Mormon Colonists of Mexico Who Moved to the US

Douglas D. Alder, “Mormon Colonists of Mexico Who Moved to the US,” in Dixie Saints: Laborers in the Field, ed. Douglas D. Alder (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2017), 187-216.


In 1852, after the Mormons became established in the Salt Lake Valley and nearby areas, their leaders publicly announced the restoration of plural marriage as previously practiced in Old Testament days. That immediately alarmed people in other religions in the United States. The Republican Party launched a platform against “the twin evils of barbarism—Slavery and Polygamy.”[1] They put pressure on the federal government to intervene in the federal Territory of Utah to terminate polygamy. President Buchanan was convinced of the necessity to take action. In the summer of 1857, he sent one-quarter of the army to enhance the role of the federal government in the territory and to replace Brigham Young as the governor.[2]

On the way, the US Army encountered several difficulties, including an early winter and Mormon raiders who destroyed their supply wagons. They had to winter in the ruins of Fort Bridger, something they had hoped to avoid. During that winter, Colonel Thomas Kane (who was not a Mormon) undertook negotiations with President Buchanan and was authorized to travel to Utah to achieve a settlement. He was successful in getting Brigham Young to agree to step down; be replaced by a Buchanan appointee, Alfred Cumming; and to admit the army into Utah. Young accepted Cumming but required the army to relocate a long distance from any Mormon settlement. Thus the army remained at Camp Floyd until the outbreak of the Civil War, at which the soldiers left Utah to fight for either the South or the North. It was a peaceful solution for the Mormons to what could have been essentially a localized civil war, one not about slavery.[3]

The army’s departure because of the Civil War did not end the political battle over polygamy. Congress enacted an antipolygamy law in 1862, but the Latter-day Saints dug in their heels and defended the practice of plural marriage because they believed it was their right under religious freedom. However, a massive journalistic campaign continued to attack the practice and Congress continued to deliberate. Finally, in 1882 the Edmunds-Tucker Act was passed, which authorized actions that aimed at disestablishing the LDS Church and forcing an end to polygamy. The LDS Church officials were faced with a choice of moving the Church from the United States once again or terminating polygamy. Federal officials actively worked at enforcing the law, imprisoning many men who were practicing polygamy. Church leaders often went into hiding. In 1890 Wilford Woodruff, LDS Church President, issued a manifesto disallowing the performance of further polygamous marriages. That brought about a cooling of the conflict but not a final settlement.[4]

During the 1880s, some Mormons looked for other solutions. They did not want to abandon any of their plural families. They wanted to escape harassment from federal marshals. One interesting option was to move to Mexico, where such arrests for practicing polygamy did not occur. Several Mormon villages were established in northern Mexico, not far from the US border. As the years went on, especially after 1890, more people moved to those colonies. Several wards were organized there, even a stake. One of the most interesting aspects of the Mormon colonies in Mexico is that the Church called Anthony W. Ivins from St. George to go to Mexico and preside over the colonies there. Ivins was a respected leader in Utah’s Dixie. As a youth he was the romantic lead in the St. George Opera House. He was later mayor of St. George and a counselor in the St. George Stake presidency. He was a major rancher on the Arizona Strip and an avid friend to the Paiute Indians. His wife was the daughter of Erastus Snow, the founding leader of St. George and an Apostle. He was a monogamist. His cousin was Heber J. Grant, who later became the President of the LDS Church.[5]

The reason to mention all these details is that many of the people from those Mexican LDS colonies moved to the communities of the Mojave Desert, in or near southern Utah, to escape the Mexican Revolution of 1910–11. They were much later interviewed by Fielding H. Harris in the years 1968–70, so their stories are included in this study. Most of those who were interviewed were offspring of polygamists in Mexico. Some of their parents did not practice plural marriage but did live in those colonies. These interviews mention the Mexican Revolution of 1910–11, the impact of Pancho Villa’s soldiers on their settlements, and the colonists’ escape to the United States. Some of them settled in Long Valley (Orderville), on the Arizona Strip, and throughout the Mojave Desert area.[6]

Considerable scholarly study has been devoted to the Mormon colonies in Mexico. Among them is an early book by Thomas Romney, The Mormon Colonies in Mexico, published in 1938, at about the same time that the people in this study were in their mid-adulthood.[7] This book has already been cited with previous information. Dr. Romney lived in the Mormon colonies of Chihuahua and Sonora for about twenty-five years. He wrote the book upon the suggestion of Herbert Eugene Bolton at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Romney details the story of the colonies of Sonora, Díaz, and Juárez in the 1880s and even tells of the early missionary work in Mexico City. He explains how the Mormon village system was instituted in the northern villages, with each family receiving one-and-one-fourth acres in the town and twenty acres near town for farming. This land was free. It was given to the first one hundred settlers as an incentive to attract people to come there. Dr. Romney reported that John W. Young bought 150,000 acres around Colonia Díaz to attract Mormons, and about one thousand people came by 1900.

Anthony W. Ivins, George Williams, and John Nagle were instrumental in helping the settlers who came to Sonora in 1892. Colonia Dublán was established there near a railroad. A man named Lewis Huller purchased 73,000 acres in order to start the settlement. By 1912, twelve hundred people lived there.

Dr. Romney emphasizes the role of Anthony Ivins in Mexico. As a young man, Ivins fulfilled two preaching missions to central Mexico, during which time he became intimately acquainted with the natives of Mexico and developed a love for them that was abiding. He goes on for four pages praising President Ivins, especially for his great impact on the Mexican colonies. Ivins was later called to be an LDS Apostle and then member of the First Presidency as counselor to Heber J. Grant.

Dr. Romney describes the establishment of an LDS academy in Juárez. It opened in 1897 with 291 students, Guy C. Wilson as principal, and four other teachers. The academy included nine grades. It is still in existence. All of these factors —the land, the number of settlers, and the school—give evidence that the colonies in northern Mexico were thriving when the Mexican Revolution began around 1910.

Romney concludes by describing the events that led to the Mormon exodus in 1912—the challenges to the Díaz presidency by Madero and Salazar. To that point the four thousand Mormons in Mexico had gradually gained the respect of native citizens, but the arrival of Pancho Villa in the northern region led President Junius Romney to instruct the members to leave Mexico. Many intended to return to Mexico, and some indeed did. Others continued north, and a few even settled in or near Washington County, Utah.

A more recent study is Mormons in Mexico by F. LaMond Tullis.[8] In addition to what we learned from Thomas Romney, Tullis points out that Brigham Young switched his original missionary assignment at the Mexico City area to the northern Mexico border near 1875. Oaxaca, south of Mexico City, was moderately welcoming to them, but there were some conflicts among the missionaries over Dan Jones’s leadership style. Tullis includes an issue about Dr. Plotino C. Rhodakanaty, a convert to the Church who became a substantial force in the Church. As a local leader he wanted to establish the United Order and to focus the mission on central Mexico. This controversy sank itself. The Church leaders in Utah decided to focus on the northern Mexico area and did so by appointing Anthony W. Ivins as mission president. The focus then became of founding several colonies in northern Mexico.

