Winnebago County, Illinois
WILLIAM M'CLAY MEXICAN WAR VETERAN DEAD
LAST SURVIVOR OF CONFLICT WITH MEXICO LIVING IN ROCKFORD PASSED AWAY AT 5 O'CLOCK LAST EVENING AT AGE OF NINETY-THREE-YEARS--SERVED IN BATTERY C, THIRD U.S. ARTILLERY. FUNERAL SATURDAY AFTERNOON
William McClay, who fought through the Mexican war in the famous Ringgold battery, passed away yesterday afternoon at 5 o'clock at his home, 503 Island avenue, from the infirmities due to his advanced age of ninety-three years. The remains are at the M.H. McAllister undertaking parlors where they will be kept until the funeral services Saturday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock at Memorial hall, at which Rev. W.S. Feldwisch will officiate. G.L. Nevius Post No. 1, G.A.R., of which Mr. McClay was a member, will have charge of the interment in the west side cemetery. Mr. McClay was born at Chambersburg, Pa., April 1, 1822. After the Mexican war through which he served with battery C, third U.S. artillery in Gen. Bragg's brigade, he made his home for many years at Boone, Ia., coming here twenty-four years ago. Surviving him are his widow, who is his second wife, two sons, John McClay, Boone, Ia., and Jacob McClay, Clinton, Ia., a daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Smith, Boone, Ia, and an adopted daughter, Miss Elizabeth McClay, at home. There are several grandchilden and great-grandchildren. [--Rockford Republic, April 9, 1915]
REGIMENTS MAY BE CALLED
So long as the disturbance lasts in Mexico there is a chance that our local militia company will be called on at any time to do active duty.
The United States is well disposed toward Mexico, it is not inclined to take part in the family squabble, but there are such large American interests at stake, and so many Americans whose live may be in jeopardy in the southern republic that aggressive measure may be forced on the government. At last the local companies are expected to hold themselves in readiness for a call. That is the first duty of the soldier. That they will give a good account of themselves should peace be broken and an invasion ordered, no one will doubt. Rockford soldiers have won honors and fame on many battlefields. If their country calls them from Rockford men will go forth once more to take the chance of a soldier. [--Rockford Republic, May 2, 1912]
WALKS 400 MILES TO THE AMERICAN LINE AND SAFETY
FORMER ROCKFORD MAN TELLS OF THE PERILS HE FACED WHILE IN MEXICO
PEACE IS NOT IN SIGHT
More than four hundred miles on feet, more than four hundred miles through a devasted country, more than four hundred miles through a country where an American is held in scorn, more than four hundred miles back to civilization. This is the record of John A. Palmer, a locomotive engineer on the international railroad of Mexico, who has just arrived in Rockford, a city he left thirty-eight years ago. Palmer comes back seeking work. He spent thirteen years and the best years of his life in Mexico, and he left that desolate country because he believed the life of no American was safe. He had to walk out. No railroad trains were running because the bridges had been burned and the tracks torn up and it was either walk to safety or take a chance on being locked up in some Mexican jail and remained there until friends had forgotten whether he was alive or dead. John Palmer is an American citizen, but he feels his government has not done what it should to protect its citizens. He lived in Mexico when John Hay was the scretary of state in McKinley's cabinet and he tells of efforts made by the American locomotive engineers in Mexico to get their due for Americans locked Americans locked in Mexican prisons and of the success they had--which was not success at all.
Looking for a Job
Palmer is living at a boarding house at Seventh street and Second avenue. He is looking for a job. He believes there is work in Rockford for a man who lived his early years in this city, and he is not particular about the kind of work he gets. He wants a job.
John Palmer is one of those men who speaks kindly of everybody. He does not like to htink that even the Mexicans are all bad, but when he talked with a newman last night his eyes apit fire when he told of some of the indignities that had been heaped on the Americans by the Mexicans, and he shuddered when he predicted what is likely to happed when the Huerta regime fails, and he believes it will fail, to be succeeded by Felix Diaz or some other revolutionary leader. He believes blood will continue to flow until some country steps in and bids trouble stop, and he says this bidding will have to be done at the point of the bayonet and the unsheathed sabre.
John Palmer's story was told in simple langauge. He got a bit angry when he spoke of the Mexicans meeting the Americans, patting them on the back and speaking honeyed words to them, but the minute their backs were turned the word "gringo" was used, which is almost an epithet to an American in Mexico, and it is so intended by the Mexicans.
"I spent thirteen years in Mexico," Palmer said last night. "as a locomotive engineer on the International road. After the first revolution, when Diaz was deposed and the bridges were burned and the tracks torn up fifteen Americans including myself, started to walk from Acambro to the international line at Laredo. We were five weeks in covering the distance of more than four hundred miles, and those of us who crossed the line at the time were glad we were back on American soil, even through we were footsore and in rags. We figured that anything was better than remaining in Mexico and taking a chance of being locked up in prison and perhaps forgotted by the Mexican authorities."
The salient feature Mr. Palmer's interview are:
American life and property are not safe in Mexico.
The Mexicans hate the Americans because of the war of 1846.
Americans are thrown in jail and are forgotten by the Mexican authorities.
