Monday, May 9, 2011

Military Monday: Mexican Expedition, 1916 - 1917

Rosina Hoffman Eiler's family was located two years ago with details added over time. Rosina, the wife of John Eiler, was the daughter of immigrant Margaret. I have just been entering some 1930 census data for Rosina's children and found something new to me. In the columns for Veterans I have seen more than "WW" which stands for World War and which we now call World War I, but the notation of "Mex" was new. It is on a page in Red Oak, Montgomery County, Iowa, where much of the family still lived in 1930. It was on the line for Henry L. Hixenbaugh, husband of Rosina's daughter Lizzie. That seemed to indicate the Mexican episode in which U.S. troops chased after Pancho Villa. The 1930 Census Enumerator Instructions provide the details.

"Mex" is the abbreviation to be used for the Mexican expedition. Further the instructions state: "Persons are not veterans of an expedition, however, unless they actually took part in the expedition. For example, veterans of the Mexican expedition must have been in Mexico or Mexican waters at the time of the expedition..."

Henry L. Hixenbaugh was not the only person on the page with that notation which might imply that a local unit was sent to the border. A website of the Iowa National Guard has more information and a link to a digital copy of an old publication that contains photos and names of the men in each unit of the guard involved in the Mexican Border Service 1916-1917. The Iowa guard was called up in late June 1916, trained about a month at Fort Dodge in Des Moines, then were transported by train to Brownsville, Texas. Guard units were entrusted with securing the Mexican border while regular troops pursued Villa. In December 1916 and January 1917 the Iowa Battalion consisting of three regiments of infantry and other troops returned home.

Henry served as a cook in Company M, 3rd Infantry, a unit from Red Oak as might be expected. He must have had many interesting stories to tell of his time on the border. Council Bluffs newspaper accounts at show a Henry Hixenbaugh of Red Oak as interested in fostering a baseball program and politics serving as a councilman during the 1940s and 50s. Probably he was Lizzie's husband.
Iowa Troops in Mexican Border Service, 1916-1917, photographed, compiled and published by Dick Dreyer, Iowa City, Iowa


  1. What a great neat to have a photo of the unit!

  2. That's my dad's brother Howard Henry Pike in the unit! I have photos of him in his uniform and in camp during the campaign