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Concordia Cemetery - El Paso, Texas

In May of 2011, I was on a business trip to El Paso when an acquaintance asked if I had seen this cemetery on my way into town. I had not seen it, and he proceeded to tell me how John Wesley Hardin was interred there and how the entire Cemetery looked run-down and forgotten - like the desert was trying, successfully, to reclaim the land - except for the Jewish section, which was lush and green and beautifully maintained. I simply had to see this for myself. After finishing up for the day, I took some time off to rest, waiting for the sun to be low in the sky to achieve the effect I knew I wanted - and headed out in search of this jewel of the Southwest. My first impression was of the sheer scale of the site. It is immense - and segregated by denominations / cultural boundaries. Something I had never seen before. I immediately located the map for Concordia and made a beeline for John Wesley Hardin's resting place. From there, I explored the grounds at random, taking advantage of the light as long as possible. I was looking for the Jewish Section I had been told about and simply had no idea where it was until I realized the trees and bushes peeking up behind an enormous wall far in the distance had to be my destination. I made my way across the Cemetery and finally came to the wall. Most of this massive boundary is well above my head, so I made my way toward the entrance, where the wall is lower, and was astounded at the stark contrast between this section any other section of this historic site. The Jewish Section looks like the Garden of Eden dropped into the heart of a desert.
 
Established 1840 at Concordia Ranch by trader Hugh Stephenson on the Ascarate Land Grand and his wife, Juana Ascarate Stephenson. The Church of San Juan de Concordia el Alto was built in 1850. and is recognized as the first church in El Paso. Mrs. Stephenson was the first burial in the Cemetery (1857) and an inscription is located in the French Section.
Map of Concordia Cemetery
 
Concordia Cemetery's fifty-tow acres are final resting places for over 60,000 residents of El Paso. The Cemetery is considered a premier Outdoor Museum of Monuments due to the wide variety of headstones and markers. The Cemetery was designated a Texas State Historical Cemetery in 2006, the first in El Paso County.

Some of the fascniating residents of Concordia Cemetery:

  • John Wesley Hardin
  • Buffalo Soldiers
  • Mexican Revolutionary Figures
  • Chinese Section
  • Jewish Section
  • Catholic Section
  • Mormon Section
  • Masonic Section
  • Masonic Veterans Monument
  • Jesuit Priests Section
  • Grand Army Republic Veterans
  • Oddfellows Section
  • Infant Nursery (victims of the Influenza epidemic (1917-18)
John Wesley Hardin's Grave
John Wesley Hardin (May 26, 1853 - August 19, 1895) Born in Bonham, Texas, John Wesley Hardin was named for the founder of Methodism. "Wes" Hardin grew into a family man, cowboy and outlaw who claimed to have killed more than 30 men. An unusual sort of gunslinger, Hardin considered himself a pillar of society who killed to save his own life. Hardin served 15 years in state prison for murder, was pardoned, then opened a law office in El Paso in May 1895. He was killed 3 months later by John Selman, and El Paso city Constable.
 
 
Masonic Plaque
The good and the bad
A breakdown of the occupants of Concordia Complete with the annnotation that the last murder took place where the sign stands, using the rocks below as the weapon
Iron cross leaning against a stone
Gerardo Lujan white iron cross
Baby cradle monument - Cynthia Jimenez
Bare, wooden crosses
 
 
Stuffed animals adorn this grave
Faux flowers on a white cross
Vivid red crosses
Broken monument
Twised wire cross
 
Faux flowers and a wooden cross
 
The Jewish section is gorgeous
 
Morrison monument
Caples monument
Yucca spike reaches to the heavens
Wood and iron crosses
Wulfrano Ugales monument + green fence
 
Wrought iron fence and blue flower cross
White iron fenced grave
Wooden crosses in the sunset
Grackle on a tombstone
Grackle
 
Ring of stones
 
Antonio Cana Chacon wooden cross
Iron pipe cross
Cactus in the sunset
Clarette M. Kendall circle of stones
Pile of Stone
Damaged monument
 
Wooden cross and Yucca plant
Twisted metal cross
Pointing finger monument with stones
Wrought Iron fenced grave
Pink cross with rebar T V initials
Wrought Iron fenced grave
Painted pink monument
Another striking feature of Concordia is the use of vibrant blues and pinks on headstones and monuments. It appears to be painted onto a conventional tombstone for effect and can be found in abundance here.
Painted blue monument
Painted blue cross on monument
Painted blue monument
Faded wooden pink cross
Pink tombstone
Ornate iron cross
Jewish section
Massive "window" monument
Ornate blue iron cross
Caples family mausoleum
Lorenzo Mendoza white iron cross
Ornate wrought iron housing
All images © Copyright Warren Paul Harris
All Rights Reserved