A man arrested in Mexico has got to prove himself innocent of the charge brought against him. The government or the state does not attempt to prove a man guilty of any charge, and if the prisoner does not attempt to prove his innocence he is likely to remain in jail until he rots. The great majority of the Mexican people are ignorant and are thieves. Seventy-five per cent of the population cannot read and write and they are governed by the other 25 per cent which is composed of the landed interests.
Huerta Must Fall
Madero was popular with the people. Huerta is not.
(?) feeling is that Huerta must (?) when he does his successor should he be one of the revolutionary leaders will be subjected to the same treatment that is being given to Huerta now.
Felix Diaz will lead the next revolution. He is popular with both parties in Mexico and will be able to gather a large following from both sides. It will be years before Mexico is in a settled condition again. Huerta will be deposed in time because the rebels have the strongest army and there is disaffection among the government troops. The Japanese will prove an important factor in the future politics of Mexico. They are scattered all over the country, control the eating houses on all the railroads and are looked on as a part of the Mexican life and are welcomed while other foreigners are hated.
Mr. Palmer went on to say that there is a thieves market in the City of Mexico, where a citizen, should his house be robbed or his person be robbed, is compelled to go and buy his property back. Palmer says the soldiers and police protect the thieves and levy tribute on them. Mr. Palmer saw but one battle when he was in Mexico and that was at Acambro between the rebels and the government troops.
The rebels entered (?) said, and fired on the (?). A few hours later they would make another entrance to the city and retire again. Mr. Palmer called it skirmish fighting and he did not think much of it as a battle, but he said the Mexicans apparently were well satisfied. Mr. Palmer has returned to the United States to stay. He says thirteen years among the "Greasers" was enough for him, and he does not believe the present generation will live to see a time when peace will be restored in Mexico unless there is intervention by some other country. [--Rockford Morning Star, March 25, 1914]
RETURNED SOLDIER TELLS OF BORDER WAR EXPERIENCES
ROCKFORD BOY IN THIRD CAVALRY RELATED SCOUTING INCIDENTS ON RIO GRANDE NIGHT IN MEXICAN JAIL
Norman Stewart, a member of Troop U. Third Cavalry arrived in Rockford Thursday for a visit with his family at 609 Hulin street before re-enlisting. Mr. Stewart received his discharge at Fort Sam, Houston last Tuesday. During the past three years, the third cavalry has been doing scout and patrol duty along the Mexican border between San Antonio and Eagle Pass, a distance of about three hundred miles. Mr. Stewart, while not actually in Mexico, recounts some thrilling experiences with the roving bands of guerillas which rove up and down the south bank of the Rio Grande. At one time, Stewart and a comrade in uniforms were arrested and imprisoned in the great Mexican prison at Pledras Negras across the river from Eagle Pass, Texas. He states that Uncle Sam's khaki was the only thing which prevented their captors from shooting them against an adobe wall at sunrise. The two cavarymen were conducting a private scouting party into the conditions of the Mexican city and were apprehended before they could reach their horses and recross the river. These expeditions, while unathorized by their superior officers, were not frowned upon by them, as the information gained would be of the highest value in the event of war. In fact, all the men of the third cavalry were being perfected in the Mexican geography for scout duty across the border when war was declared.
Brush With Rebels
Another brush of an exciting nature took place when a detachment of four troopers were robbed of a supply of ammunition by a party of Constitutionalists. Blake, who was guarding the cartridges, was killed and the robbers were well on their way into Mexican territory before Blake's companions learned of their loss. Not being allowed to fire upon any Mexican, the three procured a boat, crossed into Mexico and captured the robbers and their spoils without firing a shot. Mr. Stewart insists that the ruling which prevented firing on any Mexican was a great handicap to the proper policing of the international boundary. Stewart speaks in the highest praise of the aeorplane as a medium for scouting in the enemy's country. He made several ascents in the ill-fated No. 11 in which Lieutenant Call of the aviation corps was later killed.
Poor Opinion of Mexicans
When asked his opinion as the the result of a war with Mexico, Mr. Stewart gave it as his belief that it would not be so much the conquering of Mexican forces as the stamping out of the uprising in the scattered bands of bandits which infest the countyr. There is apparently no difference among the soldiers of Carranza, Villa and Huerta as far as the American soldier on the border can see. They are notoriously poor marksmen, have little or no instruction in drillin and are poorly clothed, fed and officered. The Mexican soldier is just about as willing to fight his brother in arms as he is the so-called American invader. "One party is as bad as the other," is the way Stewart expressed what he had seen of the civil war.
The third cavalry's chief objection to Huerta is that he hung their Mexican butcher to the flag pole at the international bridge at Eagle Pass after he had taken the town of Piedras Negras. This butcher had been in the habit of crossing into Mexico, killing his beef and returning to the American camp. When Huerta stormed the town, he attempted to recross the bridge, but was captured at strung up without ceremony.
The great refugee camp is at Eagle Pass and it was to prevent the inhabitants of Piedras Negras from reaching it that Huerta established the blockade. A similar blockade had already been established by the soldiers of the United States on the American side to prevent the passage of arms into Mexico. Mr. Stewart served for some little time as one of the bridge guards. [--Rockford Morning Star, May 17, 1914]
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