Friday, May 12, 2006

The Life & Times of Arthur Wheatley
[note from robertoreg:My Scoutmaster of Troop 130 in Dothan]
by William Wheatley

Thomas’ older son, Arthur Cornwallis Wheatley, became an engineer after studying in England at Cambridge University. He obtained an appointment with the British East India Company and spent several years in Africa surveying for potential mining operations. He surveyed also for the first rail line across Africa from Khartoum to the west. He also worked a tour of duty with The Nyasaland Company prospecting for minerals.

In between African excursions he returned to Mexico and occasionally visited Texas. His father had developed a fondness for San Antonio and had established a second home there.
In San Antonio, Arthur met Mary Lucy Giddings, daughter of a prominent Texas family. Her father, George Giddings, was involved in mining operations in northern Mexico. Arthur wrote to her extensively while on trips to Africa and they married in San Antonio when Arthur completed his assignments in Africa and returned to the Western Hemisphere.

After the marriage, Thomas moved to a home he owned in Mexico City. Arthur and Mary took up residence in Saltillo and took over the active management of the mines. They kept the house in San Antonio, living part-time in San Antonio, where Arthur practised Civil Engineering part-time. The rest of the time, the family lived in Saltillo, where my father, Arthur C. Wheatley, Jr., was born in 1900. They raised him as an Englishman, sending him to a Catholic school and hiring an English tutor to make sure he had a proper English education.

In 1910, the family was on a stagecoach trip from San Antonio to El Paso, where they also had a home, one that Mary had inherited from her father, George Giddings. The stagecoach overturned approaching El Paso. May Wheatley, my father’s older sister, was killed in the accident, and my father suffered a broken hip. Arthur Jr. was sent to New York City for medical treatment, where his broken hip was re-broken and set. He spent time in New York encased in sand until the knitting of the bones would allow travel back to Texas. Later that year, Arthur, Sr., died “of a broken heart” to be followed shortly by his father, Thomas D. Wheatley, who died at home in Mexico City.

In northern Mexico, in 1877 or 1878 (the exact date is not known), Doroteo Arango was born on an hacienda on which his father was a worker. In 1894, Doroteo, then working alongside his father, returned to their house to find his 12-year-old sister, Martina, being raped by a wealthy property owner, Don Lopez Negreto. Doroteo shot and killed Don Lopez.

At that time in Mexico a small number of wealthy property owners, primarily of Spanish ancestry, owned and controlled most of the working land. The native population, mostly Indian and Mestizo (mixed blood), lived on and worked the land for the landowners. Debts incurred by the workers were inherited by the sons, and pay was meagre. A worker could not leave the land unless all his debts to the landowner were paid, and so the condition was similar to that of feudal serfdom. The workers were little more than slaves. A landowner was permitted to punish his workers for insubordination with penalties up to and including death. Had the roles been reversed, Don Lopez would have been justified in killing Doroteo. As it was, Doroteo had committed a capital crime.

Accordingly, he fled to the hills to save his life. There he joined a corps of bandits led by Francisco “Pancho” Villa. Before long, Francisco was killed in a raid and Doroteo took over leadership of the band, adopting the name of his predecessor. From then onwards he was known as Pancho Villa.

Porfirio Diaz had ruled Mexico as President with dictatorial powers since 1876. He had developed the Mexican economy by inviting foreign investment. A number of Englishmen settled in Northern Mexico on land given them by Diaz. He invited foreign investment in industry and resource development as well. It was in this period that Thomas Dalemain Wheatley, my great-grandfather, moved to northern Mexico and invested in silver mines. Before long, the paths of Pancho Villa and the Wheatley family were to cross.

In 1905, a series of small rebellions began against the Diaz regime. Among them, Pancho Villa in the north and Emiliano Zapata in the south began fighting the federal forces and wresting large swaths of Mexico away from federal control.

Diaz could see the handwriting on the wall. He announced in 1908 that Mexico was ready for full democracy and that the time had come for him to prepare to step down and have an open election for president. Accordingly in 1910 a ballot was scheduled, and Francisco Madero announced his candidacy. He planned to institute rule by a group of elites, rather than full democracy, and Diaz, to prevent Madera’s election, threw him in prison and declared himself the winner. Madero escaped and fled to the US. A popular uprising ensued in support of Madero, who raised forces against the weak federal army. Zapata and Pancho Villa fought alongside him. After the defeat of the federal army, a coup within ranks resulted in Victoriano Huerta’s seizing command of the federal army. He worked out an agreement under which Diaz would abdicate. Madera was duly elected President and established a democratic government in 1911.

In 1911, most foreigners in northern Mexico withdrew to Texas for reasons of personal safety. Northern Mexico had become very turbulent. Most mining operations, owned and operated by foreigners, were shut down at that time. The American engineers who had been running the Wheatley mine since Arthur C. Wheatley Sr.’s death in 1910 shut down the mine and fled to Texas. The Wheatleys relocated to El Paso.

Zapata’s forces and Pancho Villa’s forces were merged into the federal army. Huerta expected to rule Mexico from his position as head of a strong military, while the idealistic president, Madero, would make speeches and write grand plans for Mexico. Huerta decided to eliminate his competition. Meanwhile, Zapata and Madero came to a parting of the ways over Madero’s failure to institute land reforms, and Zapata withdrew to the south with his forces.
Huerta imprisoned Pancho Villa, who also advocated land redistribution, on charges of insubordination. Huerta ordered the execution of Pancho Villa, but President Madero stopped the execution and ordered Pancho’s release. Pancho fled to the US in 1912 where he proceeded to make friends with wealthy Texans, arms dealers, and politicians.

In 1913, Huerta arranged for the assassination of Madero and declared himself president. Pancho Villa returned to northern Mexico and organised an armed rebellion. The force he formed came to be known as the “Division del Norte.” He and another rebel, Venustiano Carranza, waged a successful revolt against Huerta. The US supported the rebels against Huerta, who had begun expatriating American land holdings in Mexico and giving them to families that supported Huerta. This support included financial support and the sale of arms to the rebels.

