Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Harry Hargreaves Letters, 1916

Finding aid created by
Mary Parsons, December 2007

Summary Information
Title: Harry Hargreaves letters
Creator: Dean, Mary Hargreaves
Inclusive dates: 1916
Extent: 8 items
The Hargreaves letters consists of eight letters written by Harry Hargreaves from Nogales, Arizona while Hargreaves served as part of the border patrol during the 1916 Mexican Expedition.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1995. M-3148.7.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Harry Hargreaves Letters, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically.


Harry A. Hargreaves served as a 42-year-old Regimental Sergeant-Major in the 1st Connecticut Infantry when they were sent to Nogales, Arizona, three and a half months after Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus, New Mexico, in 1916. After six weeks at Camp Steven Little in Nogales, the regiment marched to Fort Huachuca for ten days, and then marched back to Nogales. They saw no active duty during that time.

Harry was born Aug. 24, 1877, in Philadelphia, Pa. His father died several years later, and his mother Mary remarried c. 1890. She had two children by her second husband, Norman R. Dean, who were Emily P. Dean (b. 1892) and Georgiana F. Dean (b. 1894). Harry was married ca. 1906. His wife Harriette H., seven years his junior, started an interior decorating company shortly after their marriage when the couple settled in New Britain, CT. They had no children. Harry, who was a dry goods salesman before his marriage, became a bookkeeper, and then by 1913 was serving as deputy city clerk of New Britain, an office he continued to hold into the 1920's. With his wife's income from her interior decorating business, they were well enough off in 1920 to employ a live-in chauffeur. Harry continued to be involved with the military after returning from his 1916 service with Pershing's Punitive Expedition, moving from Regimental Sergeant Major in the First Connecticut Infantry, to Captain in the 169th Infantry of the Connecticut National Guard in the 1920's and 1930's. His 1942 World War II draft registration card listed his residence as Cape May, NJ. He was described as 64 years old, 5'9" tall, weighing 172 lbs., with brown eyes, and gray hair. He died on March 12, 1958, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of eight letters written by Harry A. Hargreaves between June and August 1916 while serving with Pershing's Punitive Expedition (also called the Mexican Expedition and the Pancho Villa Expedition). The letters are to his mother and stepfather in Germantown, PA. Seven of the letters are to his mother Mary Dean. One letter is to his step-father Norman R. Dean. There is a single empty envelope addressed to his half-sister Georgiana Dean at the same address in Germantown, PA. Two newspaper clippings from Hartford, CT, area newspapers are enclosed in letters to his mother. They were probably sent to Harry by his wife, and then sent by Harry to his mother.

The letters give a well-written descriptive view of a middle aged man seeing the Southwest for the first time, as his Connecticut Infantry Company is sent to reinforce the Border area during Pershing's Punitive Expedition to Mexico in 1916. He tries to share this new part of the country and his experiences there with his family. He writes of vaccinations in some detail, saying that the men were being revaccinated every seven days until it takes. "There is some terrible looking arms . . . The new way of vaccinating is two small slits in the upper arm and touch with the vaccine paint" [July 8]. He gives good descriptions of Fort Huachua [Aug. 25] and Camp Steven Little, Arizona [July 4], including the boundary posts and neutral zone 50 feet on either side [July 17]. He tells of fellow soldiers sending home specimens of the exotic fauna (tarantulas, centipedes, and rattlesnakes), and how Company D became known as "the hard luck company" after they were flooded out, suffered wind damage to their tents, developed "shirt monkeys" [lice], and had a gun go off accidentally during practice, causing a man to lose a finger [Aug. 1]. He comments on the prejudice of Texans against Mexican laborers [July 2]. Mention is made of the hanging of four of Pancho Villa's raiders in Deming, New Mexico, several weeks earlier [July 4].

Subject Terms

    • Fort Huachuca (Ariz.)
    • Mexican-American Border Region--Description and travel.
    • Nogales, (Ariz.)
    • United States. Army--Connecticut Infantry Regiment, 1st (Militia)
    • United States. Army--History--Punitive Expedition into Mexico, 1916.
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • Vaccination.
    • Villa, Pancho, 1878-1923.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   7, Small Collections  
    Harry Hargreaves letters [series]
     June 29, 1916; Chicago, IL
    Describes train trip- "Splendid receptions along the line notably at Friendship, NY and Salamanca, NY." "We are getting inoculated for typhoid and vaccinated at the same time."
     July 2, 1916; San Macial, NM
    Train has been stopping twice a day, and the men are marched for exercise. Prejudice of Texans against the Mexican laborers on Santa Fe Rail Road.
     July 4, 1916; Nogales, AZ
    Description of camp -"running water piped though the camp with a faucet at the head of each Camp and street." A solitary Mexican sentry across the way -"His equipment consists o a Mauser rifle, belt and white baggy uniform and sandals." Mentions the hanging of four of Villa's raiders in Deming, NM two weeks ago.
     July 8, 1916; Nogales, AZ
    Several battalions quarantined - one before they arrived because of measles, another in the hills south of camp because they were exposed to smallpox. Nose bleeds common. Revaccinating every seven days until it takes "There are some terrible looking arms … The new way of vaccinating is two small slits in the upper arm and a touch with the vaccine paint." Explanations to his family of how to pronounce "Villa," "Nogales," "Santa Fe," "Tucson," etc.
     July 17, 1916; Nogales, AZ
    Rains force removal of camp to higher ground. Good description of "boundary posts" and "neutral zone" 50 feet on either side. Soldier sending home exotic fauna, rattlesnakes, tarantulas, and centipedes.
     August 1, 1916; Nogales, AZ
    Detailed description of evening meal and breakfast at camp "We had cantaloupe with ice cream on two occasions." Company D is a hard luck company, flooded out, wind damage to tents, kitchen damage, men have "shirt monkeys" [lice], and a gun accidentally went off during practice causing a man to loose a finger.
     August 16, 1916; Nogales, AZ
    Leaving for march to Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
     August 25, 1916; Fort Huachuca, AZ
    A six day march (68 miles) to Fort Hauchuca, ten days there, a march back. Description of hotel meal in Elgin as compared to camp food. Good description of both Patagonia and Fort Huachuca and the surrounding area. "This is where 10th (colored) Cavalry was stationed when called to Mexico."