In 1890 President Woodruff issued the Manifesto as an answer to the 1887 Edmunds-Tucker Act, which threatened the very existence of Mormonism in the United States. The Manifesto was very unsettling to many people who were practicing polygamy. Some saw moving to Mexico as a solution to their marital situation. The inflow was symbolic. As many as six Apostles lived in the colonies in the 1880s in an attempt to avoid legal prosecution for practicing polygamy. As people flowed to the colonies, they brought skills and capital with them. Tullis suggested that there was an economic shift from communalism to capitalism.[9]

Tullis then analyzes the rise of the Mexican Revolution. He pointed out that Mexican President Díaz supported the Mormons cautiously, but he was very critical of the Indians even though the Mormons were supportive of them. Tullis also emphasized that most Mexicans hated the United States for stealing their lands in the Mexican War, exporting their oil, and supporting President Díaz, who was rapidly losing popularity. The revolutionaries against Díaz came into the Mormon colonies seeking food and supplies, but they did not intend to kill the Mormons. Nonetheless, the Mormons were in a no-win situation because they were such a small minority and because they were foreigners. Tullis details the many conflicts between the Mormons and the revolutionaries and the central government in 1912, and readers can quickly sympathize with stake president Junius Romney, who ordered the evacuation that led most Mormons into the United States as refugees.

A significant study was made by Bill Smith called Impacts of the Mexican Revolution: The Mormon Experience, 1910–1946.[10] He pointed out that both the Mexican government and the Mormons were thinking of creating settlements in northern Mexico. Some Mormons were trying to escape from federal antipolygamy laws. They saw northern Mexico as a sensible site.

The Díaz government in Mexico City was concerned that the state of Texas might try to expand into northern Mexico. They had visited Salt Lake City and were impressed. They did not limit themselves to Catholicism. They had already invited Protestants to Mexico. In 1879 the Díaz government sent an invitation for Mormons to move to Mexico. Díaz liked the Mormons once they came. They were industrious and paid their taxes. Smith pointed out that most Mormons in the Chihuahua colonies specialized in agriculture, but some developed industries and sales outlets. The Catholic press attacked polygamy, but the Díaz regime equated it with concubinage, which they ignored. He also tells of Mormon efforts in central Mexico, which irritated the LDS Church leaders in Salt Lake City. Those leaders shifted LDS priorities from central to northern Mexico, although missionary efforts continued in Mexico City.

Díaz had been Mexico’s president for several terms. In 1910 he was challenged by Francisco Madero. Díaz was pronounced the winner in a questionable tally. That stirred many liberals to rally around Madero and begin a revolution. Much of the military action occurred in northern Mexico where Pancho Villa led rebels. At first the Mormons felt they could avoid the conflict because Díaz was favorable to them, but eventually they decided to flee to the nearby US border because of Pancho Villa.

These excellent studies will help current readers understand why Mormons fled Mexico and came north, some then being interviewed in their new home in southern Utah or nearby by Fielding H. Harris and included in this study. Those interviewed were largely children in 1910. When they settled in the United States, the children did not become polygamists, but many of them had polygamist parents. There were nearly two thousand who fled the colonies. They settled all over the Mormon Corridor. A few families chose to come to Utah’s Dixie, especially on the Arizona Strip and Long Valley. Here are their words.


James Bundy

James Bundy was born on 13 October 1887, in Wallace, Lincoln County, Nebraska, but came to southern Utah with his parents. He was well known during his later life there on the Arizona Strip, but as a youth he lived in Old Mexico and married his wife, Chloe Geneva Van Leuven, in the Mormon colonies. He tells many stories about farming and ranching and working in mines and smelters before their escape back to the United States because of the Mexican Revolution.

He was a real storyteller. Here is a short account: “When we went to Mexico, we stopped at Naco, Arizona. Dad had a job freighting there to raise a little money to go on to the colony. He drove one team, and I drove the other [team]. We hauled supplies out to Canenea [north, in Sonora, Mexico, below the border]. It was about fifty miles from Naco. I was not yet fourteen [years old]. I saw twenty mules hooked onto one wagon; they used big, old wagons. I do not know why they were built [like they were]. I would say the rear wheels were six feet in diameter. They would hook up as many as ten mules; they were what they usually put on those wagons. When one of them got stuck, they would bring back another team of ten mules to pull them out of the mud. They were Mexicans mostly [who] drove those outfits.

“They were hauling supplies out to the mining camp and hauling ore back to the smelter. They did not have a smelter. I do not know what they [did] with the ore when they got it to Naco, [which was] twenty miles further east. Naco and Douglas were on the Arizona–Mexico border. The ore [from] Bisbee, Arizona, was hauled to the smelter, but [the] ore brought out of Canenea, Mexico, was before that smelter was built. [It] was likely shipped up to Globe [Arizona] or Tombstone [Arizona] or wherever they had a smelter.

“After we had been there from April to October, Dad [came down with] typhoid fever, and he could not go [on, so] Roy and Lillie [Belle] went with me with [the] other outfit. I always drove one outfit. I think we only made one trip, and then Roy [came down with] typhoid fever. I can remember sleeping on a little cot with Roy. When he was delirious, he would sit up in bed and pound on me trying to drive horses. [Omer] Dick [Bundy], my younger brother, Lillie [Belle], Roy and Dad [had] typhoid fever, but I never [did]. After they [were able to] travel, we started for the colony. We [arrived] down [at] Colony [Morelos] on October 13, 1901, the day I was fourteen years old. My brother Chester was born that night.

“The Van Leuvens’ place was the first place we [came] to as we [came] into the mesquite bushes. The country [area] was covered with mesquite [bushes]. They lived in what [was] called a jucal [mud and wattle construction] made out of posts. [They would] stand posts on end and place creosote—no, what do they call wild cane? It is a bamboo cane they put over the rafters and throw dirt over the top of that to build a home.

“We had a tent when we [arrived] in the colony. It was on a Sunday afternoon, and after church they pitched a tent. They all [came] to help, and my [future] wife’s sister came down to wait on Mother and do the housework. They teased [my] dad about going to Mexico to get a polygamous wife, but he never got [one].

“I went to school down [in Mexico] because it was a habit more than to get an education. In the summertime, I would go to Bisbee [Arizona] and work. I started working as a tool nipper first and afterwards I got a job mucking. . . . I would go back to Mexico and work in the summer and go out to the colony and go to school to be home and among the school [youngsters] more than for an education. I am sorry to say [that]. One of the dollars would buy me four dance tickets!

“I told you [that] the first job I had away from home to earn any money was washing dishes in a survey camp. The survey camp came down there to survey the railroad [that was] laying out a track to run down to Montezuma, Mexico. It was supposed to come down through the colony, but it was never laid. That was the first job I ever had where I drew any money. I [was paid] $35 a month. Our meals were furnished, but we had to carry a roll of bedding. We had a tent to sleep in. I came back home and [went] where there were rails, but not with the survey camp. They disbanded about thirty miles from the railroad.

