Massacre at Porvenir, 1918 by the Texas Rangers Co. B
The Texas Rangers were founded in 1823 by Stephen F. Austin, known as the 'Father of Texas,' to protect settlers near the Mexican border. They consisted of young men with little experience, mostly cowboys, and eager to fight.
On 28 January 1918, under the command of James Monroe Fox, ten rangers, eight U.S. calvary, and four Anglo-American ranchers entered the village of Porvenir.
The village was on the Rio Grande River, and the name Porvenir meant "The Future. It was a small village of poor farmers tending their little farms, quietly barely existing. The rangers surrounded the village and roused the men from their homes and led 15 men and two boys out of the village to a nearby hill, leaving the U.S. calvary at the village.
The rangers and the ranchers shot and killed the unarmed men and boys and left them where they lay. The next day, the son of one of the men killed, Juan Flores went with the school teacher, Henry Warren, and discovered the massacre. The remaining villagers of 140 fled over the border to Chihuahua, where they buried their dead.
Within a few days, the whole village was razed by the U.S. calvary. Among the dead were two Mexican-Americans with deeds to their land. Manuel Moralez, 47, had a deed to 1600 acres, and Roman Nieves, had his deed to 320 acres.
Investigation of Provenir Massacre
Cpt. James Fox failed to report the massacre for over a month. And, were it not for the courage of Henry Warren and Jose Tomas Canales coming forth with their reports, to might never have been exposed. Their statements were the opposite of Cpt. Fox.
Fox stated that the villagers ambushed the rangers, and he had no choice but to pursue and kill them. Warren was astute enough to documents the particulars of that massacre. He obtained affidavits of several widows of the victims. Texas ranger, Wm. H. Hanson conducted an investigation and concluded that Co. B should be tried for the killings. The grand jury found no rangers guilty. Five rangers were dismissed, the rest, including Cpt. Fox was reassigned. Co. B was disbanded.
It was then that Texas State Representative Jose Tomas Canales launched a broader investigation into the misconduct of the rangers. As a result, the Texas Rangers were reduced in size, administrative changes were implemented, and stricter recruitment requirements were required.
For years, especially 1914-1919, it is estimated that some 5000 ethnic Mexicans died as a result of racism and greed for the land they owned.
The state-sanctioned violence was to end, and the rangers illegal excessive harassment included. For years the rangers perfected police brutality, racism while the politicians called for violence against the people of Mexican descent.
Texas Rangers have never given a formal apology. No one has ever been held accountable for this massacre.
Aftermath of Provenir
The last survivor of the tragedy, Juan Bonilla Flores, died in 2007, age 101. He is buried at Mt. Oliver Cemetery, Big Spring, Tx.
Henry Warren, the teacher who documented the attack, was forced to leave the area after receiving death threats and unable to find work. He relocated to Arizona and worked in the cotton field. Warren had refused to remain silent of the massacre and paid a price for his courage.
Recently, the bronze statue of Jay Banks, Texas Ranger, was removed from the Dallas Love Field Airport because of racism, abuse of rangers authority, killings, and political partnership. The statue had the ranger quote, "One Riot-One Ranger."
Historian Walter Prescott Web characterized the Texas Rangers abuse as the work of untrained rogue agents.
Texas filmmaker, Andrew Shapter, produced and directed Provenir, Tx., a documentary of the massacre.
On 11/30/2018, after years of trying to get a marker placed, the state set a marker 27 miles west of Marfa, Tx, on Hwy 90. The historical marker was installed under the Texas Historical Community of the untold Stories Marker Program. The marker includes the names of the victims.