Mormon Exodus to El Paso

Leaving Mexico for El Paso
Leaving Mexico for El Paso.   

As the Mormon people came under increased pressure in the 1880s from the U.S. Government over the issue of Plural marriage, hundreds of Church members began moving south in 1885 to the northern provinces of Mexico.  Within a few years nine major Mormon colonies were established in the two northern most Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora.  While polygamy was the chief motivation, the move to Mexico and also north into Canada also fit within the over all Church plans of expanded settlements throughout the western part of America.

By 1912 at the outbreak of the Mexican revolution, there were close to 4,500 Saints prospering in Mexico building their homes, farms, and ranches.  The Mormons remained neutral during the civil war, but as the revolutionist need for guns and ammunition increased, they in turn demand the firearms of the Mormon colonists.  With tensions mounting, the settlers felt their only option for the safety of their families was to leave the country.

Union Depot in El Paso
Union Depot in El Paso.   

The refugees traveled overland to the nearest rail depots and then by rail to the Union Depot in El Paso.  The first group arrived late in the evening of July 29, 1912.

Through the kind and gracious response of the citizens of El Paso temporary housing was set up in a local lumberyard and a tent city was soon organized.  As the Saints situation began to stabilize, an expression of gratitude was sent to the local newspaper.  In part it read: “In our own behalf and in behalf of the many refugees from the colonies of Chihuahua, who are now in El Paso, permit us to express, through the column of your paper, our appreciation, and the deep gratitude we feel, for the spontaneous and universal expression of sympathy, and the ready assistance, which has been rendered in this hour of trial and distress.”

Tent City in El Paso
Tent City in El Paso. 

After the revolution, many of the colonists moved back to their homes in Mexico, but most moved on to other locations in the United States.  About 10% remained as citizens in El Paso.

El Paso Ribbon Cutting
El Paso Ribbon Cutting 2012 Exhibit at the El  Paso Museum of History.

On July 28, 2012 in remembrance of this event and to again recognize and express appreciation to the citizens of El Paso, a special program with a symposium, exhibit, and banquet was held in El Paso co-sponsored by the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation.

The exhibit display is now housed in the Museum of Mormon History in Mexico, 1501 North Canyon Rd, Provo, Utah.




Articles & Resources

About the Mormon Exodus from Mexico in 1912

The site is hosted by UTEP’s Center for History Teaching and Learning
Read article

Finding Refuge in El Paso: The 1912 Mormon Exodus from Mexico

Meridian Magazine
October 15, 2012
By Fred E. Woods
Read article

Finding refuge in El Paso

Church News
Published: Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012
By R. Scott Lloyd
Read article

Documentary tells story of 1912 Mormon exodus from Mexico

Fox 13 NewsPosted on: 3:56 pm, July 29, 2012, by Brittany Green-Miner and Kelly Chapman, updated on: 10:04pm, July 29, 2012
Read article

100th anniversary of arrival of Mormon refugees in El Paso celebrated Saturday

El Paso Times
July 28, 2012
By Ramon Renteria
Read article

Mexican Mormon history preserved in new museum

Mexican Mormon history preserved in new museum

By Gladys Chavez
Deseret News
Published: Saturday, July 2, 2011
Read article

Provo museum showcases Mormon history in Mexico

Provo museum showcases Mormon history in Mexico

Read article