Paper Money of Chihuahua

.. by Simon Prendergast

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The vales issued in Hidalgo del Parral

In the middle of 1913, because of the disruption in communications and the scacity of small change, certain companies in Parral and the surrounding area began to issue their own fractional paper currency. These valores de trabajo were payable to the bearer on presentation in the company's offices as soon as communications were restored (al portador una vez que se reanuden las comunicaciones, en sus oficinas de esta ciudad, á la presentación de esto).

Many businesses and individuals were unwilling to accept some of these vales, and General Manuel Chao issued a circular calling upon the issuers to formally request permission and to offer adequate guarantees. In consequence, on 22 September 1913 Chao issued a decree that people should accept the notes of the Compañía Ferrocarril Parral y Durango; the Alvarado Mining and Milling Company; the San Francisco del Oro Mining Company; the Concurso Mexico Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company; San Pedro, Guanaceví and E.T.Notts, Guanaceví, and not accept the Fundicion de Fierro y Bronce, the El Rayo Mining and Development Company, the Mina La Cumbre y La Bufa or any other company that was not on the list of acceptable notesAMP, Tesorería, Tesorería, Correspondencia, caja 164, exp. 1.

Later on, the Minas Tecolotes y Anexas; Veta Colorada y Anexas; Mina Veta Grande y Anexas and the Cia Agricola y de Fuerzas Electrica del Rio de Conchos were added to the listAMP, Guerra, Comandancia Militar, Correspondencia, caja 2, exp. 6, and on 27 September, after giving adequate guarantees, the Minas La Cumbre y La Bufa were authorised to issue notes that would be of forced circulationAMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Correspondencia, caja 68, exp. 2.

On 5 October 1913 Villa, while at Torreón, decreed that the notes issued by the various companies in Chihuahua and Durango should be accepted as legal tender until such time as they were redeemed. He, for his part, would ensure that the companies honoured their paper¡Patria Libre!, Durango, 10 October 1913. In a decree of 15 December 1913 the commander in Durango, Coronel E. R. Nójera, listed the bonos of Parral amongst the revolutionary issues that were of forced circulation in that state ¡Patria Libre!, Durango, 23 December 1913.

Once the Chihuahuan rebels issued their own currency, they quickly moved to stamp out other issues. On 23 December 1913 Villa ordered that the vales issued by certain Mexican and foreign-owned businesses (casas comerciales mexicanas y extranjeras) since the beginning of the revolution should be exchanged for revolutionary paper currency. However, in Parral they did not have the new currency and on 29 December General Luis Herrera, the Jefe de Armas issued a circular that the vales should continue to be accepted. Local businesses were less willing and on 31 December formed themselves into a “Unión Mercantil” that demanded that the issuers give adequate guarantees to business and the public in generalAMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Libros minutarios, 1913, AL12-13-000-102 letter to Presidente Municipal, 10 January 1913.

On 6 January 1914 the Presidente Municipal received copies of the notice that only sábanas and Constitucionalist issues were of forced circulationAMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Libros minutarios, 1913, AL12-13-000-102 and on 12 January 1914 the Secretario de Gobierno told him to make sure that these companies did not issue any more vales. He therefore wrote to the various companies and to the printers in the city informing them of the edictibid..

On 23 January 1914 Governor Chao set a deadline of 31 January for exchanging these irregular issues, though on 31 January the government extended the deadline: 5 February within the city of Chihuahua and 10 February outsidePeriódico Oficial, 1 February 1914. The notice refers specifically to mining scrip (vales de compañías mineras). Thereafter anyone in possession of such notes would be deemed a counterfeiter. Chao made a similar pronouncement in ParralEl Paso Morning Times, 2 February 1914.

On 12 February 1914 Silvestre Terrazas wrote to Tomás Lizárraga D., the Administrador Principal del Timbre, in Parral, thanking him for the details that he had sent about these vales. It was planned to exchange them for Chihuahua money, but they did not yet have enough notes. In the meantime Terrazas instructed the Presidente Municipal to acknowledge (haga efectivos) the vales he listed with the exception of banks that did not have any branches in the state and the Concurso México Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company, who had already agreed to back their notes with their bullionST papers.Part I, box 84. The same day the Secretario de Gobierno told the Presidente Municipal to ensure that the companies redeemed immediately, in silver or on cheques drawn on a Chihuahua or foreign bankAMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Libros minutarios, 1913, AL12-13-000-102. Presumably paying the Tesorería rather than individual holders..

