Pancho Villa Lives On

MP News Staff


Associated Press WriterSAN ANTONIO (AP) – Item No. 1, for him: a Remington single-action revolver engraved with a scroll pattern and “Doreteo Arango” – Pancho Villa’s real name.

Item No. 2, for her: a pocket pistol in a leather case that bears the name Martha Jane Cannary – the true identity of Calamity Jane.

Weapons that belonged to the Mexican revolutionary and the hard-living frontier scout were expected to be the stars of a weekend auction in Fredericksburg that includes about 1,000 Old West objects.

The barrel of Villa’s revolver is marked “Chih-1914,” around the time he became governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The gun was made about 40 years before that and was expected to fetch at least $30,000, auction managers said.

Also up for bid is a Mauser carbine rifle that Villa reportedly dropped in the Rio Grande during a skirmish with opposition forces. Villa “carried it with him because it was handy when he was on horseback,” said Tom Burks, manager of the auction and former curator for the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco.

The rifle, estimated to have been made in 1898 or 1899, was expected to go for at least $25,000.

Jane’s Hopkins and Allen Ranger pistol, from the 1870s or the 1880s, was expected to sell for at least $35,000.

Calamity Jane, involved in several campaigns against American Indians, settled around Deadwood, S.D., and became friendly with Wild Bill Hickok. She died in 1903 and is buried near Hickok.

In 1916, Villa led a group of irregular fighters in a brief raid into Columbus, N.M., in what is considered the last battle against foreign forces on U.S. soil. Eighteen Americans were killed, prompting an unsuccessful manhunt for Villa. He made his peace with the Mexican government in 1920 but was assassinated in 1923 at the age of 45, likely out of fear he would rise up again.

“He is still a highly popular leader,” said Friedrich Katz, a University of Chicago professor emeritus and Villa biographer. “Many Mexicans identify with him. They feel he was a friend of the poor.”

Villa’s death mask, featuring his prominent mustache and eyebrows, sold at auction in 2006 for $17,000