Recent history?

Mormons, Pearson, & Pancho Villa

During the late 19th century several Mormon colonies were settled in the area including Colonias Juarez, Garcia, Pacheco, Dublan, Madera, and Chuichupa. The photo shows modern day Colonia Juarez with its orchards, school, and temple.

In 1909, Fred Spark Pearson, an American electrical engineer and investor, established the Ferrocarril Noroeste de Mexico (Mexico-Northwestern Railway Company). The corporation operated in the early 20th century between El Paso, Texas, and the lumbering, mining and agricultural areas of northwestern Chihuahua. The village was called Pearson, in his honor, and began as a lumbering center and rail hub.

The company purchased four short railways and constructed one; it also acquired extensive timber lands and lumber businesses and formed the Madera Company with mills at Madera and Pearson in Chihuahua and the El Paso Milling company in Texas.

In 1910, one of the first battles of the Mexican Revolution occurred in Paquime.

By 1912 the Mexican Revolution was becoming more violent and threatening to the colonies and the rail company. The Mexican Government told the Mormons that the government would no longer protect them. The Northwestern Railway also suffered great damage.

In July 1912, the Mormon colonists congregated at the train station in Pearson. All women and children were to be evacuated to Douglas, Arizona and El Paso, Texas. Many colonists decided the uncertainties and heartache associated with life south of the border were too much to bear. Less than half of the colonists returned to the Colonies when the revolution ended in 1920.

After the Mexican Revolution, the president of Mexico declared that any town that had been named an Anglo name would be changed to the name of a Mexican hero. Pearson was renamed Mata Ortiz, in honor of Juan Mata Ortiz.

Pancho Villa and his men.

Pancho Villa was injured during the Revolution. He recuperated at a Mormon facility. He is second from the left in the picture.

Pancho Villa in his bathing suit getting ready to enjoy time in the water.