“I never took any of the girls serious. I would go out with one girl one night and go out with another the next night. I never took any girls serious until after I quit school and went out to Bisbee, Arizona, to the mining camp. Chloe Geneva Van Leuven Bundy came out there, and that was when I really settled on her. A judge in Bisbee married us [on] August 23, 1909. [We] stayed there and [I] worked for about a year. Then we went back to the colony.

“When our fourth child was born, the little girl, was when the rebels came and ordered the colony out. The [people] all came out, but some of them went back in. We had some grain in the bin, and we had about a dozen head of cattle. I bought Dad’s brand, and that is what I gathered up. We had about a dozen head of them, but by the time they went back in there, the rebels went on through [the area]. They would have hauled the grain out, but the local Mexicans had moved the grain from our bins to their bins. When I went to gather the cattle, I do not remember just what they got, but I got thirty-one dollars in American money for what cattle I had down there. We loaded up and moved out to Mount Trumbull [on the Arizona Strip].”[11]

John Jensen

Here is a short memory of leaving Mexico by John Jensen, son of John Christian Jensen, who was born in Denmark. He and his wife, Abigail Christina Abbott, were married on 24 November 1909 and had fourteen children. He tells about his father in Mexico. “We were just lucky. My stepdaddy had all kinds of offers. [President Porfirio] Díaz was the ruler. Dad could [speak the] Indian and Mexican [languages]. He learned those languages. He [Díaz] wanted him to come up and offered him all kinds of [things] to run a big ranch that he had there. In those times, they [had] people working for them and they would peon them [use them as unskilled labor]. They would get them in debt to them, and they would not let them off. Daddy said, ‘No, I am afraid you will get me peoned and I never could get away.’ He [Díaz] promised that he would not, but Dad would not take it. We moved out of there just before that trouble started.”[12]

Miriam Adelia Cox Wilson Riding

Miriam Adelia Cox Wilson Riding was born on 18 August 1878 in Fairview, Sanpete County. She spent a period of her life in Mexico, and that is where she married her first husband, David Johnson Wilson, on 1 July 1895. She had seven children by him and four by her second husband, Franklin Dobel Riding, whom she married after Wilson died. Her interview gives some insightful information: “I was in school one afternoon [in Mexico] and our bishop came to the schoolhouse and asked if I could come out. The teacher said I could, so I went out. He told me about a good man, [and] he thought I ought to pay attention to him. He gave me a lot of good words, good information at that time. So the children wouldn’t ask me what he talked about, he had some mowing machine knives for my father to put on his mowing machine. I never had seen him [Wilson]. He lived in Colonia Díaz [Chihuahua, Mexico]. He came to our place and asked father’s permission and visited. He was very kind, very nice, a good honorable man. Father told him that I was the only housekeeper he had. I was seventeen then or just about, [and] he couldn’t spare me.

“So [David Johnson] Wilson knew of a widow, [and] he thought it would be good for her and Father to meet. Father said if she would come and stay for a couple of weeks and see about it, he would pay her for working for us for two weeks. Brother Wilson brought this widow to our home. After two weeks was [over], Father sent me to town with the wagon to get the bishop. The bishop came over, this lady made a cake, and they were married. She was Belinda [Marden] Kendrick Rowley. Kendrick was her maiden name. She was from England. She was a widow and had two children. [Her] little girl had the same name I did. Father sent me and Victor with her back to Colonia Díaz to get her things. She was a plural wife, and her husband had a big family.”

Mariah Delila Van Leuven Alldredge

Mariah Delila Van Leuven Alldredge was quoted in the chapter about health and sickness, but she also had a good story to tell about Mexico. She was born on 11 November 1882, in Aurora, Sevier County, Utah: “My father [was] wearisome about his farming and thought he could do better by becoming a school teacher. He was always educated highly. So he went to the normal school to get a diploma to teach in school. He had to mortgage our home and the farm to do this. Things didn’t turn out like he planned it to be. He [received] his diploma for teaching and taught for a while. It wasn’t so successful, and we were about to lose our home. So he sold it and we went to Mexico. We had relatives down there, and some of them had come back and put [talked] things up so beautiful to him that he [had] the Mexico fever. He had two families, and he thought by going down there he could take both his families down there and live with them in Mexico. He served four months in the penitentiary for the other wife. We went down, but it was forty years before I ever saw my other brothers and sisters.

“We had quite a hard time of it. We had some relatives in [Colonia] Dublán. That was where we headed first. We went to the custom house [at the state] line [in Deming]. You had to go through the custom house to [cross] from the United States to Mexico. We were there for two weeks waiting for President Ivins to come and help us through. We couldn’t have [gone] through without him being there to help us with the Mexican [Consulate]. He eventually came and [took] us through, and we went on. Father [had] chartered a freight car for our furniture and horses and [other possessions]. My two brothers went with them, and then Father chartered a car [on a passenger train] for the family to go in. We [arrived at] Deming, and that is where we [stayed] for two weeks. Then we went on to [Colonia] Dublán. Mother’s cousin lived there—a wonderful family. He used to be our bishop in Aurora and was a wonderful man. So we went there and stayed awhile. Then [we went to Mother’s] brother and sister who were living over in [Colonia] Galeana.

“Harry Paine was the bishop’s name. His wife [Ruth] was my mother’s cousin. Her brothers and sisters lived over in Galeana. My aunt Chloe [Geneva] was sent there and my uncle, Edmund [and Ellen Durfee and Celestia Spencer] and their families. So we went over there. We thought we would go over and see what we would find there. When we [came] over there, we didn’t like the situation, so we only lived there a couple of months and came back to [Colonia] Dublán again. Father [bought] a lot there. We lived in a tent and wagon covers until they [made] homemade adobe [bricks] and made us a four-room house. We were happy to get moved into that house.

“When we lived there, it was hard. There was no wood in the country. All the wood that was there was just fine, little mesquite trees about as big as your finger. That was what we had to feed our stoves and do our cooking and baking and all. It was quite a tedious job [as the wood was] full of thorns and slivers. So that was discouraging. The land we had was fertile, very fertile, but there wasn’t enough water, and we couldn’t obtain enough water. Father and the boys dug a well, and he made a wooden pump, mind you. It had a great big long handle on it that you pumped the water out. Then he made troughs to catch the water in [to flow] out onto our garden. We pumped the water out of that well and watered our garden. We had a lovely garden. We even made a strawberry patch. Oh, the lovely strawberries, great big strawberries! You could hardly put one in your mouth without mashing it! They were so large and delicious. It was lovely. Everything grew there just wonderfully well.

“[We needed] water and wood. There wasn’t enough water. I don’t know what the people are doing now for water. I believe they are building more wells, but I’m not sure. It was big open country. My, how the wind would blow down there, too!

“We heard about [the] country over in Sonora, [and] what wonderful wood they had over there. So my father and mother [went] in our little buggy and took a trip over to [Colonia] Morelos, Mexico, to Sonora, to see what the country was. They fell in love with it because they could keep warm over there. They could make a fire to keep warm. The wood was gorgeous all over the land, great big trees, great big round trees that were just cut down. It looked good to us! So he bought a lot there. They turned around and came back and sold our home, and we moved to [Colonia] Morelos. We were there several years. No matter where we went, it wasn’t long until—if you are active in the Church you don’t have to be one place very long until you have more [positions] than you can take care of. I wasn’t there long until they pulled me in as secretary there. Then I served as counselor in MIA.

