At the beginning of my genealogy research, one of my goals was to locate “ol’-timers” who had known Chico Cano, the reputed killer of River Guard, Joe Sitter (Texas Ranger). On my 2nd trip to Ojinaga, primo Manuel Tercero Proano (Ojinaga presidente) introduced me to Victor Sotelo Mata, the future presidente. Victor, who is as passionate about La Junta history as I, was collecting material for his book: “OJINAGA EN UNA LOMA”. We were driving around the town when I brought up the subject of Chico and the killing of Ranger Joseph Sitter. Victor listened intently. Before I knew it, he had swung his Pick-Up around and we were crossing the Rio Grande into Presidio, Texas. I did not ask, nor did he offer an explanation, as to where we were going. We soon arrived at the home of a Juan Sanchez and, after brief introductions, Victor brought up the subject of Chico and the Joe Sitter killing.
Mr. Sanchez spoke reverently and proudly about his “Tio Chico”. He told about the time that a couple of “gringos” wanted to witness Chico’s remarkable “marksmanship”. After hitting every target that they put in his way, one of the men took off his watch and hung it on a mesquite, quite a distance away.
“No-no” Chico protested, “I don’t want to ruin your watch!”
“Go ahead”, insisted the Gringo. “You’ll never hit it from this distance”.
Chico reluctantly shot the watch to bits.
Chico must have been a very impressive figure in his own day. Joyce Means wrote the following in her book: “John Wilson, who was a child at the time, told how Chico made a “quirt” for him out of horse mane and a piece of his boot. Wilson’s father told him to keep the quirt because Cano was going to be “Very Famous” one day.
As for Joe Sitter:
According to Juan Sanchez: “Tio Chico” had it in for Sitter because he had beaten him with a lasso, even as he sat captured and tied atop his horse. Chico’s friends witnessed the incident across the Rio Grande and rode fast to tell Chico’s brothers what was happening. The group then sped ahead (on the Mexico side of the border) and headed off the Sitter contingent, and they rescued Chico.
Joyce Means: “PANCHO VILLA DAYS IN PILARES” expresses doubts about Chico having killed Sitter. But, according to Juan Sanchez: “Chico met a lone Sitter in a narrow pass one day and shot him dead”.
This account differs from others in recorded history, but it is the first I’ve heard from a direct family member.
Juan Sanchez was nephew of Francisco Sanchez, who played a role in the release of two American pilots who had mistakenly landed on the Mexican side of the border, and were held for ransom by Jesus “El Mocho” Renteria. Jose De La Cruz Sanchez delivered the ransom money thereby resulting in the obtaining of the two pilots. He was rewarded with permission to enter the United States at any time.
General Jose De La Cruz Sanchez of Mexican Revolution fame was another Uncle of Juan Sanchez.