Carranza and Villa had been enemies in the past, and Carranza tried to place Villa under his control by inviting Villa to join with him (meaning under him) for the campaign to overthrow Huerta. Villa refused, preferring to maintain an independent force. Carranza and Villa both fought simultaneously against Huerta, but as separate forces, very loosely coordinating with each other. Carranza formed an alliance with Álvaro Obregón. As the defeat of Huerta’s forces seemed imminent, Carranza and Obregón began skirmishing against Villa, and the war turned into a three cornered conflict.

In the midst of this, the US saw Carranza as the “stronger candidate” and began siding with Carranza, stopping the flow of money to Villa. At this time, Carranza/Obregón on one northern flank, Pancho Villa on another northern flank, and Zapata on the south were causing severe problems for the federal troops. As Carranza got closer to Mexico City with Huerta’s troops in retreat, the US opened a fourth flank against the Mexican federal troops. US Marines landed at Veracruz and marched on Mexico City (“The Halls of Montezuma”) in support of Carranza. Distracted by the American attack, the federal troops allowed Pancho Villa’s Division del Norte to establish control over most of northern Mexico, including most of the territory that had been under Carranza’s control. Carranza now controlled only his battlefields; his rival, Pancho Villa, controlled half of Mexico.

Seeing that his defeat was imminent, Huerta fled to Spain. Pancho Villa declared himself president, but so did Carranza. At first, the US appeared to recognize Villa’s presidency. General “Black Jack” Pershing hosted a formal reception for “Presidente Villa of the Republic of Mexico” at Fort Bliss, near El Paso, in July of 1914.

The US desired to prevent the return of Huerta, who had tried to ally Mexico with Germany in the war in Europe in order to take revenge on the French for their conquest of Mexico and installation of Maximillian as emperor of Mexico a generation before. The US anticipated an alliance with the British, and did not like the idea of a German ally on the southern border. Pershing promised that Pancho Villa would get renewed US aid and arms. Carranza entered Mexico City and was sworn in as president.

In 1915, Zapata and Pancho Villa, acting together, attacked and drove Carranza out of Mexico City. Pancho declared himself president and was sworn in as such. My father told me that his family was invited to attend the inauguration. His uncle, Lionel York Wheatley, lived in Mexico City at the time. I remember seeing among family papers the engraved menu from the inaugural dinner.

Carranza at that point turned back toward Mexico City and in 1915 mounted a serious campaign against Villa, who fled to the north. Carranza quickly won two important battles against Villa, who was hamstrung without money and arms, as US shipments to him had not resumed. Villa withdrew to the hills that were his traditional stronghold, and the US officially recognized Carranza as “provisional president”, ordering all arms shipments to Villa stopped. Pershing allowed Carranza to move Mexican troops across Texas to cut off Villa’s forces at Aqua Prieta, Sonora, where Villa suffered a serious defeat and pulled all of his remaining forces back to the hills.

Declaring that northern Mexico had been stabilised and was now peaceful, with Villa “defeated once and for all,” President Carranza in January of 1916 invited the exiled foreign land and business owners to return to Mexico. Many did, but Pancho Villa, enraged at America’s withdrawal of support, turned against Americans, vowing to kill all he could find. Arthur C. Wheatley Jr. was among those who returned. He was just sixteen at the time, but he was determined to resume mining operations in the mines he had inherited. Carranza attacked a train carrying seventeen American mining engineers from Chihuahua to the mines near Saltillo, executing sixteen of them. The seventeenth escaped by feigning death, dropping to the ground as if he had been shot, where he rolled down an embankment into a stand of mesquite trees, whence he escaped on foot.

I have read of this incident in histories of the Mexican revolution, and have wondered if the one who escaped was my father. He had returned to Mexico at Carranza’s invitation, relying on his looks (brown-skinned, brown-eyed, black-haired) to be able to pass for Mexican, on his ability to speak Spanish like a native, on the fact that he was a native-born Mexican and that as an Englishman he was not an American, to remain safe. The above incident and my father’s story are of the same time, but he never told me about the train attack. Nevertheless, he did flee Mexico at the time. Here is his story as he told it to me:

When Carranza became president and it seemed that the rebellions had been crushed, many who had fled Mexico at the outbreak of hostilities returned to their farms, their mines, and their businesses in Mexico. I was just sixteen at the time, but my sainted mother was nearly destitute from lack of income. She had been forced to sell our house in San Antonio to meet expenses and we had moved to the smaller home we had in El Paso, where I was in school.

In the spring, I started rounding up the engineers who had worked for my father in the mine and organized an expedition back to the mine. We went to Chihuahua by train, and then continued on the little mining supply train that ran through the mining country to Saltillo, where my father’s house still stood, the house in which I was born. I had arranged earlier for my mother’s car to be shipped ahead to the house in Saltillo.

Unfortunately, hostilities broke out again. To make a long story short, I made it by foot back to Saltillo without being caught by the Villistas. I took the car and drove as fast as I could on the dirt road to Monterrey where I slept, ate, stocked up on water, refuelled the car, and then took the road toward Laredo, Texas, which was the closest border crossing.

About two hours down the road I encountered by a patrol of troops. I couldn’t tell whether they were federales or Villa’s men. They were heavily armed and I had only my father’s revolver, so I stopped at their road block. El Colonel got in the car with me and told me he was commandeering my vehicle and that his men would follow on horseback. I asked him where they were going. He said they were going the same direction I was. I asked them what they were doing and whether there was trouble ahead, because I thought all the fighting was to the south.
“We’re looking for a Gringo [a Mexican slang word for American] named Arturo,” he answered.

“Did he commit a crime?” I asked.

