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Born Doroteo Arango in San Juan del Río, Durango, in 1877 (1879 according to some sources), the man most of the world knew as Pancho Villa spent much of his life in Durango until, at age 16, hekilled a man who had raped his younger sister. Little record exists of the next four or five years of his life, during which time he changed his name to Francisco Villa to evade the law. By the time he was20, Villa had moved northward to Chihuahua, working on and off as a miner in Parral while selling stolen cattle in Chihuahua (official government biographies list his occupation then as "wholesalemeat-seller"). In 1899 he returned to mining, this time in Santa Eulalia near Chihuahua, but he soon tired of the laborer's life and added bank robbery to cattle rustling and murder on the list ofcrimes for which he was wanted by the Díaz government.

Villa's Robin Hood story began after he established himself and his bandit followers in the sierras in 1900. Officially, the years 1900-09 are"unaccounted for," but it was during this period that he became a legendary hero to the poor for skillfully evading the Porfiriato's oppressive rurales. In 1910 Villa and his men came down from the hillsto join Francisco I. Madero'srevolutionary forces, thereby making a historical transition from bandidos to revolucionarios. The charismatic figure was able to recruit an army of thousands, including asubstantial number of Americans, some of whom were made captains in the División del Norte. Villa even created one squadron made up entirely of Americans under the leadership of Capt. TraceyRichardson, a man who apparently fought with many different insurgent armies around the world at that time.

Following Madero's short-lived victory and assassination, Villa remained in command of hisDivisión del Norte army in resistance--along with Coahuila's Venustiano Carranza and Sonora's Alvaro Obregón--against the 1913-14 Victoriano Huerta dictatorship. Around this time Villa also became...
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