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George Cupples Carothers- Villa Watcher*
Posted by: Carter Rila Date: May 06, 1999 at 19:04:14
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Greetings,
I have been researching off and on the career of George Cupples Carothers, who was a U.S. consular agent resident in Torréon, Neuvo Leon, Mexico in 1910. During the Madero Revolution of 1911 he reported to the U.S. State Department on events there and elsewhere. During the Mexican Civil War of 1913-1915, Carothers was the U.S. representative and intelligence agent appointed to accompany the forces of Francisco "Pancho" Villa.
He was born in San Antonio, TX, in 1878 and as a young lad was taken to Mexico, where he grew up muy simpatico; some of the more chauvinistic yanquis resident there considered him a "traitor to his race". Because he was U.S. consular agent, he was in place and because he was known to be friendly to the revolutionists, he was readily accepted by Villa as a compañero. He continued to accompany Villa until his defeat in the spring of 1915 by forces commanded by Alvaro Obregon. In the event, the Villistas was driven back to the Arizona border and his forces were finally dispersed after the Battle of Agua Prieta in October 1915. At this time the Wilson administration recognized Villa's opponents, the Carranzistas as the de facto government of Mexico.
After the defeat, Villa and a few hundred men, withdrew into the Sierras, to emerge in March, leading the Columbus Raid.
After Carothers left the Villista forces he continued to roam the border, while residing in El Paso, TX. It is not clear when he ceased to be an active intelligencer but he remained friends with Gen. John J. Pershing, who, before he had commanded the Punitive Expedition, had been the border patrol commander at Fort Bliss, El Paso, TX. They kept in touch until GCC's death. Subsequently, GCC's widow, Minna Hall Carothers, continued to keep in touch with Pershing until his death. I have mined the Pershing papers in the LC for all relevent materials on GCC. Minna Hall died in the 1950s.
Both Carothers are listed in the NYT Obituary Index. GCC 3 times. He even rated a front page article in the NYT. So many people came to his funeral that they had to stand in the street.
All in all, a once popular and well-known man but now forgotten in the mist stirred up by subsequent events of the Great War and after.
GCC's early life and career is well documented in State Department personnel files, and his reporting and revolutionary career is well summarized in Larry Hill's Emissaries to A Revolution.
There are scattered mentions of him in both Obregon's and Villa's memoirs; the former did not favor him because he was considered to be on the other side, even though that was his assigned duty, and Villa, who seems by inference to have been influenced heavily by GCC in dealing with the crisis caused by the Vera Cruz occupation in 1914, and the English cattleman Benton's murder by Villa's right hand man, Fierro, would have been reluctant to publicly say so.
In the event, Carothers never returned to Mexico to live, and ended up by the twenties in New York City, where he was in business and married Minna Hall, a businesswoman in her own right.
In 1920 he was living in Rochester when he testified about the Columbus Raid before the Fall Committee investigating Mexican "raids and atrocities".
Carothers never appeared in the 1910 Census and was not important enough at the time of compilation to be included in a Directory of American residents in Mexico which is on Microfilm in the LC. GCC does appear in various NYC Manhattan Directories and in the 1925 NY Census but little detail is to be gained therefrom. I could not find him in any El Paso sources of the time except for an address.
GCC was married while resident in Torréon and had one son. But in accord with the custom of the time she is always referred to as "and wife". No record have I found gives her name. I had originally thought she had died, because several sources said she was sickly, and searched cemetary and death records for the period but when I got GCC and Minna Hall's marriage certificate, it stated GCC had been divorced. Although it is not really important to the story, I really want to find the first wife's name and what happened to her and the son. The obituary stated that he was in Buenos Aires, Arg., but a check of recent phone books revealed nothing of the name. There were supposed to be a brother or cousins in 1943 living in Mexico.
I intend to write his biography and want to fill in the last twenty years of his life and to find his personal papers, if indeed they still exist. His existing reports in the National Archives reveal an intelligent and hail-fellow-well-met type who enjoyed life and remained life long friends with many persons of renown.
*The watcher reference is to the Highlander TV series.

Carter Rila 301-869-5391. Ring at least seven times so I can get to the phone.


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