Known as “El Rancho de la Concordia” during the 1840s, this area is only a few miles from the Mexican border and was the 900-acre property of Chihuahua trader Hugh Stephenson. The Archbishop of Durango later gave permission for the blessing of a private chapel on the land known as San José de la Concordia, the ruins of which remained until the 1930s. In 1856, with the death of Stephenson’s wife, Juana (Ascarate), the chapel’s burial grounds became the origins of Concordia Cemetery.
The graveyard gained widespread use in the 1880s when El Pasoans drove three miles to Concordia to bury their dead. By 1890 various sections had been purchased by different groups and were designated Catholic, Masonic, Jewish, Black, Military, Jesuit, city, and county.
The Concordia Cemetery is also home to a large Chinese population, many of whom were born in the 1800s. They’re the men who built the intercontinental railroad. Their families are here as well.
When the Chinese Exclusion Act made it difficult for more immigrants to come to thiscountry in the 1870s, many Chinese and Japanese men ended up marrying Mexican women. There are plenty of gravestones here with names like Manuel Cheng, who was born in the late 1800s. A popular restaurant in the area, run by descendants of another such family, has the name Paco Wong’s.
The Concordia Cemetery is also known as El Paso’s Boot Hill and contains the remains of some notorious gunslingers. John Wesley (Wes) Hardin (“I never killed anyone who didn’tneed killing”) was shot down while standing at the bar of the local Acme Saloon in 1895. It’s claimed that his murderer, Constable “Uncle” John Selman, killed between 12 and 30 men during his lifetime. He, too, was murdered a year later, and is buried in Concordia Cemetery. The eponymous Bass (Baz) L. Outlaw was a former Texas Ranger, whose drinking problem involved him in a number of shootouts. He was ultimately put asunder in a gunfight after he fired a shot into Tillie Howard’s brothel. The last of these outlaws, one Shotgun John Collins was an associate of Harding and Selman who lived on to the age of 71 before he died in a gunfight in 1922. Collins had a number of aliases and is buried in Concordia Cemetery in an unmarked grave.
Buried here are over 60,000 people including Buffalo Soldiers, Texas Rangers, Civil War Veterans, early Mormon pioneers, local legends and numerous other civic leaders, pioneers, and war veterans.
The cemetery has what seem to be vast, empty spaces. Yet they are not. It’s not known how many people were buried under the cheap wood or sandstone markers that dissolved after years of dust storms and droughts. In a section set aside for children, one grave is marked with a distinctive iron crib. But most of the markers are humble and look homemade.
Some claim that Concordia Cemetery is haunted. In fact, there are monthly ghost tours where guests can visit the haunted sites where people have reported seeing a Lady in White and other ghostly apparitions. Some have reported hearing the voices of children giggling & playing in the Children’s Section, or Buffalo Soldiers on their horses thundering among the gravestones.
Concordia Cemetery a Texas State Historical Site and the Winner of the 2010 True West Magazine “Best of the West.” The cemetery is also the recipient of the 2008 “Preservation Texas” “Clara Driscoll Award” for Preservation.
Here is a slideshow presentation of Concordia Cemetery in El Paso, Texas: