Neville Ranch Raid

By: Julia Cauble Smith

Type: General Entry

Published: August 1, 1995

The raid at the Neville ranch in northwest Presidio County on March 25, 1918, was the last serious attack on a Texas ranch by Mexican raiders. Edwin W. Neville's ranch stretched for eighteen miles along the Rio Grande, six miles upriver from Porvenir. The ranch was isolated, having no telephone or close neighbors. The American military stationed in Van Horn had received rumors of an impending raid from across the Rio Grande. Neville was in Van Horn for supplies and heard the report. He rode eight hours to reach his ranch and found it quiet. He concluded that no danger was imminent. Neville had moved his wife and two daughters to Van Horn after the Brite Ranch raid, but his son, Glen, had remained at the ranch. The two were discussing the rumors of an attack, when they heard a disturbance outside. Neville looked out and saw fifty approaching horsemen who began opening fire on the house. Seeking protection, the Nevilles ran toward a ditch about 300 yards away. The older Neville reached the ditch uninjured. The raiders fatally shot Glen in the head as he fled the house; as he lay dying he was beaten with rifle butts. The Nevilles' housekeeper, Rosa Castillo, was also shot and her body mutilated. As Neville wandered in the darkness, the raiders stole horses, clothes, bedding, and supplies. Thirty-one men from Troop G arrived shortly after the attack but waited for reinforcements before pursuing the raiders. Col. George T. Langhorne dispatched Troop A from Marfa to the Neville ranch. They came to Valentine by train and rode horseback to meet Troop G at the river. Following the trail of the bandits, both troops crossed the Rio Grande. In a gunfight at the village of Pilares thirty-three Mexicans were killed and eight were wounded. One American, private Carl Alberts, was also killed. The American soldiers destroyed all but one house in Pilares and recovered some of Neville's stolen property. It is likely that the Neville ranch raid was not a simple act of robbery. Neville did not have much to steal. In addition, many of the raiders had lived in or had had relatives who lived in Porvenir. The attack on the Neville ranch may have been retaliation for the Porvenir Massacre, which had taken place two months prior. It is also likely that the raiders had Villista connections. In addition, soldiers found German-made Mauser rifles at Pilares, a fact that may suggest German involvement in the raid. After the raid, Ed Neville sold his ranch and opened the Long Horn Cafe in Marfa. He could not forget the death of his son, however, and carried out a vendetta against Mexicans he suspected of involvement in the raid until his death in 1952.

Glenn Justice, Revolution on the Rio Grande (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1992). James Sandos, Rebellion in the Borderlands: Anarchism and the Plan of San Diego, 1904–1923 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992). Ronnie C. Tyler, The Big Bend (Washington: National Park Service, 1975).
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Rebellions, Raids, and Wars
Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Julia Cauble Smith, “Neville Ranch Raid,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 04, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995