“He came back to Mexico to steal again a mine that belongs to the people of Mexico. Diaz stole it from the people and gave it to the Gringos. We chased out the foreigners and took it back, and now Arturo came back to steal it back.”

“What does Arturo look like?” I asked.

“He’s a gringo, so he must have light hair and light skin. Have you seen any Gringos on your trip?”

“I’ve only seen Mexican peasants running away from the fighting.”

“So where are you going?” He asked.

I had to think fast. There was no destination worth mentioning between where we were and Nuevo Laredo on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande.

“I’m going to Laredo to buy American feed for my father’s horses. He raises fine Arabian horses for the corrida [bullfight].”

The answer seemed to satisfy him.

“I’m thirsty,” he said after a while. “What do you have to drink?” I nodded my head toward the back.

“I have some water in containers in the back,” I said.

“I am too thirsty for water,” he said. “Tiene usted cerveza? [do you have beer]?”

“Sorry, no.”

“Pulque?” [Pulque is an alcoholic drink consisting of fermented juice of the agave, the base that is distilled into tequila.]”

“No, yo tengo solamente agua [no, I only have water].”

“Stop at the next cantina.”

After about an hour we came to a crossroads populated by the village of Sabinas Hidalgo, consisting of a handful of adobe buildings, one of which contained a cantina. He instructed me to stop at the side of the road, which I did. He showed me a gold piece, and told me that if I waited while he and his men wetted their thirst, I could have it. I nodded agreement. Seeing a gasoline sign a short distance ahead, I told him that I would go to refuel the car and then return to wait for him.

His men dismounted and watered their horses at the public watering trough outside the cantina, and then they all went inside. I drove slowly to the gasoline sign, found the owner, and had him pump the gasoline into the car. I paid him, and then drove on as quickly as I could.

I never saw the troops again.

I made it without further incident to Laredo, and then went on to El Paso. In the fall, I went back to high school. As the revolution consolidated its hold on the country, Mexico nationalised the mines.

My grandfather’s legacy was taken away.

Back at high school in El Paso in the fall, my father enrolled in the Cadet Corps to prepare for commissioning in the US Cavalry. Everyone was expecting the US to enter the war in Europe in support of the British.

In March of that same year, 1916, Pancho Villa invaded New Mexico to punish an arms dealer there who had refused to ship arms for which Pancho had paid. He didn’t find the arms dealer, but he did attack and destroy the town of Columbus, New Mexico, in a battle in which several Americans were killed. Some believe that this was a staged incident by Carranza sympathisers to induce the US to intervene against Pancho Villa in the ongoing war between Carranza and Villa. However, the attack is consistent with Villa’s known intent to punish the Americans for abandoning him.

In April of 1916, General Pershing invaded Mexico, with President Carranza’s approval, to pursue and capture Pancho Villa. Pershing was singularly unsuccessful, although there were a number of skirmishes and he killed a number of Mexicans who were believed to be Villistas.

The US activities during these years were turning points in US military history. For the first time, US Marines stormed foreign soil. For the first time, National Guard troops were activated by the Federal Government to engage in combat. For the first time, American troops (regulars and National Guard) invaded what was indisputably foreign territory. For the first time, aircraft were deployed on a combat mission. This was also the first combat experience for Lt. George Patton, later to win fame and his place in history in World War II as a general. In Mexico, Patton succeeded in leading a raid that returned with three bodies of Mexicans – one of which was the body of one of the commanders of Villa’s forces, Cardenas. For a brief period, Patton was a “war hero” whose story was told in US newspapers.

Finally, after much futile pursuit and little to show for results, Pershing gave up the chase and returned to the US, writing to President Wilson, “Pancho Villa is everywhere, and he is nowhere.”

As a high school cadet, Arthur trained at Fort Bliss under Patton, among others. In 1918, upon graduation, Arthur was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Cavalry and stationed at Fort Bliss. Within days the company at Fort Bliss and their horses were sent by train to Galveston to board ship for Europe. Before they left harbour, the war ended. Arthur’s company was returned to Fort Bliss and mobilized as a border patrol to defend the border against bandits and Apaches. By the end of the year, the unit was converted to inactive National Guard status and demobilized.

Mexico seemed to have settled down, but with Pancho Villa still holed up in the mountains. In 1918 the Constitution of the Republic of Mexico was adopted and the “official” phase of the Revolution ended. However, small bands of rebels still held out, and there were occasional skirmishes, but the “rebellions” began to look more and more like “banditry.”

In early 1919, Arthur returned to Mexico with a few mining engineers. He reopened the mine and hired the local Indians to work it, paying them in silver coin. They had no trust in paper money, since each of the bandit-revolutionaries had developed the habit of printing his own, and paper money had very little value. Silver, however, was a known quantity. On Thursday, Arthur would take boring samples, rods of ore stone drilled out of the rock, by mule train to Chihuahua for assay, along with the mined ore for sale. He would return with rolls of silver coins to pay the miners. Here is the story, combining his verbal story to me with written narratives from his papers:

The hills still had roving bands of bandits. Some were Pancho Villa’s men, some were bands loosely associated with him, and some were simply independent gangs. Villa tried to run herd over them all, acting as regional policeman. If a local farmer had been robbed, he would go to Villa, who would track down the bandit who did it and return the loot. If a visitor from elsewhere in Mexico was robbed and complained to Pancho, Pancho would return the goods and tell him to try to stay in his own neighbourhood. The bandits were supposed to prey only on trains carrying supplies to the federales or to interests outside of Pancho Villa country. Raids to lands nearby were permitted, but within Pancho Villa country one was supposed to be secure and safe. Of course, the truth was far from what it was supposed to be.

My weekly mule train was often stopped. Usually, I was stopped on my way out to Chihuahua. When asked what my mules were carrying, I would show them the stone rods which were the assay samples and the bags of crushed stone that was the ore. Seeing nothing that they could use for money, they would let me go. I made it a point to carry a few of the “stone rods” with me on my return to the mine, so that if I was stopped on the way back I could unwrap stone rods to show the bandits instead of rolls of silver coins. Soon, I no longer had to show them anything. They would ask what I was carrying, and I would tell them I was carrying rocks and stone rods, and they would wave me on. Soon, I stopped carrying the assay samples back to camp from Chihuahua.