Thus, the vales were gradually redeemed, although it took some time because of a delay in receiving sufficient of the new sábanas with which to replace them. It was also not without difficulties: when the Tesorero Municipal heard that the Recaudación de Rentas had received funds to make the exchange, it sent over $1,000 in vales, but the Recaudación only accepted $500, claiming that the rest were too well used, and the Administración del Timbre refused to accept other vales with which the Tesorería tried to pay its taxesAMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Correspondencia, caja 69, exp 1 report of Tesorero Municipal, 18 February 1914. On 5 March the “Unión Mercantil” was still complainingAMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Correspondencia, caja 69, exp 1.

However, it is obvious that as well as the issues during Chao’s time some companies made further issues at later dates when the shortage (or unacceptabilty) of other money demanded it. Thus, the Alvarado Mining and Milling Company and the Minas Tecolotes y Anexas were paying their workers with some sort of scrip in the first half of 1916 .

On 16 December 1917 the Presidente Municipal of Parral and a special commission met with the representatives of various companies to try to resolve outstanding issues but they could discover few hard facts. Most of the companies’ representatives could claim that they were not around at the relevant time and unfortunately (or conveniently) most records had been destroyedAMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Actas, caja 23, exp 19.

The companies or individuals who issued vales were:

The Alvarado Mining & Milling Company

The large Alvarado Mining and Milling Company, which operated the mine at La Palmilla, just outside Parral, must have issued at least three different denominations in 1913, viz. 50c, $1, and $10 though only the $1 note is known. When Lorenzo Frauco was arrested in Parral in December 1913 for counterfeiting he had in his possession $177.50 in notes of the company, hence the 50c; the $1 is known dated 10 July 1913; and a forged $10 note, numbered 15246 and dated 19 May 1913, was an exhibit in another trialUnless the $10 note was an altered $1 note. AMP, [ ].

The notes were printed by A. L. Cohoon, a printing press in Parral that also produced the Parral Miner, and guaranteed by J. McQuatters, a major shareholder, with the security being lodged in an El Paso bank. At the time the general manager was a Mr. Long and the accountants (contadores ) Johnson and LongAMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Actas, caja 23, exp 19. These notes were redeemed in sábanas.

In June 1916 the Presidente Municipal Interino of Parral, José de la Luz Herrera, reported to Chihuahua that the Alvarado, without oficial authorisation, was again paying with vales, that had a guaranteed value of 25c oro americano, and that this was having a depreciating effect on the recently introduced infalsificablesAMP, Gobieno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Libros Minutarios, AL12-13-000-103. On 22 July 1916, probably on the prompting of the Chihuahua government, de la Luz Herrera wrote to Carranza urgently asking whether the company could continue paying in these valesAMP, Gobieno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Libros Minutarios, AL12-13-000-111. Given that Carranza was a stickler for constitutionalilty, he will almost certainly have refused, but the company soon after suspended operations when General Jacinto B. Treviño prohibited the export of silver.

The company’s local records were destroyed when Villa seized them in November 1916.

La Fundicion de Fierro y Bronce de Parral

Fundicion de Fierro y Bronce $5

La Fundicion de Fierro y Bronce de Parral issued valores, for one, five and ten pesos, dated 11 July 1913 and signed by H. C. Walter. In a letter of 27 October 1913 to the Jefe de Armas in Parral Villa mentioned that a friend had over $1,000 in these notes and asked the Jefe to arrange for them to be encashed letter by permission of Ing. Benjamine Herrera Vargas in Mexican Revolution Reporter, 17, May 1950.

These notes were unknown until 1984 when a large group consisting of $1, $5 and a single $10 came onto the market.

Compañía del Ferrocarril Parral y Durango (Parral y Durango Rail Road Company)

Parral and Durango RailroadThe Parral y Durango Rail Road Company was incorporated in Colorado in 1898 and owned the line from Minas Nuevas, Chihuahua to Paraje Seco, Durango, built under a concession granted on 29 June 1898. From Rincón it had a narrow gauge branch line to Parral, which connected with the Parral branch of the Mexican Central Railroad.

This company made an issue in 1913 to pay its workers because of the shortage of banknotes, though its representative thought that the total amount was very insignificant, and might have made another issue in 1916. The notes were signed either by R. J. Long, the general manager, or by J. Reno Wilson. Unfortunately, the company’s records were reduced to ashes in one of the Villista raidsAMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Actas, caja 23, exp 19 evidence of Manual Cortés.