“The Mexican [rebellion started in about 1910]. The Mexicans started fighting there, and they were taking everything. The insurrectionists were taking everything that they came to. They would kill and take your property away from you. They were led by Pancho Villa. We had to get out. The President of the United States [William Howard Taft] and [the President of] our Church advised the people all to leave. That is why we left. We thought it was going to be a short time and we could go back and obtain our homes again. But it never did. People in Dublán and [Juárez] did go back in. They have quite good colonies down there now, I think. But the [people from Colonia] Díaz never did return. The people over in our country, [Colonia] Morelos [in] the north country, none of them ever went back there to live. They just dilapidated the whole country. The Mexicans kept the farms and houses.”[13]

Thomas Eagar

Thomas Eagar was born in 1898 in Eagar, Arizona. He spent his boyhood in Colonia Morales, Mexico, and shared his experiences in his interview in 1968 in St. George, Utah: “They moved [when] I was two years old. I don’t remember much about when we crossed the line into Old Mexico. We moved sixty miles over the line. The Mexican government sold ground to the Mormon people for settlement. There had been ranchers and Mexicans living there. The [Mormon] families came in quite rapidly, quite a few at a time. As they came in, they were assigned some of [the] old houses to live in. We happened to join up with some neighbors by the name of Ray.

“We liked the Mexican people, and we paid no attention to all these quarrels. It was a forced issue. They said we had to either join the [Mexican] Army or move out. All the young men had to [join] the army. That was what the big quarrel was about. You had to give them everything you grew. We were coming from the field one night. We [had] taken our horses up two miles to the field. We were coming back from hunting quail. We watched 20,000 soldiers go down the other road. We were up on the foothills. There was a cut-off road up there that we used to drive the horses to the fields. We were sitting there. There were a lot of quail in that country. There were millions of them. All at once, there was a bunch of soldiers [who] came around the point, right onto us. The first thing that I [thought] about was running. I ran into some thick brush, and they hollered, ‘Halt!’ My brother stopped. He had the gun. He was seven years older than I was. He stopped, but not me. I ran into the brush. They told him that they were going in after me if he didn’t get me back out. I let him plead a little while, and then I came out.

“They wanted the gun, but when they saw that it was a shotgun, they finally decided that he could keep it. They just turned us loose. I [was] up to almost fourteen. I had to take most of the horses to the field and back. [My dad] gave me a little mare. She was a mean little brute, but I thought that she was the best little critter that ever lived. She used to throw me off. I would get on her and start for the field, but I was always walking when I got there! The same thing [would happen] when I got on her [in] the field. I would be walking when I got back to town! That was the first year. Then one day Dad said, ‘I will break her for you.’ He got on her, and I had never seen him ride harder in my life. And he was a cowboy! He got on that little mare, and finally she got out into the middle of the canal, and how she would buck. He pulled out all the leather there was to hold on to that mare because he didn’t want to get wet.

“I was riding her [one] night. I got so I could ride her. I thought that I could ride anything on earth that had hair on it! These soldiers hollered, ‘Kin Vivi.’ I was supposed to tell them who I was in favor of, which side [I was on]. If I had just said ‘Muchacho,’ that meant ‘a boy,’ and [they] would let me go. I dug that little mare. I thought that I could outrun them, and so I took for home. I guess several hundred men were yelling after me. By the time I [came] home, my dad [was] there. He had heard the ruckus, and guessed what it was. He [had] the gate down, and I just went around the granary. Of course, the soldiers were there in just a minute. But I repented quickly. He lectured me strong enough that night. I didn’t run from soldiers no more! It is a wonder they didn’t shoot me. That was their duty. If it had been an American soldier, they would have shot me for running. I don’t understand it yet why they didn’t shoot me. If there were any shots fired, I didn’t get in on them. I was going too fast.

“Just not [long] after that, my brother, [William] ‘Will’ [Nutter] Hinton, had a little brown mare. She was the best little racer you ever saw. We had her in this field. A Mexican, or somebody, came in and got on a mare, and [left]. Will got on a sorrel horse and took after him. When he [went] up to Cucha Verche, which is seventeen miles away from home, [a fellow in a] house up on the hill said the soldiers were coming after him. [The horse] was still running. Will knew he couldn’t catch the little mare. He thought that maybe the people at the house on the hill knew the mare and maybe they would stop them. They didn’t, so he turned around and came back. He knew that he couldn’t catch her, because she was long-winded.

“We had a big melon patch that year. We grew lots of melons, and lots of peanuts. We grew lots of everything [that could be] grown in Mexico. We would sell these melons. If [the melons] weren’t ripe, they would eat them anyhow. Dad taught even the younger [children] that dorealis were two bits [twenty-five cents]. These little brothers and sisters of mine would say ‘dirty Alice.’ And they would give them a quarter and would pick their own melon. My dad’s last family was all little fellows. They could remember ‘dirty Alice.’

“Before we left there, my brother Will and I dug a big hole and buried all of our treasures. We have never been there after them yet. I think some of them would be in good condition. We put lots of [items] in glass bottles. They would be good. It has only been sixty years. There is one thing that I would like to have, and that is my mother’s reader.

“My mother just knew how to work. She wasn’t what you would call a foxy cook, but when the Church started, they told her she was the best cook they had ever had. That is [when] they would come to our place. We ran President Ivins’s cattle, so he was there quite a bit. Thomas [Romney] was there quite a bit, [and] Pancho Villa was there quite a bit. He was a great big, good-natured Mexican. He was a nice guy to talk to. He would do anything for us. According to standards nowadays, you would say that he was an ignorant Mexican. He wasn’t a diplomat. That is why he made that one mistake about going into the United States to get horses and vittles. Of course, he took a bunch of wild Mexicans in there. We don’t know whether that was done by his orders or not. I saw one of his lieutenants in Las Vegas in 1956. He said that was not done by Villa’s order. Villa was blamed for it [because] he was with them. They went over there and were going to buy [items], and instead they robbed, stole, and killed. We never thought anything very bad about him or any of [those] other generals. They treated us nice.”[14]

Doretta Marie Iverson Bundy

Doretta Marie Iverson Bundy was born on 1 December 1887 in Washington City and married Roy Bundy on 5 September 1907. Shortly after their marriage, they moved to the Colonia Morelos, Sonora, Mexico: “My husband’s brother [James Bundy] had bought a lot or a block [of land]. It had a small two-room rock house. One room had adobes put down or brick for a floor, the other didn’t have [anything] but loose dirt. I made a hard floor out of [it] with a little water. It had poles across the top and reed canes and dirt on that. [There were] not any windows. It had a fireplace.