That was a mistake – a careless mistake. A band of bandidos stopped me on one trip and asked what I was carrying. I gave the usual answer. The leader dismounted, walked up to my lead donkey, and used his machete to slash open a roll of silver coins. Sneering at me, he took the mule train and killed the two Indians who rode with me, slashing them across the stomach so that their intestines spilled to the ground. He took my horse, my hat, my rifle and my boots. I walked barefoot back into camp.

In those days I had a temper. I was really angry. I took my revolver from my trunk. It was the revolver that had been carried in earlier days by my father, and that I had carried in rougher times, but which I had stopped wearing. If I had been wearing it, the bandido would have taken it, too. I saddled another horse and rode to Pancho’s stronghold. When his guards challenged me I told them I had a complaint that Pancho Villa needed to hear. They let me in. I dismounted and walked up to Pancho Villa.

“Don Pancho,” I said, “I have known you since we met at Fort Bliss when I was young. I have always known you as a man of your word, a man who values honour. You have known me as the Englishman born in Mexico who is as much Mexican as English. I complain to you as a Mexican who has been wronged in your territory by bandidos.”

I then told him the story of my robbery. I then drew my revolver, holding it so that it pointed straight up at the sky.

“You know me as a man of my word, as well,” I continued. “I give you my word that if you do not return to me what is mine, I will fight for what is mine. If I do not leave here with what is mine, I shall starve, and my mother and my sister shall starve, and we shall die, so I do not fear being killed by your men. But you can be sure that you will die before I do.”

“Put away your weapon,” said Pancho. “I’ll die before you because I’m older than you. I’m not going to harm you. My men did not know they were robbing the English Mexican. I will return all of your property.”

With that, he turned his back to me and strode toward the table that was set in the courtyard.

“Come eat and drink with me, as an old friend, before you return to your camp,” he said.

I did join him for dinner. We traded tall tales about our adventures. He laughed when I told him of my flight by car from Mexico a few years before.

“My men would not have harmed you,” he said. “They were under orders to round up all Gringos and bring them to me. They didn’t know that the Arturo they sought was the English Mexican. I knew that you and your father were men of honour, and I would have let you go. But I would have taken your mines, because Diaz had stolen them from the people.”

“You don’t take it now,” I said. “Why not now? Why would you have taken my property then, but not now?”

“Times have changed,” he said. “The revolution is over. I fight on only because I don’t want to be caught and executed. The times are still dangerous. Small fights still go on. Most of my men know who you are and respect you. But there are men in this state who are not revolutionaries but bandidos. You have to be careful of them. You need a bodyguard.”

He sat in thought for a moment before continuing. “I have a man who shall be your bodyguard. He is not as old as I, but he is experienced, and he knows all of my men. He is one of my right-hand men. He can deal with any bandido you run into. He will be at your side from today and I will pay him as I have always done. I do things for my friends.”

Raising his voice, he yelled, “Don Jesus! Come here!” A swarthy bandido came running to the table.

“Sí, mi General,” he said.

“You know the English Mexican, Don Arturo. He is a friend of mine. Bandidos have been bothering him. I give you to him. You are to guard him and serve him as you would guard and serve me. ¿Comprende?”

“Sí, mi General,” he said.

Don Jesus departed with me and stayed with me from then on. After several trips to and from Chihuahua, bandit bands no longer stopped us. They just smiled and waved as we went by. I had saddle bags painted with the words, “Don Arturo” and started sending the mule trains with one of my engineers in charge, no longer feeling the need to defend them myself. For weeks they returned safely. I had begun to think that they were finally safe from the bandidos.

Then one day the engineer who had taken a mule train to Chihuahua returned with the mules but without his men and without the payrolls. He told me that bandidos had taken the money and shot his men. I turned to Don Jesus and took out my anger on him.

“Don Jesus,” I shouted, “I thought that your boss had honour but he does not. His bandidos have taken my money.” He stood with bowed head while I yelled at him a while longer. I told him to go back to his bandido friends, that from now on I would hire my own guards and take care of myself. He raised his head and looked me in the eye.

“Don Arturo, I have honour, and so does Don Pancho. I will go and get the men who did this. They are men who have left Pancho, have abandoned the revolution, and have become bandidos. They are without honour, and I, who have honour, will bring them to justice.”

I immediately repented my outburst because I was sure that he was telling me the truth and that this was not Pancho Villa’s doing. I apologized to him, but he stopped me, telling me that I should hold my words until he returned, having then proved his honour. He armed himself heavily and rode alone into the hills. I said a silent prayer for his safety, fearing he would not return alive. My American engineer and I went to Saltillo for a few days at home with bath water, soap and good food.

Three days later he walked into the courtyard of my house in Saltillo, leading his horse, on which three prisoners were tied and strapped into place. He offered them for identification. Alas, the bandits had their faces covered when they had committed the act, and my engineer could not identify them.

Don Jesus untied them from the horse, but left their hands bound and left them tied together. Leading them by the rope that bound them, he led them away, saying he would take them to town and deliver them to the local police for investigation.

He was back within an hour, reporting the old story that they had tried to escape and he had been forced to shoot them.

“But, Don Jesus,” I complained, thinking of their blood on my head, “Those men may not have been the ones who assaulted my men. We could not identify them. You may have killed innocent men!”

“Innocent? Ah, but, Don Arturo,” he said, “They could not have been innocent. They were very bad men, yes, very bad. They were the ones, I am very positive! And besides, if they did not do that, they have done other things. They are very bad men. Yes, they were my chief lieutenants in the days of the revolution. They deserve the punishment that they have received.”