Minas Tecolotes y Anexas

Minas Tecolotes y Anexas $10

Santa Bárbara is a historic mining town about twenty-five kilometres south-west of Parral.Santa Barbara

The Minas Tecolotes y Anexas in Santa Bárbara were part of the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO). In March 1913 General Manuel Chao had approached the managers there, demanding $5,000 to pay for the “protection” provided by his troops. When the superintendent, W. P. Schumacher, refused the demand, Chao explained that without the money, he might not be able to prevent his own forces from raiding the mines. Schumacher reluctantly gave General Chao $2,750Washington National Records Center, Record Group 76, Mexican Claims Division, Awarded Claims, 1924-1938, box 221, docket 2312.

The company issued a $10 note in 1913, also printed like other companies' valores by the Printsman press, with the inkstamped signature of the cashier (cajero) and superintendent (superintendente). These were issued later than the Parral notes because coinage continued to circulate longer in Santa Barbara and the company was able to pay in efectivo when in Parral they had already issued notesAMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Actas, caja 23, exp 19. When the coinage dried up the local authorities and commerce suggested the vales, which represented money drawn on Mexico City or El PasoAMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Correspondencia, caja 69, exp 1 letter of superintendent Gilbert, 21 February 1914: these were redeemed in legal tenderAMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Actas, caja 23, exp 19.

Minas TecolotesThese $10 notes were counterfeited, as a Teódulo Talamantes had presented a false note in the company’s offices, and then asked the local authority to start an investigationibid..

On 21 February 1914 the company’s superintendent, L G. Gilbert, reported to the Presidente Municipal in Parral that the company had not been using their notes (contraseñas) for some time though it was difficult to redeem them because of the lack of sábanas and asked for permission to make payment in banknotes (billetes de Banco) for sums greater than five pesos, and in their own $1 notes for smaller amountsibid..

When the company renewed operations in 1915/1916, because the public was refusing to accept the legally-forced Carrancista currency, the company’s employees themselves asked to be paid with vales of 25 centavos oro (americano). These were later redeemed and by December 1917 only $126.75 was outstandingibid..

The Tecolotes mines are still being worked by Grupo México.

Veta Colorada y Anexas

The Veta Colorada mine was also in Santa Bárbara.

The El Rayo Mining and Development Company

The El Rayo Mining and Development Company was an American-owned mine in Santa Bárbara.

Veta Grande y Anexas

The Veta Grande y Anexas, at Minas Nuevas (now Villa Escobedo) was part of the same group of companies as Minas Tecolotes y Anexas but issued its own vales.

Minas de la Cumbre y la Bufa

The Minas de la Cumbre y la Bufa were at Roncesvalles, ten kilometres south of Parral.

In 1913 Georges Chabriere, the mines’ engineer (ingeniero) issued $5,000 in vales. A valor for twenty-five centavos, dated [ ] is known.

By 27 September 1913 Eduardo Ricaud, representing the Casa Comercial “A. Ricaud y Cia.” had provided an adequate surety to the Cuartel General in Parral and the notes were declared of forced circulationAMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Correspondencia, caja 68, exp. 2. A Ricaud y Cia ran the "Fabricas de Francia", situated in the Plaza Hidalgo, but on 28 February 1914 was forced to close down because of a shortage of stockAMP, Tesorería, Tesorería, Correspondencia, caja 165, exp. 1.

The San Francisco del Oro Mining of Mexico LimitedSan Francisco del Oro

San Francisco del Oro is a beautiful mining town, about fifteen kilometres north of Santa Bárbara. The mine is still being worked and the ore is carried across the town to the crusher on an aerial tramway.

The San Francisco del Oro Mining Company Limited was an English company, with most of its properties within San Francisco del Oro.

Mina El Caballo

This company issued notes in 1913 and redeemed them early in 1914.

On 11 February 1914 the manager of the El Caballo, Miguel Tinoco, was robbed in Jiménez and among other things the thief, José Barcenas, took a packet of cancelled notes. Barcenas was a linesman (celador de telegrafos) on the railways, working between Ortiz, Ciudad Chihuahua and Ciudad Juárez. He lent $80 (in sixteeen $5 notes) to Bernardino Galindo, who spent two in Parral. When these were shown to Tinoco to check if they were valid or not, Tinoco was able to identify the miscreants and Galindo was subsequently arrested in Santa Bárbara with the other $70. Senora Dolores Herrara, of Santa Bárbara, had also received a cancelled $5 from Felipe Camarillo, who was in charge of repairs to the railway (cabo de reparaciones de la via de los Ferrocarriles Nacionales). An order for Barcenas’s arrest was sent to Chihuahua on 18 FebruaryAMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Libros minutarios, 1913, AL12-13-000-102 and passed on to the Inspector General de Policía on 22 FebruaryAlmada Collection, roll 810, 1472..

