Pearson
Mormon Colonies
Town Renamed Juan Mata Ortiz

The town of Pearson was renamed Juan Mata Ortiz in honor of the Mexican general in 1924. For many decades the citizens of the newly named town continued to refer to their town as Pearson. 

 

Mata Ortiz served as a repair facility for the Mexico North Western Railway until the early 1960s, when the repairs were moved to another location and the facility was dismantled. Employment plummeted.

Pancho Villa and the Mexican Revolution

During the late 19th century several Mormon colonies were settled in the area including Colonias Garcia, Pacheco, Dublan, Madera, and Chuichupa. 

 

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.

 

The Mormon temple in nearby Colonial Juarez is pictured above.

 

For more about this time in history, click here.

The village of Juan Mata Ortiz began as a lumbering center and rail hub.  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 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 time the lumber mill in the village that came to be called Pearson was the largest in the world (pictured above).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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

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