He was standing straight and calm with dignified pride.
“I did what they deserved. Justice is served. My days of killing men who do not deserve to die are over. We must make Mexico a land of law!”

I thought to myself that it would be generations before the old ways died and Mexico could become a land of law.

In 1920, General Álvaro Obregón, along with associates Plutarcho Elías Calles and Adolfo de la Huerte launched a successful revolt against Carranza, who was soon assassinated. Carranza had already had Zapata killed in 1919. Pancho Villa, the last remaining revolutionary, reached a deal with the new Mexican government under which he laid down his arms and retired to a large hacienda with his men.

The new government expropriated the mines, industry and lands owned by foreigners, including the Wheatley mines. My father returned to Texas and continued pursuing his degree in mining engineering from the Texas School of Mines in El Paso.

In early 1923, Calles began campaigning for election as President, and Pancho Villa, still immensely popular with the people of the north, decided to make a legitimate bid for election. He told his associates he was going to announce his candidacy and try to win election. My father had returned to Mexico, employed now as a mining engineer to work in the mines he had once owned, by a company that was running them for the Mexican government.

Pancho Villa began a trip criss-crossing the northern states, lining up political and financial support. When his car reached Parral, Chihuahua, he was killed in a hail of gunfire.

As my father told it, Villa had arrived by car in the town square with the town leaders and local businessmen, including my father, standing near the car. Villa was going to make a speech announcing his candidacy for president. Seven gunmen killed him in a hail of gunfire.

Once again my father headed for the border. The assassins were arrested, tried, and imprisoned with very light sentences. Suspicion centred on Calles, but the assassins never named their employer, and Calles soon pardoned them.

No uprising followed, and so my father returned to Mexico and his employment after a brief absence. Soon, he met Inda Mary Benway, a young lady later to become his bride, who was at the time living with her father, mother, and sister in Chihuahua. Her father, Dr. William Henry Benway, a surgeon, operated a medical and surgical clinic for the Methodist Church to provide medical care to the Indians of the region, particularly the Tarahumara Indians.

He left Mexico after the mines played out in 1929, and Don Jesus went back to the hill country. My father worked for a while in the Beaumont, Texas shipyards before marrying Inda Benway on 5th June 1935 in El Paso, Texas. He returned with her to his home in Saltillo and returned to working in the mines he had once owned. Then, when the US entered World War II, he took employment with the Tennessee Valley Authority as a construction engineer.

When I was an infant in 1945, we moved from Norris, Tennessee, to Merida, Yucatan, where my father began employment with Electric Bond and Share of New York, later known as EBASCO, building power plants. My father said that he wrote to his friends in Mexico to announce his return, and that about a month later, Don Jesus showed up on his doorstep in Merida. He told my father that although Pancho was dead and could not pay him, he was there to continue his duty. My father put him to work on the payroll of the projects he was running.

I remember Don Jesus. When we moved to Puebla, Don Jesus came, too. My father became Chief Engineer for Luz y Fuerza de Puebla, the power company for the state of Puebla, and Don Jesus became night watchman at the power plant that served the City of Puebla. That power company, and the entire power industry in Mexico, was owned at the time by EBASCO. My brother, Thomas Benway Wheatley, who was born in Puebla, also may remember Don Jesus. After burglars broke into our house one night, Don Jesus started spending his nights as night watchman at our house. Our dog, Butch, adored Don Jesus and would make the nightly rounds with him. He fed Butch bread soaked in coffee, which Butch seemed to love. Don Jesus died shortly after we moved permanently from Mexico in 1955. I remember him as a kind, gentle old man with steel in his eyes. They were the grey of gunmetal.

Once again, it had become necessary for my father to leave the country, this time because the Mexican government expropriated foreign holdings. It nationalised the power industry and passed a law forbidding the employment of Americans in managerial positions in state-owned industries.

In 1955 we left Puebla and settled in Dothan, Alabama, where my father took a position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a construction engineer at near-by Fort Rucker.

My father and mother are both buried in Dothan.

The connection between Alabama and Pancho Villa’s Mexico may be tenuous, but the strange friendship between my father and Pancho Villa provides a link. Pancho Villa was brutal, and began his adult life as a bandit. However, throughout most of the revolutionary period, he was a true revolutionary and champion of the poor people.
William Arthur Wheatley
(©2006, William Arthur Wheatley)
Today, I am an architect and construction manager. I live and work as a consultant in the Philadelphia suburbs. Like my father’s, my work tends to be international. I have many beautiful memories from my childhood in Mexico. My brother, Thomas Benway Wheatley, Esquire, an attorney, lives and works in Portland and in Bar Harbor, Maine.
The copyright for this article is owned by William Arthur Wheatley. This article may not be reproduced without permission in any media. Some of the photographs reproduced in this article are from the public domain, and are so noted. The remainder are the separate copyright property of the owners referenced.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hey y'all:
Buddy Buie is gonna be on some regional radio talk shows soon talking about the soon to be released "The Day Bear Bryant Died."

He will be on Max Howell
at 11:00 A.M.
on MONDAY, May 22 & on the same day he will be on Wimp & Sonny
at 7 A.M.

April 25 Interview With Buddy Buie on WOOF FM

[play recording of "So Into You"]

997, WOOF FM, Atlanta Rhythm Section & "So Into You" & so cool to have the guy who had a hand in writing that song right there & when you're thinking about songs and song lyrics, especially from the 70's, a lot of folks were confused about some of the lyrics and this one was always a mysterious song to me because the line goes,
"When you walked into the room there was voodoo in the ...."
and I sang it every way except the right way. What's the real line?

Buddy: "When you walked into the room, there was voodoo in the vibe."

DJ: "in the vibe"....I was always....

Buddy: Hey, man, that's cool! That's Seventies! "In The Vibe"

DJ: And Amy, I just asked Buddy if he wrote that line. He didn't remember writing that line...

