Day Trips: Concordia Cemetery, El Paso
Old El Paso was dying to get into historic cemetery
Concordia Cemetery in El Paso contains much of the early history of Texas' westernmost city within its 54 acres of desert sand and tangled vines. Once on the outskirts of town, the cemetery is now surrounded by neighborhoods.
The first person buried at the site was Juana Ascarate Stephenson, who was laid to rest on Feb. 6, 1856, overlooking the Rio Grande three miles away.
Within a few years, the vacant land around Juana's simple grave, with Mount Franklin looming on the horizon to the west, became Boot Hill for one of the West's wildest towns. Sections were cordoned off for different groups that included the early settlers of the area.
Included among the 65,000 final residents were a former Mexican president, Texas Rangers, Buffalo Soldiers, outlaws, and ordinary citizens.
The most famous person to take up residency in Concordia Cemetery was the outlaw John Wesley Hardin. After serving 15 years in a Huntsville prison for killing a Texas sheriff, Hardin moved to El Paso to practice law.
Credited with killing 42 men, Hardin was shot in the back of the head at the Acme Saloon by Constable John Selman on Aug. 19, 1895. Ironically, Selman was soon killed by another gunman and buried not far from Hardin's grave.
Concordia Cemetery is at 3700 Yandell St. in El Paso. The cemetery's hours vary by season: 8am-5pm in winter and 7am-8pm in summer. Visit www.concordiacemetery.org to find a list of public events held at the cemetery during the year.
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