[After the exodus from the Mormon Colonies in 1912, several hundred Saints returned back to their colony homes. They still lived in fear because the violence of the revolution still raged. Wards were again organized in Colonia Juarez and Colonia Dublan. In about 1915, these Saints came to know the famed revolutionary leader, Francisco (Pancho) Villa. Villa was known as a ferocious, savage revolutionist, with little regard for human life. Many of the Saints would again flee the colonies for fear of Villa. Yet, there were tales left behind of Villa's respect for the Saints and their way of life. In September 1915, Villa's army of 1,500 men rested in Colonia Dublan for a month. Many of the Mormon men became well acquainted with Pancho Villa. In later months, Villa became outraged at the United States' involvement with the revolution.
[Elder Robert E. Wells shared the following story about Pancho Villa at a BYU devotional on June 29, 1982. Elder Wells is a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and served as a mission president to Mexico.]
A story comes to my mind that I'm particularly close to. It appeals to me because it involves my dear wife's father. Brother Walser was one of the Mormon colonists in Mexico when this incident happened, and afterwards he was one of the witnesses, having spoken with one of the men who was with Pancho Villa at the time this little miracle occurred.
Pancho was very much incensed at the intervention of the United States in internal Mexican political affairs. I'll not go into all of the details, but in retaliation he took his army across the border into Texas and proceeded to harass and burn and murder and so on. [He raided Columbus, New Mexico]. And then on returning into Mexico, he found the Mormon colonies directly in his path. He was angry; he was going to cause more trouble. The Mormon colonists knew that his army was approaching them, and they sensed the threat of danger, and so they met together.
The bishop [Anson B. Call] who was there with this particular group called all of the priesthood leaders together, and they discussed what they should do. Some said, "Well, we have our deer rifles and our shotguns. Let's defend ourselves." Another said, "No, let's take our wives and families and flee to the mountains." Another said, "Well, let's set up an ambush for them," or "Let's put dynamite in certain places" or let's do this, or let's do the other. There were different options. The bishop, a wise, humble man, facing several options that he felt he really was not competent to decide among, finally said, "I think we ought to go home, have prayers, turn out the lights, go to bed, and leave it in the hands of the Lord."
Immediately there were some other discussions: "No, let's do this," and "No, let's do the other," and so on. Then one of the brethren stood up and said, "I'm going to follow the example of the bishop." Then another one did the same thing, and pretty soon they all went home, had prayers, turned out their lanterns, went to bed, and left it in the hands of the Lord.
Late that night Pancho Villa and his army arrived at the border of that little farming valley. He held up his hand, stopped the troops, and said, "Wait, there's an ambush. I can see the faint glimmers of fires all throughout the valley. The other army must have arrived here before we did." Others who were with him said, "No, we can't see anything." He disagreed strenuously with them and instructed the army to go around the valley and off in another direction.
One of his guides was known to my father-in-law, who happened also to have been a guide for some of Pancho Villa's army in another case in which he was taken as a hostage and threatened with his life unless he led them through a pass which he knew because of his deer hunting experiences. He was one of several witnesses to that incident where the men around Pancho Villa said, "We can't see anything." The colonists had done nothing, but Pancho Villa himself could see remains of fires in the valley, and he was certain there was an ambush there threatening him.
[Some people theorized that Villa might have seen the reflections of the moon on the windows of the town. A few days later, on March 17, 1916, U.S. General John J. Pershing arrived in Colonia Dublan with several thousand American soldiers in pursuit of Villa. Pershing stayed in Colonia Dublan for nine months. When he withdraw his troops, many feared that Villa would return. This was the second exodus from the Mormon Colonies. A newspaper article in El Paso, on January 29, 1917, reported about this exodus of Americans, Mormons, and foreigners. Like the flight of the children of Israel from Egypt, more than 1,500 refugees are following in the wake of the American Expeditional forces on the march out of Mexico. Mormons were riding in automobiles, covered wagons of the prairie schooner type, in farm wagons and on horses and mules, according to cattlemen. They were driving their milk cows ahead of them, while behind tramped hundreds of natives, Chinese and others who had not means of transportation on the long trek to the border. Nothing that could be brought out was left behind. (Romney, The Mormon Colonies in Mexico, 244).]