Dr. Garrett, As U.S. Consul, Was in Thick of Activities on Border during 3 Revolutions

Gallipolis Daily Tribune
March 9 and 10, 1932
Transcribed by Henny Evans

     Few men, if any, in this section have had so many thrilling experiences as Dr. Alonzo Beaver Garrett of Gallipolis. He is in his 86th year, and one of the county's 24 surviving Union veterans. He is also commander of the local G.A.R. post. It is to the record of his consular service that attention is especially called. For 15 years he was stationed at Neuvo Laredo, Mexico, as consul for the United States, and was referred to by the state department as "the fighting consul."

Series of Revolutions
     His exciting experiences on the border came as a result of the revolutions that overthrew Porfirio Diaz, Francisco Madero and Victoriano Huerta. Nearly 11 years ago The San Antonio Express carried a story about Dr. Garrett on the occasion of a visit he paid to the border about that time.
     Dr. Garrett was born Jan. 20, 1847 at Lavalette, Wayne County, W.Va., which is but a short distance back of what is now Huntington. At the age of 14, while attending school, he enlisted in the Union army and became a drummer boy in Co. I, 14th Kentucky Infantry. On account of his youthfulness his parents obtained his release, but he soon returned to the army and was made a corporal of Co. B, 45th Kentucky infantry. 
     After the war he entered the teaching profession and in 1868 became principal of Guyandotte schools. At the of 23 he received his medical degree from Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinnati and for 30 years he practiced medicine in West Virginia and southern Ohio. In 1878, at Addison, he was married to Miss Libbie E. Jones. In the 90's he represented the Sixth district in the West Virginia Senate and served as assistant inspector general of the Grand Army of the Republic.
     In 1901 he went to Nuevo Laredo to take the post of consul. For a decade all was fairly quiet and serene, but in 1912 the garrison at that point joined the revolution headed by Huerta. Revolutionists captured an American-owned bank and were planning to dynamite the strong box. Consul Garrett interceded in behalf of the bank president who was held a prisoner. He made an agreement with General Villareal, the commander, that if the latter would liberate the bank president, an American citizen, he (Garrett) would turn over the bank keys, making it unnecceasry to use dynamite. This was done but Villareal got only Mexcian government money as all other valuables had been removed to the American side of the Rio Grande.
     Another story of Dr. A.B. Garrett's experiences as a consul for the United States along the Mexican border two decades ago was promised in Wednesday's paper. Sometime after his rescue of Henry Rippeteau, an American prospector, the nervy doctor's daring stand forced Maj. Muzquiz, a nephew of President Carranza and in command of the Carrarza forces at Hidaglo, to surrender to him Robert Hazelrigg, a Texas stockman, three other Americans, seven American-Mexican cowboys and 30 horses. They had been seized to compel payment of $5 a head for 800 cattle driven into Mexico, the duty on which had been paid to the Huerta government.
     Consul Garrett told Muzquiz that he was doing a serious thing by holding American(s) for ransom and that if he did not immediatley release the Americans and their belongings he would make Mexico too hot to hold him. The Mexican major tried to argue the matter from his point of view, but he only made Garrett the more determined to rescue the Americans. On departing, Consul Garrett told Muzquiz that he was coming back after the Americans and he was going to get them. Coming to Laredo, the American consul sent the State Department at Washington one of the hottest messages that ever went over the wires, being to the effect that, "I can remember the time when the American Government sent a battleship to Tripoli on account of Americans being held for ransom, and that no doubt they still have nerve enough to send an army to Mexico if necessary to rescue Americans held for ransom. Send a demand through col. Brewer, commander of Fort McIntosh, Tex., to the rebel Muzquiz for the immediate release of the 12 Americans he holds prisoners."
     The request was complied with and when Col. Brewer received instructions from the Secretary of War to demand the release of the Americans he sent the message to Consul Garrett, who was at Palafox, opposite Hidalgo, and stationing a lieutentant with five soldiers and six cowboys on the American banks of the Rio Grande, Consul Garrett and Col. Randolph, crossed the Mexican side and Garrett, without saying a word, flashed the telegram in the face of Muzquiz, who read it and turned pale Garrett remarking, "I have come after those Americans and I am going to take them back with me."
     Pretending to telephone his commanding officer, Muzquiz entered a room, took down the receiver of the telephone, but did not talk into it, and then returned and told Consul Garrett that his superior officer had instructed him (Muzquiz) to surrender the Americans and Consul Garrett walked away with his men and their belongings at midnight, leaving only the cattle behind, for that had been stampeded.

