In January 1914, Gen. John Pershing was assigned to command the Army's 8th Cavalry Regiment in Fort Bliss, Texas, responsible for security along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Pancho Villa was banking on American support to receive the 1915 presidency of Mexico. However, the U.S. Government supported the new government of Venustiano Carranza. Villa angrily, though quietly, vowed revenge against the United States and sent his pistoleros to raid American border towns. Villa connected US/Mexico intervention with discrediting Carranza and ultimately raising himself to the top of the Mexican popularity ladder. On January 11, 1916, Villa's bandits (known as Villistas after this most violent raid) stalled a train out of Santa Ysabel. On board were 17 Texas mining engineers who were traveling by invite of the Mexican government to reopen mines were executed by the Villistas. One man faked his death and managed to escape by rolling down an embankment and crawling back to Chihuahua City where he informed authorities of the massacre led by Pancho Villa. The chase was on. In March 1916, under the command of General Frederick Funston, Gen. Black Jack Pershing led the 8th Regiment on the failed 1916Punitive Expedition into Mexico in search of the revolutionary leader Pancho Villa. Pershing and Villa had actually met 3 years earlier in 1913 when Pershing invited him to Fort Bliss.
1914 photograph of Pancho Villa, and General Black Jack Pershing, in El Paso, Texas
Pershing's Calvary crossing the Rio Grande River (hence Black Jack CROSSING)
Downtown Yoakum, Texas is centered around an area called Pershing Square named after General John Pershing. It is a tradition that on the first Monday after Thanksgiving, a huge Christmas tree is placed smack dab in the center of Persing Square diverting traffic until after the holidays. Local school kids decorate the tree with handmade ornaments, paper garland, and other trinkets and Santa Claus does the honors of lighting the tree at the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.
In 2003, Mom spearheaded Yoakum's downtown revitalization campaign to help bring in over $2 million worth of street and sidewalk renovation to preserve Yoakum's business area and historical background.Streets were re-done, drainage added, landscaping and light posts were installed.Pershing Square was brought back to life and marked with a giant star of inlaid brick pavers. Now, once again, Pershing Square is the proud focal point of downtown Yoakum, Texas.
If you ever get the chance to visit Yoakum, stop and stand smack dab in the center of the Pershing Square star. If you face due South, you are just a few walking feet from Double D Ranch's headquarter offices. Please stop in and say "hi"! ...............