Buddy: Aw,gosh! So many lines, so many songs. That's one of the reasons you never hear "Lennon/McCartney", not to put us in that league,
Anytime there's two or more writers, the way that goes is this:
There's three people in the room!
They're three writers!
You can't delineate who wrote what line or whatever.
If you did that, there'd be a constant fist fight!

DJ: Bunch of collaboration going on!

Buddy: There be too much collaboration!

DJ: "Imaginary Lover", coming up!
We're gonna continue with our visit with Buddy.
We're also gonna by featuring this new song Buddy has written very recently about
the late great Bear Bryant, in the mean time, time for news headlines and weather for

DJ: Ninety Nine Seven WOOF FM at 8:26. By the way, we'll announce the birthdays and anniversaries at 8:40 this morning.
Continuing our visit with Buddy Buie here, Wiregrass native who did a lot of writing for The Atlanta Rhythm Section as, matter of fact, manager and producer. What's it like taking a group of very talented, gifted individuals, Buddy, like the Atlanta Rhythm Section, into a studio and try to organize something that sounds like ARS?

Buddy: Well, it was a progression. Originally, all those guys in Atlanta Rhythm Section, they,uh,
because I had produced a lot of records before them,
The Classics IV and B.J. Thomas and Billy Joe Royal and they were my studio musicians.

DJ: Right.

Buddy: So the way they were formed...
I kept hearing about all these English blues guitar players that were so great and I said,"Wait,man! I'm surrounded by guys that the English guys are playing like!"

DJ: Right! Right!

Buddy: We all got together. It wasn't easy. It was tough. We lost members. We added members. We went through some really tough times financially because it was...
We started the band in '70 and we didn't have a hit until '76.

DJ: Right.

Buddy: As a matter of fact, that album, ROCK 'N ROLL ALTERNATIVE in '76, if it hadn't a been a hit that'd been the end of their recording career so, uh, we had to really produce on that record in a short amount of time.

DJ: There always seemed that there was a pretty special feel when you'd come to the Dothan Civic Center, primarily, coming to the Wiregrass to play.

Buddy: Oh yeah.

DJ: It seemed like home.

Buddy: As a matter of fact, like Dean Daughtry is from Opp/Andalusia, that area.

DJ: Right.

Buddy: And all the guys in the band had roots here. Everybody knew, first of all, John Rainey, and all the guys from Dothan, they were kind of a part of our little...
Studio 1 was almost like an artist's colony!
All the bands, SKYNYRD cut there. Al Kooper, when he came down and did SKYNYRD, he recorded there. The Rhythm Section ...
but transforming a group of musicians with individual ideas and with very divergent personal goals into one, it's kinda like putting a professional football team together, everybody think like a team.

DJ: Right.

Buddy: Instead of everybody thinking,"I'm gonna be the star!" , you know, a lot of people say the band was never as big as they could have been as far as image-wise.

DJ: Right.

Buddy: Main reason was because the band didn't really want that! The guys, they loved to play, but they didn't...
But, touring...
They never really liked...
Right! They did it because people really wanted 'em touring. They could make some money at it but they were not ROAD HOGS!
Not a band who just loved to get up to perform for people.
They liked...
They were great musicians and they were more serious about what they did in the studio and the road...
They finally adapted to the road but at first...
When they came out on the stage, they lacked a lot because they'd never played or performed for people and down through the years, they became better and better and by the time...
They were really..
CHAMPAGNE JAM came out. ROCK 'N ROLL alternative came out.

DJ: Cool! Hey let's play this one right here. It's "Imaginary Lover" and more conversation with Buddy Buie coming up on Ninety Nine Seven WOOF FM.

DJ: Ninety Nine Seven WOOF FM ,
ARS, Atlanta Rhythm Section, "Imaginary Lover" off CHAMPAGNE JAM which Buddy referenced just a few minutes ago. Buddy's with us this morning. Welcome back again. Thanks for spending a few minutes with us this morning.

Buddy: Oh, thanks for having me.

DJ: We'll try to get you back to the lake on time!

Buddy: OK.

DJ: Tell me about this Bear Bryant record.

Buddy: In January of 1983, when Bear Bryant died, we were up at Lake Lanier in Atlanta.
Rented a cabin there because we didn't have enough time to come to Eufaula. We had just a couple of days.

DJ: Right

Buddy: So we were writing songs and we had the television on in the background and look up and saw this huge funeral procession. Turned the television up. Keith Jackson was speaking. Almost like narrating it.

DJ: Right.

Buddy: and it so overwhelmed us.

DJ: It was unlike anything Alabama had ever seen. You would have thought the Governor had died.

Buddy: Or the President! It was unbelievable.

DJ: Yeah, yeah.

Buddy: It was a phenomenal event. Ronnie and I were just overwhelmed by it and I mean Ronnie was more emotional than I am and Ronnie was crying, "Oh man, this is..."
So we wrote this song. Ronnie had this incredible melody that we'd been fooling with and we started writing about that to that melody.
"The Day Bear Bryant Died"
We finished a day or two later and later on we did a demo as we do with alll of our songs. You gotta demo first to see how they work. Sometime you demo 'em with one guitar, two guitar...
but you gotta demo 'em to see how they work.

DJ: But this new song is 22 years old!

Buddy: Yeah, I'll tell you a little history on this thing. Harrison Parrish is from Dothan. He's one of the co-founders of Movie Gallery. He was at my house and I played this song to him.

DJ: Right.

Buddy: On a CD. I'd transferred it to CD. Well, Harrison said,"You gotta do something with that!"
So he said,"I'm gonna introduce you to some people at Alabama,"
because he was an Alabama alumni and so he did so.
Introduce me and now we're trying...
My goal is to make this an anthem for the BAMA NATION!

DJ: That was my next question!
So many years ago and why are we just finding out about this?

