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María-de-la-Luz CORRAL

Female 1892 - 1981  (~ 89 years)

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  • Name María-de-la-Luz CORRAL 
    Born May 1892  Riva Palacio, Chihuahua, México Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Christened 11 Jul 1892  Riva Palacio, Chihuahua, México Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    AFN 4BZJ-01 
    Died Jul 1981  Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • (1) Source: Patricia M. Garcia .

      (2) Newport Mercury, Newport, RI, September 15, 1923, p. 6:

      Women in Various Parts of Mexico to Claim Estate Worth Millions.
      Torreon, Mexico. - Just how many wives did Francisco Villa have?

      The question, for years a subject for speculation as one Mrs. Villa after another was heard of, suddenly ceased to be academic when the former bandit leader was killed on his ranch in Durango recently.

      From an outlaw with no estate save the price on his head, Villa had become a large landholder, and his legal wife and children presumably can claim a large inheritance.

      Several alleged wives have already emerged from obscurity, and inquiries In Chihuahua, Durango and along the Mexican border indicate that several more will probably will do so. He is generally credited there with ten of them.

      Separated on Nuptial Day.

      A few days after the bandit chief's death a correspondent visited Mrs. Luz Corral Villa at Chihuahua City. Mrs. Luz Villa is of a type rare among Mexicans, a blue-eyed, golden-haired, magnificently built woman, with poise and personality. She is about thirty-six years old, and well educated. After her marriage she added to her education the accomplishments of painting and the piano.

      She was married to "General" Villa, as she always calls him, in 1908, in the Catholic church at San Andres, Mexico, she told the correspondent. They then went to Chihuahua to be married by the court, but before the ceremony could be performed Villa was captured and taken to Mexico City. Upon his return to Chihuahua several months later they were married by the court.

      Villa built a beautiful quinta for her on Tenth street in Chihuahua, of which the furnishings alone cost 60,000 pesos or more, she said, and lavished gorgeous jewelry and luxuries upon her. She claims he always spoke of her to his friends as his "only love."

      In 1910, during the trouble over the shooting of Americans, Villa sent Dona Luz to the United States for safety, where she remained until 1920.

      Villa and Dona Luz had no children, she says, but during most of the time she was in the United States she took care of and educated three of his children, whose mothers were unknown to her.

      In 1920 she returned to Mexico, and lived with Villa at Canutillo, his immense ranch. A few days after she arrived there, she declares, Villa brought another wife, Esther Cradone [sic; should be Cardona], into the house.

      Sent Mistress to Another Town.

      Nominally however, the large fair Dona Luz triumphed. She told Villa she would leave him if he did not send Esther away, and he yielded. But he sent her only as far as Chihuahua.

      The correspondent saw her there a few days ago, at Avenue Penitenciaria, No. 817. "Every time Villa came to Chihuahua he visited me," she declared: "and every time I received money from him."

      With Esther gone, peace returned to the ranch at Canutillo: but not for long. One day a letter came addressed to Villa in a woman's hand. It read: The lawyer that you sent was here to see my father, but my father is against our marriage because he believes you are already married. If you can prove the contrary, speak with my uncle, who lives in Parrel [sic; should be Parral]." It was signed, "Austaberta [sic; should be Austreberta] Renteria."

      Dona Luz knew the girl, she says. Austaberta [sic] had once told her that Villa had tortured her father by burning his feet off. Villa never got that letter, Dona Luz admits frankly.

      New Favorite Ousts Wife.

      But neither her influence nor suppression of the letter which had come into her hands could keep Villa from acquiring the new wife on whom he had his eyes. However he managed it, he presently brought Austaberta [sic] to Canutillo. Dona Luz protested in vain; they quarreled; he told her to leave, and she left penniless, according to her story.

      Villa, it is said, had a son by Austaberta [sic], who is still Iiving with his mother at Canutillo. She is believed to be the last wife with whom Villa lived.

      Both Esther and Dona Luz say their husband was always good to them in his way, never unkind, and that he always provided well for them. They say, too, that his main thought was the education of his children.

      Still another wife was found at Torreon, Coahuila. She is Paula Alamillo de Villa, young still, dark and slender, with magnificent eyes.

      She married Villa in 1914, when she was only fourteen years old. Her little girl, Evangeline, is now eight years old. She told a simple and straightforward story.

      Dreaded by Girl's Parents.

      "When Pancho Villa took possession of Torreon with his rebel horde," she said, "he saw me, in spite of the fact that wherever he went, all girls were immediately hidden from sight on account of the extreme dread with which all parents beheld him. Shortly afterward he secured my address. Although at that time I was only fourteen years old, Villa came to see my father and asked him for my hand in formal marriage, as is customary in this country, and offered my father $30,000, United States money, to assure his future from want.

      "In spite of this offer my father, knowing Villa's reputation, did not hesitate to turn the offer down. Villa's answer was that be always got what he wanted, and since he had the power necessary in this case, he would take me by force. This threat was immediately carried out, and Villa, with pistol in hand, forcibly married me. Just before the ceremony, probably as a sort of bribe to make me more friendly toward him, he gave me $5,000 American money to buy suitable clothes with.
      Says Villa Was Generous.

