge you.  

The other most interesting thing about this museum ... they have the rifle Geronimo gave up when he was finally arrested.  That's tomorrow's story!!


  1. I have spent many, many hours at that museum over the years. Their research library is outstanding.

    1. I wish I could have spent more time there Nick. Great people!!