“It was kind of tough, but my husband got work to buy household furniture; we didn’t have much of that. My dishes were kind of laughable. My mother-in-law [Ella Anderson Bundy] was a very nice lady. She went with me to the store to get utensils to use. I remember I bought two or three granite iron plates, white plates, and old metal knives and forks. I bought a couple of them and spoons. I had a frying pan, so you see I didn’t have very [many] dishes. I remember my mother-in-law felt kind of embarrassed. She was well-acquainted with the storekeepers; but she said I was a very saving girl and I didn’t have any more money to spend. She gave me a dozen chickens, and we traded the phonograph for a cow! My father-in-law [Abraham Bundy] was quite a gardener, and he [grew an] early garden [of] peas, onions, and radishes. I would help the girls pick the peas in the morning. People would come there and buy [peas] for dinner.

“I remember we didn’t have any refrigerators down there. Nothing [was] very convenient, but there was a piece of brick out of the wall that left a little cupboard. I had a curtain hung up [over] that. I remember one day I had a bowl of peas left after dinner so I put it in the cupboard. In the afternoon, I decided I would have a dish of peas. I took a dish full of peas and started eating them. I remembered I didn’t have any pepper. After I had eaten a bit, I noticed some little black specks in [it] and I looked closer and [there] were little fly worms. They hatch in a hurry! I guess [for] twenty years I couldn’t eat or stand to look at peas.

“Mexico was a wonderful country. [We stayed] about four or five years. [We left] because of the trouble with the revolution in Mexico. We had plenty of meat because my husband would go in the hills anytime and get a deer. [Or he] would go up the river and come back with a sack full of fish. He used to love to do that. He would get his horse, take a couple of gunnysacks, go up the river, and come home with [fish]. He would scatter fish all along coming home. He gave to everybody. So we all fared well. There was a mine, the El Tigre Mine [in Sonora, Mexico], that was up in the mountains. [It was] twenty-five or thirty miles [from our home]. He got a job up there.

“One day my sister-in-law [Chloe Geneva Van Leuven Bundy] said, ‘Let’s go visit them up in the mine.’ Her brother, Lafayette Van Leuven, got horses and took us up there. It was a hard ride [up a] steep mountain dugway. . . . When we were ready to [come] back, my husband said he didn’t have any idea that we could make it up there. ‘How about coming back up and staying this winter?’ Of course, I had to come home and get clothes and my little boy that I had left with my mother. I came back up. I lived in a big, long apartment house. There [were] Mexicans [who] lived in those rooms. I had two rooms by myself, and I made friends with the Mexican ladies. They were very nice and treated me fine. They would bring me in some of their Christmas cookies, and I would give them some of mine.

“Then the revolution broke out down there. I don’t remember what year that was. When they started fighting, we could see the main part of town a mile up the canyon. We could see the rebels on one side and the others on the other side, and we could hear their shooting, firing back and forth.

“My husband had a spyglass and [went] out [to] the woodpile and laid there and watched it. They came to get what they could out of the mine. They built bricks after they separated the gold out. They made one-hundred-pound bricks. When the fighting started, they took these bricks and threw [them] into a big tank of water to hide from the rebels. The rebels came down and got all the provisions they wanted out of the store. A local Mexican told them where they put the brick. They ran the cyanide water all out on the ground down the canyon and got the brick, but they had no way to haul it out, only by burro. Two bricks were almost too heavy for a little burro and one [brick] wouldn’t stay on [the burro]. In the rush to get out of the steep canyon they [were rushing] the burros, and months later they found where [the burros had] wandered off in the canyon and died with the bricks on their back.

“I was there for a couple of weeks [afterwards]. I was the only white woman there. The bishop in Morelos (that was the town we lived in) sent horses up there [and said] I better come home with him. When I came up there I had the two children, one in my arms and one on the back of the horse on the saddle. When he [Ivan] would get sleepy, Brother McCall would take him on his horse. The people in Morelos were looking for the rebels to come into town. They wanted my husband to stay up there and work and bring word down when it looked like they were coming our way. He stayed there, but the rebels came in from a [different] direction. They came into town and made our church and schoolhouse their headquarters. They would kill a cow right on the street [in the] churchyard.

“They were a decent bunch of soldiers. They would go around town buying eggs, butter, meat, and bread. I remember one day a soldier came to my place. He had a brand-new rifle that had [been] smuggled across the line. He was quite proud of it. [He] had a belt [that went] up here and round there. [It was] full of cartridges. He showed me his gun and how fast he could throw the shells out, and then he passed [the gun] to me. He thought I would be scared and run, but I took his gun and I threw [cartridges] out as fast as he [did]! He praised me. We tried to be congenial with them and tried to not be afraid because you didn’t want to be afraid.

“The people in Colonia Morelos were not safe. President [O. P.] Brown was in Douglas, Arizona, and was to send us word when it was advisable to move out. There were people with their horses hitched up, ready to leave. Brother Brown told my husband that if he stayed up there he would see that his family [was] moved to town. We [received] word we were to leave and everybody was ready. We [went] just a little ways out the first night [and then were gone].”[15]

Alta Rowley Perkins Wilcox

Alta Rowley Perkins Wilcox was born on 28 October 1900 in Colonia Díaz, Chihuahua, Mexico. She was one of thirteen children. One of the children died at birth while they were traveling to Mexico and was buried beside the road. Some of her schooling was in Mexico. She remembers mostly the problems with the rebels: “I don’t remember much about [my teachers] in Mexico. There were other things I was more interested in. I remember the trouble they were having with the Mexicans all the time. I remember one time we were coming home from school and someone said the rebels were coming. We got under a bridge [over] the ditch, and they ran over the top of us. We [could] hear the clatter of the horses going over the top!

“They used to come into town and pick out the best horses and take them. Dad had lots of good horses, and he always took good care of them. He had one that was special to him. [There was] an old lime kiln that [was] used to burn lime in, and he took his horse down there and threw hay over him to hide [the horse] from the Mexicans so they wouldn’t take him. No one tried to stop them from taking the horses. I think they were afraid to [do that]. There were more Mexicans than there were white people. They had two or three skirmishes, and one man was killed.

“These men were under the leadership of Pancho Villa, and they were stealing, taking everything they could lay their hands on, and shooting up the place. Before we left, the schoolhouse bell was kept quiet so that [it] could [be] used as a signal [for] all the men [to] come to the church house. Sunday morning about six o’clock the bell rang. All the men got up, dressed, and went to the schoolhouse to see what the trouble was. A man had ridden from the town of Dublán, all night on horseback, to tell them that the rebels were headed [our] way to set fire to the town. We were to be out of town by ten o’clock that morning. We hadn’t had breakfast. [Some of] the women and [children] were still in bed. The men came home and gathered up what they could in four hours without having their breakfast. In six hours [they] gathered their teams and wagons together and met outside the town in wagon boxes. We [went] to Hachita, Mexico. That first night it rained on us all night, it just poured down. Everybody [was] in wagon boxes.

“Most of them had covers [blankets], and a lot of them had tents that they pitched. I remember Dad pitched a tent. [We] had a folding cot, and my grandmother slept in the tent on the folding cot. Mother [was] in the wagon box with [the children]. I don’t think Dad went to bed. He stayed up all night to keep us from being washed away! It was in July. I don’t remember enough to know. It just happened to [storm, and] it really rained on us. A bunch of older boys were left [in Colonia Díaz] to look after things in case [the rebels] didn’t come. They [were] to keep the stock fed and take care of things in town. But [the rebels] came and shot at the boys and chased them clear across the border. [They] shot one boy’s horse out from under him. He got on another close by. My older brother, Claude, was one of the boys that stayed. He was sixteen years old. [The rebels] came and set fire to the town and burned it down. [They] shot the eyes out of the pictures on the walls. First [they] destroyed everything they could. If you go there now, you can still see [the ruins].

