Chico Cano: Did He Or Did He Not?

25 Apr

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.

Other notes:

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.

Prima Elisa


13 Responses to “Chico Cano: Did He Or Did He Not?”

  1. deeperrin August 5, 2011 at 12:47 PM #

    I love these stories. I just read Bosque Bonito by Robert Keil, and once again a new face to every story pops up. Thanks for your time and effort to post them online for the rest of us to read.

    Keep up the good work,
    Derrick Perrin

  2. rosendo evaro September 15, 2011 at 8:21 AM #

    it should be chito cano prima by..

    • rosendo evaro September 15, 2011 at 8:23 AM #


    • family March 10, 2012 at 5:13 PM #

      i am kin to the Chico Cano family. He’s my grandpa’s uncle and its Chico Cano they even call my grandpa Chico…

      • Esteban Torrez Marquez (Cano) November 5, 2012 at 4:08 PM #

        I’m related to Chico Cano via LIno Cano my late father. As such, I would love to chat with any family relatives. Please feel free to contact me at

      • Martha L Herrera April 10, 2013 at 4:20 PM #

        I am also related to Chico Cano (I am told). There is a story that has circulated for years that his real name was Jose Cano. I would very much like to clear this up with someone with family history. Please contact me at

  3. Charmaine Ortega Getz February 11, 2012 at 2:47 PM #

    Hola, Elisa,

    I’m trying to guess which Juan Sanchez you spoke to — there is a Juan Francisco “Chico” Sanchez who was married to Benita Calanche (I have no idea when he died), and their son of the same name, who died in 2001.

    Can you help?

  4. Phil Davidson April 1, 2013 at 10:08 AM #

    The US Army officer on the left and next to Chico Cano is my late Grandfather, John Arthur ‘Tiger Jack’ Considine, (1889 – 1960). He graduated from West Point in 1913 and was stationed with the 8th US Cavalry at Camp Marfa, Texas in 1920 – 21. One of my main hobbies now is genealogy and I have accumulated a great deal of information on his Army career, etc. I’m willing to share any data I have.

  5. Esequiel Barragan April 15, 2013 at 5:21 PM #

    My family owns Chico Canos 30/30 the pictures of his rifle in the book of “Pancho villa days in pillares” are courtesy of my grandpa Manuel Mendoza Barragan they spelled his name wrong though

    • Phil Davidson April 29, 2013 at 7:17 PM #


      I first became aware of Chico Cano when I was researching my family tree and I came across a photo taken in 1919 of Chico Cano along side of my late Grandfather, US Army Major John A ‘Tiger Jack’ Considine, (1889 – 1960) and Army Captain Leonard F Matlock (1881 -1950) at Candelaria, Texas, now, I believe a ghost town. The photo was taken after the ransom of $7,500.00 had been paid for the two Army pilots that had accidently landed inside of Mexico.

      Would you have any photos of Chico Cano that you might share and email to me?

      good hearing from you,

      Phil Davidson

  6. Mary Ehlers June 19, 2013 at 3:42 PM #

    While doing research for my family tree I was given a website:, where I might find more history on my family. There I found a book titled: Coyame the history of the American Settler that mentioned my grandfather (Fortino Sandoval) and my uncle (Apolonio Valdez) as being a part pf the Chico Cano group. This is all so very interesting and would like to know more.
    Mary Ehlers

  7. Family March 11, 2014 at 2:44 PM #

    This bring such great memories for my grandfather. If you have any question please feel free to email. He enjoys speaking about him. Sorry just saw this.

  8. Family March 11, 2014 at 2:47 PM #

    And his real name was Francisco “Chico” Cano my grandfather’s Mom was his sister. My grandfather was named after him.

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