      "As long as Villa stayed in Torreon and lived with me, which was about a year, he treated me with every consideration, and gave me 500 pesos a month for expenses. It was toward the end of this year that our little daughter was born. Villa showed great love for her, and named her Evangeline.

      "The end of our short romance came when the federal troops drove Villa to the mountains in 1915, and I and my baby were left in Torreon with no means of support. I had to go to work as a seamstress, although I had never done such work before.

      "In 1921, when Villa surrendered to General Martinez, I hurried to Tiahualilo to see him, and he gave me some money and assured me my troubles were all over. He promised he would send some one to Torreon to arrange for a residence for me, but this promise was never kept.

      Expects to Be Left Out.

      "In spite of all that has happened I must say that throughout our relationship Villa was always very kind to me and seemed to want me to love him, or at least return in part his own love for me.

      "At present I do not know what arrangements he has made for me and the little girl, but I do not think we will get anything from his very rich estate."

      The story of Juana Torres de Villa has been told in several ways. She was a beautiful girl of pure Spanish stock, educated in the North. Her family became impoverished and she took a position in a store at Torreon, where Villa saw her in 1913. He seized her. She told him she would kill herself unless he married her, and he willingly went through the ceremony. According to most of the stories, she grew to love her captor. A baby girl was born, and Villa sent mother and child to Los Angeles.

      Death Reported in Los Angeles.

      It was reported in 1917 that she had gone to Chihuahua in the hope of rejoining him, and had been captured by the Carranzistas when they took the city, sent to Mexico City, and there shot by Villa's enemies.

      Later reports, however, told of her death in Los Angeles. The child has lived at the Canutillo ranch since then.

      Four other children of Villa are said to be known, with their mothers, all of whom are living in Canutillo. Several more women who have lived with Villa at various times now live in El Paso, and have signified their intention of asking for a share of the estate. - New York World.

      (3) The New York Times, March 27, 1930, Copyright © The New York Times:

      CHIHUAHUA, Mexico, March 26 (Associated Press) - Senora Luz Corral de Villa is the rightful widow and heiress of the famous outlaw leader Pancho Villa, a court here has held. The court awarded the former bandit chief's estate to her against the claims of Se??ora Austreberta Renteria de Villa, who maintained she was Villa's widow. The bandit was reported to have had several wives.

      (4) Katz, Friedrich, The Life and Times of Pancho Villa, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998, © 1998 by The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University, p. 908, footnote 102:

      The legality of Luz Corral's marriage to Villa was twice challenged in and twice upheld by the courts. In 1925, Austreberta [Rentería] challenged the validity of Luz Corral's marriage to Villa, stating that since the marriage certificate between Luz Corral and Villa was dated Dec. 16, 1915, it was invalid, because Chihuahua had then still been under Conventionist administration and the subsequent Carrancista administration had declared all the decisions of the Conventionist government to be illegal. Apart from the fact that neither the Carranza administration nor its successors ever revoked marriage licenses or other civil measures taken during the Conventionist period, it was at the very least very strange for the widow of Pancho Villa to base her claims on the theory that her husband's administration of Chihuahua had been illegal. . . .

      The more serious challenge to the legality of Luz Corral's marriage to Villa was submitted to the Mexican courts nine years later in 1934 by a lawyer representing Villa's daughter by Juana Torres. The accusation stated that the marriage license between Villa and Luz Corral was dated Dec. 16, 1915, but that Villa had married Juana Torres on Oct. 7, 1913, and since the latter died only in 1916, Villa had committed bigamy by marrying Luz Corral while his legal wife was still alive, and that his marriage to Luz Corral was thus invalid. The lawyer demanded that Juana Torres's daughter be declared Villa's sole heir. Somewhat strangely, this petition was supported by another widow of Villa's, Soledad Seañez, who declared that since Luz Corral's marriage to Villa was invalid and Juana Torres had died in 1916, her [Soldedad Seañez's] marriage to Villa, which had taken place on May 1, 1919, established her as Villa's sole legal widow. She was nevertheless ready to recognize Juana Torres's daughter as the only legal heir to Villa's properties.

      Luz Corral rejected these claims by stating that she had married Villa in 1911, but that the original marriage license had been lost, and the certificate of 1915 did not constitute a new marriage license but simply a ratification of a wedding that had already taken place in 1911. This was in fact stated in the marriage license of 1915, and the judge decided in favor of Luz Corral.

      (5) The New York Times, November 23, 1980, Copyright © The New York Times:

      Special to The New York Times

      CHIHUAHUA, Mexico - Wrapped in blankets, her thin hands fondling a green rosary, she sits all day in a wheelchair at the open door of the crumbling mansion-turned-museum that has been her livelihood since her husband's untimely death 57 years ago.

      Mention the Government, though, and Pancho Villa's 88-year-old widow comes alive, her blue eyes flashing, her sharp tongue giving sting to her words. "All the governments are the same," she said. "They just make promises. But I'm not going to beg them for anything."

