Pancho Villa and his wife, Luz Corral Villa. Mayor Tom Lea arrested her for arms smuggling during the Mexican Revolution. Courtesy of El Paso Public Library. © James D. Lea


The Mexican Revolution was in full swing and Dad, he sort of had to keep the peace on the El Paso side of the river. It was tough times down in Mexico. Dad and Pancho Villa had some words when Villa crossed over into El Paso one time. Dad had his chief of police and a couple of officers with him when he told Villa to get back across the river. Villa never forgave him and then Dad put Luz Corral Villa and Villa's brother Hipòlito in jail when they came over. They apparently were helping Villa get some arms and ammunition from sources on this side of the river.


Anyway, Villa didn't like the presidente municipal de El Paso worth a damn. He put out a public notice in Mexico offering $1,000 in gold for Dad, dead or alive, and he sent a threat to kidnap Joe and me. He didn't sign it but one of his dorados [did]. So for about six months Joe and I went to school with a police escort and came home with a police escort. And there was always a policeman stationed all night at our house.


Tom Lea speaking to Adair Margo, published in Tom Lea, An Oral History, El Paso, Texas: Texas Western Press, p. 7.