Buddy: Like I said, Harrison said,"You gotta do something about this."
I said,"OK. So I'll go get the original master and we'll remix it. We'll ,you know, have Rodney Mills fool with it some."
Well, we go get the original master and on the original master the oxide was coming off of the tape because when you store oxide tape...
So they had to take it and put it in a special oven and bake it to keep it from coming apart.

DJ: Wow! Right!

Buddy: So they baked it, played it and transferred it to digital form and we started putting it together as you now hear it. Just by remixing and fooling with it but all this was done that week that it was written. It was a couple of months later before we demo-ed it but it's been near and dear to my heart and to Ronnie's heart because we just love it as a song. You know, sometimes songwriters like the songs that don't sell as much as they do the songs that sell. You know, the songs that are personal to them. This was one that was personal to us. I'm just thrilled that the people at Alabama, the alumni and people have been encouraging me to do something with this and now that I did Finebaum, a lot of people on this station might have heard me on Finebaum talking about it.

I did the radio stations up in Tuscaloosa.

DJ: That was on AM 560. That was probably one of the first times that song ever played, right.

Buddy: Yeah, it was, yes, uh huh.

DJ: It's never really been out on the radio except on your Finebaum appearance on AM 560 and we're about to play it right here.

Buddy: Yeah and we played it on Phil's show and I want everybody to understand that this record is not available until right before football season and then it will be available at all Movie Gallery stores and part of the proceeds for this go to the Bear Bryant Museum at Alabama where we hope it will be for sale. We're finalizing a deal with the University of Alabama and I think you'll be hearing a lot about it.

My dream is for this to be played at Bryant-Denny Stadium and for the crowd to sing along at the chorus and make Bear's...
I mean, his image is gonna live anyway but to go back to that day. It's like, "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?"

Where we you when Bear Bryant died?
...and most people in Alabama remember that day!

DJ: Absolutely!
Here it is! It's called "The Day Bear Bryant Died" at Ninety Nine Seven WOOF FM

DJ: Ninety Nine Seven WOOF FM
It's called "The Day Bear Bryant Died". The great Buddy Buie wrote that and Ronnie Hammond sang that, right?

Buddy: Yeah, Ronnie and I wrote that and Ronnie sang it. I think Ronnie did a great job on that!

Amy: Beautiful!

DJ: Absolutely. It does have a hymn-like effect. You can almost see the stadium swinging back and forth.


DJ: Hey Buddy, God bless you. Thanks for spending a few minutes with us this morning.

Buddy: Thanks so much for having me. You know when you write a new song, heck we wrote the song 20 years ago!
But when you're out promoting a record again and I'm promoting this one for different reasons I promoted one in the past. People take the time to give you airtime and support you in what you do. It's wonderful and I really, really appreciate it.

DJ: Well, you're a child of the Wiregrass!

Buddy: I am that!

DJ: I hope you don't mind us claiming you as that!

Buddy: I'm that!

DJ: Once again, Movie Gallery, near football season, we can be looking out for the song.

Buddy: I'll get you the specific date. If you'll be so good enough to tell the folks, I'll let you know.

DJ: We'll do it!

Buddy: OK.

DJ: Buddy, come back and visit with us.

Buddy: Thank you.

DJ: Good stuff! That's a lot of fun hanging out with Buddy and doing a little reminiscing this morning.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


J.R. Cobb & Buddy Buie

The James Gang In A Motel Room

From :
Doug Bond
Sent :
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 4:05 AM
To :
Subject :
Wiregrass Rock 'n' Roll

Robert, I've been snacking on Cubalabama for a couple of months.
Thought I'd let you know how much I've enjoyed it. I grew up in Ozark - graduated in '67. I live up in North Carolina but my folks are still in Ozark.

A few quick memories:

Around my sophomore year a sort of gruff, portly guy in a red sport coat started putting on dances at the Ozark Rec. Center. The band was a little tougher looking than the usual area bands. The singer had hair down to his collar and the band looked a bit "redneck" to us. The crowd was thin for that first show and there were a lot of wisecracks and snickers amongst us. But we had to admit at the end of the night that, even though the band had a harder edge than we were used to, they really were pretty damn good. The big guy at the door was all business and brought that band back every Thursday night for the next couple of months. By then the crowds were out the door and everyone knew who Buddy Buie was. Nobody was making jokes anymore about Wilbur Walton, Jr. and The James Gang and "Georgia Pines" was on the jukebox in Panama City.

I saw the Candymen at the Dothan Armory and remember how impressed I was by their PA system. They had these BIG speakers instead of the usual pair of Shure column speakers most bands used. I knew they backed Roy O. but I was really surprised at how really well they played all kinds of different stuff.

Of course, the Rockin' Gibraltars played many, many times in Ozark and were probably the top band there after the James Gang moved on to bigger things.

The Showmen's "It Will Stand" is indelibly burned into my psyche from those gigs.

I was at a gas station after one of those shows and the band was gassing up for the long ride back to Montgomery. Bassman Keith "Boxcar" Brewer amazingly uncapped a bottle of YooHoo with his teeth.

I remember seeing the Sir Douglas Quintet at the Ozark Rec. Center. Don't know what possessed them to play there other than they were out milking their hit "She's About A Mover" and maybe Buddy or someone steered them that way because he knew you could rent the place cheap and draw big crowds. Great show - first band I saw in person that had a hit record.
Doug Bond

Sunday, May 07, 2006

From :
Sent :
Sunday, May 7, 2006 10:27 PM
To :
"robert o register"
Subject :
John Lennon

Hey Robert...I found this on the "Lennon The Musical" page. This was a quote made after john's death. Thought you might be interested!