“We stopped in Hachita and [stayed] in tents. The government put up tents and [gave food] rations for a while until people could gather their senses together and decide what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go. They thought they could go back in a few days, but it turned [out] they couldn’t. The town was burned down, so there was nothing to go back to. They [stayed] there and waited, deciding where they wanted to go. Dad had [a] brother in Tucson, [Arizona], so he decided to go [there]. The government charged him fifty dollars a head [for] duty on his own horses, and he was still an American citizen. He raised his horses from colts, most of them, [and] they charged him fifty dollars a head [for] duty to get them across the line. He had to [find] somebody to [set up] his bond because he didn’t have [the money for] his bond. He went to Tucson.

“My mother lived in a tent and cooked on a campfire until [he] sent the money back to pay for the horses. [He] paid the bill off, [and] then we moved into a house that a Mexican family had moved out of in Tucson. Dad worked on a big ranch [where they] raised all kinds of grain. He was there quite a while and [became] foreman of the [ranch]. They called it Rolling Hills, [and] he was foreman. They used a lot of horses and mules and he was good with [them].

“But there wasn’t church there [so] that we could go to Sunday School. We were going to school with more Mexicans in Tucson than we went with in Mexico. Dad and Mother weren’t satisfied with it, so they saved their money, all they could. Dad was making pretty good money for those times. They paid in twenty-dollar gold pieces. Mother had a little baking powder can, and every nickel left over, every twenty dollars she could get ahold of that she didn’t have to have, she would drop in this can, enough to move on. When the can [was] full, they decided they had enough to buy hay, grain, and food for [all] of us.

“[Dad] had a sister that had gone to Blanding from Mexico. Blanding was just a new town [and] hadn’t been settled very long. She wrote and told him that she would host him. So we went to Blanding. [We were] thirty days and nights on the road.”[16]

Annie Eagar Covington

Here is a story of a polygamous family that had to leave Mexico but continued to maintain more than one family with grave difficulties. Annie Eagar Covington tells of their Mexican experiences in Colonia Morales: “We went on, [and] nothing happened on our trip into Morelos, Sonora, Mexico, that I know of. Everything went well until we [arrived] there. Down in there is a wild country. The Mexicans were starting to build up [the] little town of Morelos. This is the place my father headed for. He had that all spotted. They put my mother in a mud house that the Mexicans had built. That was all they had. We lived in there, and the girls got lice in their hair from the Mexicans’ house. Oh, my mother about died! I will never forget how she would have to hunt for lice. My father built a house and got us into it. It was just a Mexican house like the other one. We lived there. For a year we didn’t have food. My father couldn’t [grow] anything. He had a truck, but there was nothing [grown]. We didn’t have much to eat. He had wheat that he had taken down there and we would have to grind it [in] the coffee mills. My mother had eleven children, and he was gone most of the time.

“We didn’t have any bread to eat. We had potatoes, but Father didn’t plant fruit trees. They didn’t know what fruit was down [there] in those days. Finally, there was a man [who] came through the country and stopped there. [He] decided to move in and live there. His name was Wilson. He put up a mill of some kind that you could run with a horse. It would grind wheat [so we] could make bread. Oh boy, we thought we had it! We had some bread. We didn’t have to grind on that old mill anymore.

“We never had any sickness. I remember the women and children were crying because the mill was afire. The mill burned to the ground. Somebody burned the mill to the ground. Here we were again, having to eat coarse bread until they could build another mill.

“Then we [were doing] good again, and my father had a farm down close to this big river. He had a field by [the river] and a big chicken coop there [for his] chickens. He had quite a lot of grain and had a big crop planted. That flood just cleaned it right out. My mother sat there in [the] chicken coop there trying to protect all the chickens in that coop. She wasn’t going to leave there. They had to get her on a raft and take her out of there. She was going to stay there and go down the river! We all went up on the hill because it looked like [the water] was coming to demolish the town. My mother sat on the edge of the hill. That night we slept in the schoolhouse because the whole town [was] nearly covered with water.

“Then my father decided he wanted to ranch. So he got a ranch. We called it Uncle Sixtus’s Ranch. One of my uncles had it [earlier]. He wasn’t really my uncle, but he was always called Uncle Sixtus, and the ranch was named after him. My father got it, and we lived there a year. We raised a big crop there. That was when my father decided he wanted to get another wife. A man came into the country with four girls. They were all old maids. One married the bishop, one [Emily Jane Lee Eagar] married my father, and one married the bishop’s brother. The other married a Romney from up in the mountains.

“I remember one time my father went after a lot of our cattle, and horses were stolen when they were starting the war. My father took the boys and went out to hunt [for the animals]. He was gone for a day. When he didn’t come home, I remember, my mother and my aunt were pacing the floor and crying and crying. They just knew the Mexicans had killed them. Finally, [my father and brothers] came [home], and they were not hurt. They had their animals.

“My mother was usually alone a lot of the time because my father would go down in town and stay with the other wife because she was a pretty young girl. One night another flood came down the canyon. We could hear the roaring of the flood. It was getting dark. My mother ran in the house and told us all to come in. She barred the door with some boxes, a chest or two that she had, and put the table over against it. Then she put some of the bedding up there and told all of us children to get up on that and pray. She climbed up there, and we all sat around on that [pile] praying. That wall of water hit that house, and [it] went right down. It hit the door and went down through the windows and doors; it went everywhere. We just clung to the walls. The next morning I got up, and everything we had was gone. We spent the morning picking up our clothes and everything we had. My mother went back to town, and we lived in a home there.

“One night, Mother wanted to get to the bottom of this thing. My mother brought me over to the neighbors. We knew there was a war. All around us was trouble. Somehow or another, it didn’t bother any of us. We didn’t realize anything had ever happened. My aunt [Emily Jane Lee Eagar] had died and left five little children and nobody to take care of them. The baby wasn’t even named when her mother died. She died soon after the child was born. My father got a little place and put me [there] to take care of these children because I was closer to my mother. He and she just didn’t get along and had separated. So I took my father’s children, and I was taking care of them.

“All at once I could see an army coming. It just scared me terribly, and I ran as hard as I could go for my mother and took these little [children]. My mother wasn’t home. The soldiers came right in. They just threw my father’s [place apart]. He had his crops all in; there was fruit on the trees. They had watermelons. These Mexicans just turned their horses into everything. They did that with every house. I was so frightened to see so many and to see they went through everything we had. . . . I went around the corner of the house to get my mother because I was afraid to stay all alone with all these little children. I just [went] around the house and ran into a great big [Mexican] officer! He laughed. I pushed him just as hard as I could push him. I crawled through the fence and ran for Mother. My mother came home. I was twelve years old. I had started taking care of those little children all alone. I took care of them all the time she was sick, too.

“My mother just came home, and we stayed in the house and minded our business and they [the soldiers] minded theirs. They didn’t often do anything to us. They stayed for a solid month in that town. They put a cannon right over our house and another one on the schoolhouse steps. They [prepared] for battle. They spent their time marching up and down the streets and all through the bushes.

“We were in communication with the church authorities all the time. They were telling what to do. Some wanted us to come out, but the bishop couldn’t stand to leave his mill, store, and all of his property, so he said, ‘Stay.’ He kept staying, and we didn’t know any minute when we would be killed. The men would leave town to be out to catch the other army. If we did have to leave, we would leave at a minute’s notice.

“One night we [received] word to get out of there and get out of there quick because there was no time to monkey [around]. I remember all men were off on guard duty. They were all scattered all through the country. My brothers, Thomas and Lee, took one team and harnessed it up. We put all of my things [and] these five little children I was raising into this wagon. My brothers drove it. My mother’s two oldest boys had come out there. The oldest boy had died of pneumonia in Mexico. The other two boys had already come out [earlier] and were living here. My mother had my brother Will out here. He was the only one of the Hinton children [who] stayed with her.

“We left and we [came] to this first big river. It was raining. It was a pitch black night and just pouring down—raining and raining. The women and children were all crying. My mother was sick. We camped out as far as we could go the first night. It rained all night and we just sat there. My brother Walt always said the only place he had to sit was right in the water. It trickled right down his back and all night long went down his backbone. We couldn’t sleep, and there were just women and crying children because they were leaving their home and everything they [owned]. We didn’t know what was in store for us.

“The next night we camped at this big river, and it was swollen [by] so much storm. My mother was [very] sick. She was really sick that night. There was still wailing and crying. The bishop [received] word that they had entered Morelos. There were 5,000 soldiers [who] had entered Morelos, and they were fighting. They had left two women there because they didn’t have a wagon [or any] way of bringing them and their children and [the women] were pregnant. They jumped on horses and went back and got them out in the night. They sneaked them out of there. These women had been hiding, and they brought them out.

“The [United States] government knew that we were coming. There were 150 families that they knew were coming. They told them to put up tents for 150 families, a little tent community, [in] Douglas, Arizona. We [came] there. We were there all day in that boiling hot sun, trying to get through. They had to examine every wagon and everything. They would almost strip you to see that you were not hiding anything. You couldn’t take any ammunition across. My father had a place; he would always hide all of his guns in the willows.

“We crossed over the river the next day and went on. When we got into La Prieta we were there all day long getting through those two custom houses. [As we left], they gave each family a tent to live in and water was piped along every so often. Twice a week there would be big government wagons with two spans, four mules to a big government wagon, loaded with food. They would bring it there, but it only [had] beans and potatoes, just what we were used to. We weren’t used to anything better. That was good. We were really living! We also had [items] I had never seen before. We [never] had any fruit. We hadn’t ever seen any, so it didn’t matter. The first apricot I ever saw was after I came out of Mexico.

“We stayed in our tents in Douglas a month. They would come twice a week, and we would have to take our pans, go out, and they would dole us out enough food to last until the next time they came. This went on a month until the government could decide what to do with us. Finally, the officers came and told us that if we wanted to save our outfits and go with teams and wagons, they would give us papers showing that we were Mexican refugees. [Or] we could go by train to where we had to go. My mother wanted to come here [to Utah] because her people were here. She had a little family. Her youngest little girl [Hazel] lives over at Toquerville and was about three years old. She doesn’t remember anything about Mexico. [Mother] came here to her people. The day that she left, my father wanted to go and see the family off. They were still his children. He told me to stay by with the other little family while he went [to] see my mother off. That was the hardest part of my life. I didn’t think I would ever bawl. But I did cry when I had to stay there alone and couldn’t go and see them go. I never saw them [until] a good many years after that.

“They came here to Hurricane. ‘Will,’ my brother, built my mother a home and she came here [to] live [with] her little family. I went with my father to Arizona. He wanted to save his animals, so two other families went with us.”[17]

Omer Dick Bundy

Omer Dick Bundy, born 30 November 1891, gives a boyhood experience in the revolution: “This revolution started down in interior Mexico and gradually came up to the border. Pancho Villa and his generals came into the colonies in Chihuahua. They didn’t treat them too badly over there. One or two men were killed over at Colonia Díaz. It wasn’t anything like lots of things that were going on in the armies now. Even though they were rough-looking men, they still respected our American women. You have to give them credit for that.

“President [William Howard] Taft of the United States and President Joseph F. Smith of the Church advised us to leave. The women and the children and lots of the men left. Nineteen of us young fellows stayed down there with the hope that the Federals were going to come around on the train.”

Bundy goes on for several pages, telling of their adventures hiding from the armies of rebels who wanted their guns, ammunition, and saddles. Bundy and his friends had many close calls but were able to evade them. “We went down through that canyon and nobody disturbed us. We headed for the Arizona line. [We were] about eighteen miles from it, down in a mass of mesquite. It was afternoon by this time and we were quite hungry. Dave knew there was a ranch over there. We decided to go over there and see if we could buy some jerky and some corn that they had. We went over there and found three more of our men. The Mexicans were friendly to us. They knew some of our men. They told us, ‘Don’t go up the valley.’ You could see the railroad bridges. They were built down in Mexico. They made the little bridges out of timber, big beams across small washes. The rebels had gone ahead of us and set them all afire. We could see through there for about fifteen miles.

“There were three of us when we left the ranch. ‘Dick’ Huish and the Haney boy overtook us at the fork of the trail. Then we came up onto the top of this hill, and there were Moroni Fenn and Zane McNeil. That made seven of us. We went down to this ranch to see if we could buy beef, and there were three more: Hank Jones, and I can’t remember the fellows that were with him. That made ten of us, and we had sixteen head of loose horses besides the one that we were riding. We were trying to get out with two choice horses.

“Then we milled along back away from the valley about a mile and a half until about one o’clock. We were within three miles of Agua Prieta. We decided we better stay there until daylight, and then we would make a run for the Arizona line regardless of where the custom house was. If we were put in the ‘pen’ it would be better than losing our outfits and maybe getting into a fight. We stayed there until it began to get light. Press Jones had a pair of field glasses, and he could see dust forming down in the valley. We were back about a mile and a half from the valley. We sat there ready to go and tried to decide what to do, whether to take a chance and go straight through to the line and not go down there to the custom house, or what.

“Then it became light enough, and he said, ‘That isn’t any army.’ We thought it was the rebel army saddled and ready to make an attack on Agua Prieta. ‘That isn’t any army. That is a big herd of cattle.’ We stayed there until nearly sunup. We could see then it was cattle and cowboys with them. We decided to go down there. As we approached, the foreman of the outfit came on a lope to meet us. He said, ‘I am glad to see you fellows. I am sure glad to see you. I have a job for every one of you here. Come down. I will have them make some coffee and biscuits. There is plenty of fried meat left from breakfast. Come on down and get something to eat.’ We were willing to take that part of his advice.

