J. T. Latham was interviewed in 1937 as a contributor to the American Legends Collection‚ a part of the Federal Writers Project. Speaking into an Edison Dictaphone‚ he narrated the events of a dangerous trek he guided into the badlands of Sonora‚ Mexico‚ in exchange for a pardon from the term he was serving in Yuma Territorial Penitentiary. Acting Deputy Sheriff Del Buchman‚ the man who had originally captured Latham‚ was the one who made the offer.
According to Latham‚ Buchman described the situation: “Six days ago a train on its way to Hermosillo was stopped by bandits. Seven Americans were taken off. Four of ’em were shot on the spot‚ but a woman and her two kids were taken away. Now‚ here’s the kicker. On the very same day them three were pulled off that train‚ her husband gets a proposal from a bandit chief named Chito Soto that ain’t nothing but a ransom demand wrapped in fancy words. This Soto claims he’s a major in something called an Army of Liberation. He wants the ransom delivered to Sabana by May Sixteenth‚ which is eight days from today. They’re threatening to start carving on them kids on the Seventeenth if they don’t get the … their ransom on time.”
The ransom Buchman chose not to mention was three machine-guns and a dozen cases of .30-40 Krag ammunition. But this was how the legend of Latham’s trek began.
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