Working with John
"Chris Montez and I were headlining a tour of England and Scotland in 1963 and the Beatles were at the bottom of the bill, but they soon became the stars. It was a 30 day bus tour, all one nighters. My first record, Sheila was a hit in '62 but I had no real experience as a performer; while the Beatles had a lot of stage experience but no hit. When I met John, he told me the group used to sing Sheila at the Star Club in Hamburg, and I thought he was kidding until the "Live" album came out years later and Sheila was on it.
He was inquisitive about the States, asking about my hometown, Atlanta, and everywhere else.
He was a bundle of energy, always talking, always clowning. I have a photo of him backstage during the tour, and he's coming at me with his hands up like a claw, his glasses on crooked."
- Tommy Roe


From :

Sent :
Monday, May 1, 2006 6:54 PM
To :

Subject :
William A. Bowles

I found one blip about William A. Bowles regarding Forbes purchase. Is there other info throughout your archives? As I understand he was detained in Cuba twice and died there during his second stay. I'm curious as to your take on Bowles. Was he a good guy or not? Did he help or hurt the Creeks/Seminoles? Do you believe his heart was connected to his Indian family and his motives centered on helping establish a State for the Creeks/Seminoles or was he intent on self-gain? I understand that a portion of the debt accrued by the Creeks was attributed to his taking Panton post above St. Marks- again, I question motives. I'm not so sure his motives weren't sincere, though perhaps misguided- but who knows for the time period. After the Battle in Pensacola was lost who's to say that he couldn't see the writing in the sand. See that there was no longer a buffer who cared to keep the Georgian's a bay, keep them back from swallowing up all of the Creeks' land. How many of us would spend 20-plus years fighting for the same ideals- before and after prison? He spent years in prison in Spain, only to come back and take up the banner to continue the fight. That's not to say that he wasn't a bold/brassy man, flamboyant but that doesn't mean that he couldn't have been a showman with idealistic goals. If you have written comments regarding Bowles I'd love to read them or if you have two-cents worth you'd like to share. - Kirkland


The central question to me is how come Bowles located in the area of present-day Early County Georgia, Seminole County Georgia, Decatur County Georgia, Houston County Alabama and Jackson County Florida.

The answer is simple. That area was the location of the river crossing for the northern branch of the Old Spanish Trail between Pensacola and St. Augustine. This route across the Chattahoochee was open practically year round and there were always plenty of folks with ferry boats, horses, mules and oxen.

As to your questions:

Was Bowles a good guy or not?

Some claim he was a Freemason. I tend to think of him as a sociopath. He played his lot.

Did he help or hurt the Creeks/Seminoles?

Because of him, the Indians got HISTORY'S ATTENTION!
What he could have theoretically produced in 1804 finally occurred after he was dead in 1813.
What happened was absolutely an unjustified bloody shitty mess and that would probably set well with Bowles.

Do you believe his heart was connected to his Indian family and his motives centered on helping establish a State for the Creeks/Seminoles or was he intent on self-gain?

Apparently, Bowles never had a problem attracting women in London so he probably didn't have too much problem down home over 200 years ago.
HBO could do an INDIAN TRADER/SOPRANOS on Bowles' business connections in The Bahamas. He was a money man and a con artist who kept everyone waiting on shore for their ship to come in.

From :
Gary Ivey
Sent :
Sunday, May 7, 2006 8:32 AM
To :

Subject :
Clayton Ivey

Greetings Robert.
I stumbled on to your Cuba, Alabama blog and found it fascinating.
Really great stuff.
Actually, I was looking for the website of my daughter, Jeni Ivey, a budding singer in San Francisco, and then looked up Clayton Ivey, which led me to Cuba.
I gather that Clayton is from the Mobile/Pensacola area, and I can't help but wonder if he is related to my Granddaddy Ivey's people from around Conecuh County. (Ivey is not a common name).

I'm finding that history and geneology takes on more meaning as one gets to middle age (I'm 50), and I'm afraid that I am far removed from the South in terms of time and relations (Mobile native; moved out west in '73).
But one is always a Southerner, trust me.
Anyway, Cuba is really great stuff.
Thanks for making it possible for me to share in all this.
-- Gary Ivey, Bakersfield, CA

To Alabama Society of Professional Land Surveyors' President Greg Spies and anybody else who might be interested in passing on a little Alabama History to the next generation:

ASPLS needs to sponsor the construction of a replica of an 1854 Whitner Line Mound at or near Chattahoochee State Park to witness either the 1799 Ellicott Mound #379 or # 380 site predicted by your computer model of Ellicott's Mound Line between the Perdido and Chattahoochee Rivers.

This construction of a distinctly and unmistakenly marked Alabama/Florida Line could be used to focus public attention upon improving the Ellicott's Stone Park,

strengthening Troy State's Geomatics Degree Program
and understanding the complex history of the Alabama land governed by the Tallahassee Meridian.

Faircloth's notes are sufficient to describe the design of this project:

By random lines running west Whitner was to proceed to ascertain the line of demarcation and the location of each of the mounds or monuments as soon as he found the lines he was supposed to, without disturbing the mounds [note: Ellicott's Southern Boundary of the United States Survey Mounds/Mile Markers,commissioned by President George Washington & constructed by the U.S. and Spanish boundary commissions in the summer of 1799], proceed to signalize or witness by constructing around each [Ellicott Mound] as its center a quadrangular trench. The dirt was to be used to form a marginal elevation at least one foot high. The sides of the quadrangle to face the cardinal points, six feet from the mound center. . . will proceed east to establish the "True Line" and mark it very plainly. ALL TREES WITHIN FIVE LINKS ARE TO BE DISTINCTLY MARKED WITH A STRONG CHOP ABOUT FOUR FEET FROM THE GROUND AND FACING THE LINE. JUST ABOVE THE CHOP IN THE TREE CUT "F" ON THE FLORIDA SIDE AND "A" ON THE ALABAMA SIDE. IF NO TREES ARE WITHIN FIVE LINKS OF THE LINE, ONE TREE FOR EACH CHAIN OF LENGTH WILL BE MARKED IF IT IS WITHIN FIFTY LINKS OF THE LINE.

Hey y'all,
If we don't preserve our heritage, nobody else will.
Robert Register