“When we were through eating, we told him we didn’t want a job. We wanted to get the horses across onto the Arizona side. He said, ‘They have called the fight off at Agua Prieta. The rebels have gone back down into Sonora and you won’t have any trouble there.’ So that is what we did. I had to leave the old Spanish Mauser and several other guns as they were Mexican property. We couldn’t bring them across without paying duty on them.”[18]

William Shirley Black Sr.

William Shirley Black Sr. was born in 1889 in Millard County, Utah. His family moved to Mexico after his mother died in 1899 from complications from a birth. William was ten years old. The baby survived, and the family took care of her until the father married Artemissia Cox two years after the birth. He reports: “She had three sisters living in Old Mexico, so she and my father went down there to visit. While there he decided [this] was a far better place to raise a family than where we were. For that reason, we moved to Old Mexico.

“When we first [moved] down there, my father sent me to Juárez Stake Academy to go to school. I came down with typhoid fever. [I had] a hard spell of it and recovered. [Afterward I] went to work in the sawmill. I worked there a little while and took a setback, had it all over again. I spent over a year there, just being sick. My father was killed down [in Colonia Guadalupe, Chihuahua, Mexico, over] a water question. My brother and I went up there to get water, the Mexicans run us off. We went home and my brother got a gun. [We] went up there and took the water. The Mexicans ran home and got a gun and came back, and my father came up there just in time to [be] shot. So we were left with my stepmother and the family. We came out [of Mexico] in 1912.

“Soon after that they started this war and the insurrection. In fact, my first wife and I came up to Salt [Lake County, Utah] and were married. We went back on the train. When we got back [to] her home in Colonia Díaz, we heard some gun shooting in the night. [We] woke up to find out two Mexicans had robbed the store and came out with bundles in their arms. The officer in charge there got a man or two out to help him. They tried to stop them [by] shooting in the air, but they wouldn’t stop. The two Mexicans got on their horses and ran, with their bundles in their arms, down the street. [One] of the Mormon men thought they were really having a battle, so he got out in the street and took a shot at them. He killed one of them [and] he fell. That day, Brother Harvey, one of our Mormon men, went out to his farm, and the Mexican relatives of this fellow who was killed beat him to death with a shovel. That day I was going to ride my horse back up to where we lived in Colonia Dublán. They found out I was going to go, so they wanted me to take the word up to the stake president about the trouble down there.

“I had to ride through the Mexican town to get out on the road to go up to Dublán. The bishop there decided they would send two or three of the boys along to protect me going through town. Then they decided I would be in more danger with a group of us than I would be alone. So they asked me to go alone, and I did. I rode through the town and when I got up to the edge of town I trotted through. Some men hollered at me and tried to stop me, but I didn’t stop [and] nobody followed me. After I got through the town, I went pretty fast from there on for a long while as long as the horse could take it. I [came] to Dublán in the morning just as the sun was coming up. Before I got there I was so sleepy, I had to get off and trot ahead of the horse and lead him to keep awake. When I [arrived] there the bishop put me to bed for a while. Then he took me with him, and we went up towards Colonia Juárez and met the stake presidency there to talk over the situation down in Colonia Díaz.

“I want to mention one man who meant a great deal to me down there in Mexico. My father owed a debt of 1,200 dollars of Mexican money to buy the home we had. After he was killed, Edmund Richardson bought the note. He had borrowed money from President Anthony Ivins. Edmund Richardson traded some mining stock for these notes. He told me that if I would work a year for him, he would call it square. So I did. I worked a year for Edmund Richardson. He is one of the finest men I ever knew. He was a lawyer [and] took care of most of our troubles with the Mexicans down there. [He was a] Mexican lawyer. I want to also mention when I spent one year [at the] Juárez Academy after my father died, two of the men whom I thought a great deal of was Charles McClellan and Guy C. Wilson, who was principal of our school.”[19]


These stories about Mexico are important to include for several reasons. First, all of these people later lived in the Mojave Desert region after they left Mexico and were interviewed in one of those villages. Secondly, their lives in Mexico were similar in that they lived in villages and worked mainly in agriculture. They kept close contact with Utah and were supervised by LDS Church leaders. The difference was that they were surrounded by Mexicans and eventually expelled by them during the Mexican Revolution.

About nine communities were established in northern Mexico to provide them an alternate location. In general, they thrived, but many who moved there had real challenges getting established. Not all Mormons who went to the colonies were polygamists, but its practice was central to the colonies. The LDS Church even allowed people there to be married into polygamy after the 1890 Manifesto based on the logic that it was not prosecuted in Mexico. Mexico did not legalize polygamy, but they accepted the children of second and third families as part of the original family. Those interviewed were children of polygamists when they fled to the United States between 1910 and 1912; they experienced firsthand the trials and blessings of living in Mexico in a polygamist family.

They reported that their families got along fairly well with Mexican families nearby. The problem that eventually drove them out of the country was the Mexican Revolution. The rebel side was led by Pancho Villa, and his troops were often located near the Mormon colonies. The interaction between the two groups varied. Some of these testimonies told that the revolutionaries came to them and bought food. Others told of armed rebels coming and stealing all their crops. These settlers were instructed by local Church leaders to be ready to flee to the US border. Sometimes the threat was real; other times it was a false alarm. Most of the settlers did not want to leave. Their large families were well established in the Mormon colonies. Some of the wives had as many as ten to thirteen children. They had put a decade or more of labor into their settlements. Some came directly to the area near Washington County. Others did not come to Dixie initially but did later. Like the other settlers in Dixie, these people too were laborers in the field. Once they moved, they fit into the Dixie culture immediately.


[1] See Thomas G. Alexander, Utah: The Right Place (Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith, 2003), 124. The 1856 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia (the party’s first year), passed a resolution to prohibit “the twin relics of barbarism”—polygamy and slavery. See Bill Federer, “Twin Relics of Barbarism: Polygamy, Slavery,” World Net Daily, 5 July 2015,

[2] Alexander, Utah: The Right Place, 124.

[3] Alexander, Utah: The Right Place, 124.

[4] Alexander, Utah: The Right Place, 124.

[5] See Thomas Romney, The Mormon Colonies in Mexico (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1938); and F. LaMond Tullis, Mormons in Mexico (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1975).

[6] See Romney, The Mormon Colonies in Mexico; and Tullis, Mormons in Mexico.

[7] Romney, The Mormon Colonies in Mexico.

[8] Tullis, Mormons in Mexico.

[9] Tullis, Mormons in Mexico, 60

[10] Bill Smith, “Impacts of the Mexican Revolution: The Mormon Experience, 1910–1946” (PhD diss., Washington State University, 2000).

[11] James Bundy, VOR File 68-040.

[12] John Jensen, VOR File 69-058.

[13] Mariah Delila Van Leuven Alldredge, VOR 68-035.

[14] Thomas Eagar, VOR File 68-045.

[15] Doretta Marie Iverson Bundy, VOR 68-026.

[16] Alta Rowley Perkins Wilcox, VOR File 68-072.

[17] Annie Eagar Covington, VOR File 70-007.

[18] Omer Dick Bundy, VOR File 68-030.

[19] William Shirley Black Sr., VOR File 70-031.