Famous "Dash Across Rio Grande"
     In the latter part of February, 1913, the famous kidnap[p]ing case of Clemente Vergara, a cattleman of Webb County, who had a ranch near Palafox, took place. Huertista soliders had stolen 13 head of horses from an island in the Rio Grande which was on the American side of the boundary river. When Vergara notified Consul Garrett of the horse thefts, the Consul called on the Huertista longmaster of Nuevo Laredo, Gen. Guardina, and demanded the return of the horses or pay therefor. Gen. Guardina filed the complaint with Maj. Galan commander of the garrison of Hidalgo, opposite the Vergara rapids and Galan in turn instructed Captain Apolonio Rodriguez to settle the matter with Vergara."
     Rodriguez sent a detachment up the Mexican side of the Rio Grande opposite Vergara's ranchhouse and sent word to Vergara that if he would come over to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande he would make payment for the horses taken by the Huertista soldiers. Vergara, accompanied by a friend, complied with the request of Rodriguez, expecting to get pay for the stolen animals. No sooner had Vergara landed from a skiff on the Mexican side than Huertista struck him in the back of the head with the butt of a revolver, and the friend of Vergara made his getaway by dashing into the brush and finally swimming the river to the American side. 
     Soon thereafter Vergara was executed, but from the day of the kidnapping Consul Garrett was busy on the case. The State Department had instructed him to make a full investigation, which he did, and informed the Washington department that Vergara had been executed and his body buried. Numerous demands were made on the City of Mexico in the matter, but to no avail. It remained now to prove that Vergara was dead, despite the reports of the Mexican authorities (Gen. Guajardo and Maj. Garza Galan) that Vergara had escaped and joined the Carrancista rebels.
     Consul Garrett finally got information that Vergara's body was buried in a certain place near Hidalgo and this information was conveyed to Washington and instructions came back to procure the body for burial by Vergara's relatives. On the mornlight [sic] morning of March 13, 1913, at about 1 o'clock, the notorious dash of American cowboys, all employees of Vergara's ranch, acting under order of Consul Garrett, who, with Capt. J.J. Sanders of the Texas Rangers occupied places on the American side, was made across the Rio Grande to recover Vergara's body.
     While the cowboys were at work in Hidalgo exhuming the body of Vergara, on the American banks of the Rio Grande one mile below Hidalgo were a series of campfires kept burning by Consul Garrett and Capt. Sanders and his Rangers to make the Huertista soldiers believe a large force of rebels were attempting to cross the river. This caused the entire Mexican garrison to move to near where the campfires were burning and prepare for battle, while the cowboys exhumed the body of Vergara and brought it to the American side shortly after 2 o'clock that morning, and the next day the body of Vergara was laid to rest in the Catholic Cemetery at Laredo, Tex.
     By this time the dash of the American cowboys acting under instructions of Consul Garrett had created a country-wide sensation and the City of Mexico filed complaint with Washington authorities that their country "had been invaded by American cowboys and Texas Rangers acting under an unscrupulous American consul and demanded their punishment." The American newspapers were filled with glaring headlines of the "dash across the Rio Grande," and when Mexico demanded punishment of the violators of the international law there was much laughter provoked on all sides...except in Mexico.

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