However, the company could also have issued notes in 1916 because in 1917 its representative, Isaac Zepeda, reported that notes were redeemed mostly in gold, silver or in dollars at a rate of two for one, and very few notes were outstanding (unless he was referring to the late redemption of 1913 notes, or did not want, in 1917, to acknowledge that the company had redeemed them with Villista currency)AMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Actas, caja 23, exp 19.

Compañía Agricola de Luz y Fuerza del Río Conchos, S.A

Compañía Agricola de Luz y Fuerza del Río Conchos $5

The Compañía Agricola de Luz y Fuerza del Río Conchos, S.A. gained its concession, including the establishment of a tienda de raya, on 7 December 1906. On 23 October 1909 it was granted a concession to build a railway from Ciudad Camargo to La Boquilla.

We know of a valor de trabajo for five pesos, dated 4 August 1913.

Señor Natividad Reyes

Natividad Reyes, of Santa Bárbara, issued a 75 centavos valor, Series C, dated 26 December 1913 to be paid in his casa (commercial) once traffic with Mexico City had been renewed.

Concurso México Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company

Although geographically in Durango, Guanaceví had close ties with Parral. The Concurso México Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company issued a light blue $5 note, dated 15 November 1913, signed by Alberto Terrones BenítezAlberto Terrones Benítez was another example of how any gains of the Revolution were dissipated. Terrones Benítez worked as an attorney for foreign mining companies doing business in Durango during the most violent years of the Mexican Revolution, sometimes managing his clients' affairs from the relative security of offices in El Paso, Texas. After his selection in 1917 as Cuencamé's diputado in the Carrancista state legislature, he reincarnated himself as an agrarian reformer, to emerge by 1925 as the principal organizer of government-sponsored campesino organizations in Durango. The fortuitous, simultaneous elimination of local leaders like José María Carreón Rodríguez and radical ideologues like José Guadalupe Rodríguez left agrarianism in Durango exclusively in the hands of government functionaries like Terrones Benítez, who not coincidentally was the founder of the Partido Nacional Revolucionario in Durango in 1929. To some extent, then, the dramatic agrarian reforms of the Cardenas regime later in the 1930s were redundant or even irrelevant in Durango, where a state-level corporatist structure of political control, based on government-sponsored rural organizations and official agrarian reform, had already emerged. and possibly other denominations.

A notice dated 26 December 1913 stated that henceforth the company’s vales would not be accepted in public offices and their circulation was prohibited as the company was apparently insolvent, but by 31 December it had give adequate security to the state government and the Presidencia Municipal was told that it could receive and exchange this moneyAMP, Tesorería, Tesorería, Correspondencia, caja 165, exp. 1 telegarm from Silvestre Terrazas, Secretario de Gobierno, 31 December 1913.

On 3 January 1914 the Presidente Municipal asked holders of these Concurso vales to report on Wednesday, 7 January, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. or from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. so that he knew how many notes were outstanding and how much he needed to ask for to be able to exchange themAMP, , Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Libros minutarios, 1913, AL12-13-000-102.

E. T. Notts, Guanaceví

E. F.(sic) Knotts was the signatory on a series of vales, (5c, 10c, 25c, $1 (type 1), $1 (type 2), and $5) issued by the Hacienda de Anita, Guanaceví, dated October and November 1913Mexican Paper Money, 2010, where they are listed under Hacienda de Chula, surely a misreading and also the signatory as proprietor on a $5 vale issued by the Hacienda de Anita, Guanaceví in February 1914Mexican Paper Money, 2010.

San Pedro Guanaceví

The Tesoreria Municipal in Parral distinguished Concurso vales from Guanaceví vales as on 9 March 1914 it reported that it had $354.00 of the former and $93.75 of the latterAMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Correspondencia, caja 69, exp 1. The latter might have been vales issued by the Jefatura Municipal of Guanaceví. We know of two different types of $1 notes (type 1, type 2), issued in December 1913.

On 7 January the Presidente Municipal of San Isidro de las Cuevas reported that to date people had presented $2,200 in Guanacevi vales and he expected the figure to rise to $2,500AMP, Gobierno, Jefatura Política y Presidencia Municipal, Correspondencia, caja 69, exp 1.