      It is usually around election time that politicians stop by with photographers to pose beside Luz Corral de Villa and renew the pledge to arrange a pension for the revolutionary's destitute widow and to restore the mansion where the couple lived.

      But to this day, Doña Lucha, as she is known, lives off the 20-cent entrance fee to the museum and presides over the gradual collapse of the 70-year-old building, most of which she has already abandoned. "Soon there will be nothing to restore," she grumbled.

      Uncomfortable Reminder of Past

      In a political system born of the 1910-17 revolution and addicted to revolutionary oratory, this official neglect seems odd. Yet while the revolution is today largely a symbol, endlessly tampered with to suit contemporary realities, politicians may find Doña Lucha an uncomfortable reminder of the revolution as originally conceived, a living link to a past thought dead.

      Gen. Francisco Villa himself only recently made the transition from memory to myth. For decades after his assassination in 1923 he was recalled as a bloodthirsty bandit. But in the late 1960's he was transformed into a revolutionary hero, his name placed in gold letters in the Chamber of Deputies and his bones reburied in the Monument to the Revolution in Mexico City.

      Mexico's other great revolutionary, Emiliano Zapata, was also long ostracized by the successors to the regime that ordered his death in 1919. Finally, his name too was engraved in Congress, but his sons, disenchanted with recent "revolutionary" governments, refuse to allow his remains to be transferred from Morelos State to Mexico City.

      Doña Lucha, in contrast, clearly yearned for the status and recognition that she felt was due to General Villa's widow. And, perhaps feeling threatened by other pretenders to the title among the revolutionary's flock of mistresses, she quickly showed herself determined to live off the memory and in the powerful shadow of the slain rebel.

      In 1934, for example, she was invited to Hollywood for the opening of the movie "Viva Villa." In the late 1940's, the Villa mansion, known as La Quinta Luz, was visited by President Miguel Alemán Valdés. In 1963 she even traveled to Columbus, N.M., a border town attacked by Pancho Villa in 1916, for the unveiling of a statue of him.

      The museum is in fact as much a record of Doña Lucha's long career as General Villa's only legal widow as it is of her husband's life.

      There are, for example, pictures of her with Clark Gable in Hollywood and with Anthony Quinn when he was on a visit to his birthplace only a few blocks from La Quinta Luz, and there are pictures of her with generations of Mexican politicians and film stars. But there are no pictures of her with Pancho Villa.

      At the back of the mansion, however, in the area where the general's escort would stay, Corral de Villa has perhaps the ultimate proof of genuine widowhood: the bullet-riddled 1919 Dodge coupe in which the revolutionary was assassinated July 20, 1923, during a visit to the nearby town of Hidalgo Parral a few years after his retirement from politics.

      In the four-room museum, just a tiny rainproof corner of the 50-room house, there is also a newspaper clipping from 1911 announcing the general's marriage to the beautiful 19-year-old Luz Corral. They later had one child, a daughter, who died at the age of 18 months.

      Other mementos include a 1913 photograph of Pancho Villa with Gen. John J. Pershing, who three years later would comb Mexico's northern deserts seeking to avenge the revolutionary's attack on Columbus. Behind the two men in the photograph stood a young officer, George Patton.

      From 1915, there is also a Villa recruitment poster addressed to Americans. "Attention gringo," it proclaimed in English. "For gold and glory, come south of the border and ride with Pancho Villa, el liberator of Mexico. Weekly payments in gold to dynamiters, machine-gunners and railroaders. Enlistments taken in Juárez, Mexico. Jan. 1915. Viva Villa, viva revolution."

      After wandering among dusty uniforms and rusty rifles, though, the greatest surprise is to re-emerge and find Doña Lucha still alive, older than the building or any of the memorabilia, nodding impatiently at visitors requesting permission to enter, reading aloud from the afternoon paper and adding her own comments in language that only her hard-living husband could have taught her.

      In the mansion, once surrounded by fields and now enclosed by streets and houses, General Villa is stubbornly kept alive by his widow. "Perhaps the Government is waiting for Doña Lucha to die so it can take over Villa's memory," the tour guide at the mansion suggested. Doña Lucha looked around sharply at him and grunted. "Of course," the guide added quickly, and apologetically, "Doña Lucha is not going to die for a long time."
    Person ID I19197  Frost, Gilchrist and Related Families
    Last Modified 27 Jul 2021 

    Father José de Jésus CORRAL,   b. Abt 1866, México Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother Trinidad FIERRO,   b. Abt 1870, México Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F8549  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Gen. Pancho VILLA,   b. 5 Jun 1878, Río Grande, San Juan del Río, Durango, México Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Jul 1923, Parral, Chihuahua, México Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 45 years) 
    Married 1911  San Andrós, Chihuahua, México Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Last Modified 27 Jul 2021 
    Family ID F8547  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Sources 
    1. Details: Details: Details: Details: Details: Details: Details: Details: Details: Details: Citation Text: (2) Katz, Friedrich, TheLife and Times of Pancho Villa, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998, ?? 1998 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University, p. 907, footnote 93: In July 1923, the newspaper La Patria gave the following list of Villa's wives and children: ". . . Luz Corral de Villa. . . ." (La Patria, July 28, 1923).