New Years With Poncho Villa

By Major Van Harl
Even Good Families can Have Evil Members.

Poncho Villa
Now to be honest Pancho Villa let everyone out of that jail, just as he had done in every other town he captured. I am sure he did not take Chihuahua City just to release a convicted murderer from Texas.
Major Van Harl USAF Ret
Major Van Harl USAF Ret

Wisconsin –-( In the process of doing research for writing my column I occasionally come across a family member with a small place in history.

My Revolutionary War grandfather John Harle had a first cousin, Sarah Harle who was George and Martha Washington’s housekeeper. After she gave birth to a child out of wedlock, named Baldwin Washington Harle she was removed from Mt. Vernon. This information can be found in Washington’s personal papers held at the University of Virginia.

Then there was Dr. Charles S. Harle (my family dropped the “e” before the Civil War) who served as a surgeon in the army of Pancho Villa, the Mexican bandit General. Prior to the Civil War my Harle ancestors lived in Kentucky, then members headed to Texas and that is where Dr. Charles S. Harle enters the picture. He was born about 1870 and attended medical school.

It would appear he was not all that successful in his medical practice in the El Paso, Texas area or in his home town of Abilene. Dr. Harle spoke Spanish and apparently was comfortable functioning in the Mexican culture because he moved to Chihuahua City, in the northern Mexican State of Chihuahua about 1901.

By 1913 Dr. Harle was sitting in the Chihuahua City jail having served ten years of a twenty year sentence for murder.

He was originally supposed to be executed by firing squad, but money and legal pull by his family in Texas dragged the process out long enough that the Mexican legal system decided to commute the sentence. I find lots of Harles, many veterans of the Confederate army in that part of Texas, at that time who were, lawyers, judges and medical doctors.

I must assume that family interests were working hard to save the life of the disreputable Dr. Charles S. Harle.

Life in the Chihuahua City jail was not pleasant at all. Dr. Harle’s family had to supply all his needs to sustain him in prison. Nothing was provided and the fact that Dr. Harle was a “gringo” did not do him any favors with the prison guards, except for the fact that money talks in prison. Dr. Harle’s family money did talk to a point, but it could not get the man released.

As the revolution in Mexico went on for years, Pancho Villa’s name became known north of the border. Someone made contact with the bandit General in reference to helping get Dr. Harle out of the Chihuahua City jail. I could find no mention of payment by the Harle family to Villa but I doubt a prison rescue was going to be taken on by Pancho Villa without some kind of business deal being made.

In November of 1913 Villa loaded a train with 2000 of his men, they snuck into Ciudad Juarez and captured the city. He had vowed he would celebrate the New Year in the capital city of Chihuahua and with the loss of Juarez City the opposing troops in Chihuahua City gave up and left. On 8 December 1913, Pancho Villa lived up to his agreement and freed Dr. Harle from the city jail.

Now to be honest Villa let everyone out of that jail, just as he had done in every other town he captured. I am sure he did not take Chihuahua City just to release a convicted murderer from Texas.

New Year’s day 1914 in Chihuahua City was one big fiesta hangover for Villa’s men, they took what they wanted. Dr. Harle signed on with Pancho Villa as a surgeon in the rank of Major. Villa and his men enjoyed the good life as victors, to include the delights of the local business women. Dr. Harle’s medical skills were needed in Villa’s army.

Rodolfo Fierro was one of Villa’s major “enforcers” of discipline and he enjoyed executing prisoners. I found where a “gringo” doctor showed Fierro how to line men up front-to-back and use one bullet to kill multiple people. Dr. Harle had helped kill more than one person in Mexico in a plot to swindle money from the New York Life insurance company. He really was an evil person and was not languishing in a Mexican prison on some trumped up charge as alleged by his family in Texas.

He should have been shot for his crimes but instead he got to spend New Years partying with Pancho Villa. He died a few years later at his mother’s home – kind of looks like someone poisoned him.

I am going to assume that Dr. Harle felt he was dealt a bad hand in life and this justified his going into crime that involved killing innocent people. Sarah Harle was treated badly by the Washington’s at Mt. Vernon but she did not follow a life of evil.

The problem is you never know about relatives.

It is amazing how many family members go to prison for supporting a criminally involved relative. The one being locked up is not really the bad guy in the family, they just got caught up in supporting an evil relative. This is where family feuding comes into play.

In the modern day it might be hiding knowledge of a criminal nature that a relative is involve in. Perhaps a family member is caught lying to investigating law enforcement personnel while trying to support a criminal family relation. Good people lie for bad relatives and suffer for it, especially when dealing with Federal law enforcement.

One of the big mistakes that a non-criminally guilty family member can do in support of their evil relative, that could cost them dearly, is buy a firearm for a convicted felon relation (or anyone for that matter.) You go to a gun shop and buy a firearm allegedly for yourself, but knowing all the while as you make the purchase that you plan on turning that weapon over to your dirt-bag criminal relative, this is a felony. It is called a “Straw Purchase

( purchase) according to the Feds and it is a type of felony that will get you prison time and end your right to ever own a firearm again.

Don't Lie For The Other Guy
Don’t Lie For The Other Guy

Why would anyone knowingly buy a gun for a criminal relative and risk endangering their own freedom? Sadly the answer to that question is people make stupid criminal personal decisions almost every day in this nation hoping to help an evil family member. In most cases the good relative is not trying to commit a crime they are truly just trying to help the misunderstood evil relative.

Almost every day when I read the Milwaukee newspaper there has been a shooting on the north side involving the diversified community of the city. Later when the case plays out in court and the facts of the crime are shared with the public is it frighteningly too common to read where a non-evil citizen of that neighborhood has bought the originally acquired legal firearm only to provide it to “evil.”

A nice new crisp handgun bought at the local gun shop is shifted into the hands of evil relatives or significant others and those evil people eventually harm and destroyed. They, the evil one does the actual harm but “you” the misguided relation knowingly helped damage or end an innocent person’s life.

You do not get to pick your relatives, but you do get to choose how you interact with them and providing evil a firearm is in fact an act of evil on your part.

Dr. Charles Harle was evil, but Sarah Harle was not. What are you and who will you support?

Have a great New Year, however always remember, you may not be interested in evil, but evil is always interested in you.

Sadly in some cases evil is a blood relative.

Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
[email protected]

About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School.  A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI.  His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training.  He believes “evil hates organization.”  [email protected]

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 years ago

We had a bad incident here in Wasthington State some years back, maybe ten…. convicted felon in violation of his parole was also under indictment for serious financial crimes, and the law were closing in on him on another sheet of raps. He acquired a handgun from a relative, cousin or aunt if memory serves, located four off duty cops enjoying a little time together before going on shift in a local coffee shop. He had another relative drive him there and wait outside in a parking lot next door. He then walked in to the shop, pulled his handgun… Read more »

4 years ago

About the supply of weapons to the “diverse” area of your town… I wonder two things:

how many of those weapons were simply stolen by the eventual perps?

If truly “straw purchased” or knowingly transfered to evil folk who could not buy them legally, how many of those “providers” have been prosecuted and imprisoned? Until this starts happening in the vast majority of cases, it will continue.

Rafael Grullon
Rafael Grullon
4 years ago

Interesting article, too bad name is misspelled. Not Poncho instead Pancho. LOL

4 years ago
Reply to  Rafael Grullon

Meanie !