Leonor Villegas de Magnón, daughter of Joaquín and Helosia Villegas, was born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico on June 12, 1876. Educated at the Ursuline Convent in San Antonio and later the Academy of the Holy Cross in Austin, she received a teaching degree in 1895 from the Academy of Mount Saint Ursula in New York City. She married Adolfo Magnón, an American citizen, and the couple had three children, Leonor, Joaquín, and Adolfo. Leonor’s father left Mexico at the outbreak of the Mexican revolution, and when he died in 1910 the war prevented Leonor from returning to Mexico after his funeral. She stayed in Laredo, Texas where she opened a Kindergarten in her home.
Sympathetic to Francisco Madero and his opposition to the Díaz administration, Magnón, along with her friend Jovita Idar, wrote for La Crónica, a Laredo Spanish language newspaper published by Nicasio Idar. When war broke out again in Mexico in 1913 and Nuevo Laredo was attacked, Idar and Magnón crossed the Rio Grande to help nurse the wounded. Leonor then formed and financed La Cruz Blanca (the White Cross) to provide more organized medical assistance and medical supplies to wounded soldiers. Eventually she transformed her home, garage and school into a hospital for soldiers who crossed the border. Unfortunately, American army officials accused her of violating neutrality laws and took many of the soldiers into custody at Fort McIntosh. Leonor hired a lawyer in order to secure their release and after a time Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan ordered the state to comply. Later on, Leonor and twenty five other nurses joined Venustiano Carranza’s army and continued their work with La Cruz Blanca. She was awarded five medals for her work during the Revolution, and in the post war years continued her social and political activism. She opened a bilingual school for children in Laredo and founded a community action women’s organization, La unión de progreso, y caridad. She also worked for the State Democratic executive committee, Women’s Division of Texas in the 1930s. In the 1940s she returned to Mexico, where she was part of the Club internacional de mujeres, working for official recognition for the nurse veterans of the revolution. Eventually Leonor Villegas de Magnón returned to Laredo, where she died on April 17, 1955.