Guillermo Zapien is my 3x great-grandfather. Apparently, he used to run with Pancho Villa. For those of you who missed the lesson in history class about the Mexican Revolution (probably because it wasn’t taught), the oversimplified version is that the war was from 1910-1920 and it created a new government. Pancho Villa was a Mexican revolutionary, bandit, and guerrilla leader who fought against oppressive governments and advocated for those in poverty, especially during the Revolution. He had many friends and many enemies and like most people in history, he was a flawed human. While he died a wealthy man, he died with a little bit less wealth than he wanted because of Guillermo.
Guillermo worked for Pancho Villa and was supposed to hide gold for Pancho Villa. So Guillermo did. He then drew a map to the money and was supposed to give that map to Pancho Villa. But Guillermo knew better—or at least was told better. If he gave that map to Pancho Villa, Guillermo would have been killed right after to ensure that only Pancho Villa knew where the money was hidden. Instead of telling where the money was, Guillermo ran. He made it over the border and into El Paso, Texas but not before being shot in his grand escape.
He lived to tell the tale. This tale would be told over and over to his grandson, my great grandfather Chico. Guillermo told Chico that one day, they’d travel to the mountains in Juárez to find that gold. Guillermo still knew where it was. Guillermo died before ever taking Chico to find their gold. It may still be sitting there, waiting for someone to find it.
As always, I have no idea if this story is true with a capital T. What I do know is that this is the story that has been passed down. The stories families tell about themselves sometimes will reveal more about the family regardless of the truth. Don’t get too caught up in the story, get caught up in what your ancestors are trying to tell you.
And if you’re related to Pancho Villa and you’ve read this… no you didn’t.