52 acres, a city of sixty five thousand people — all dead. Welcome to Concordia Cemetery in Central El Paso.
The history of Concordia dates back to the 1800’s, when the owner, Hugh Stephenson buried his wife Juana María Ascarate after she died prematurely in 1856. Shortly after, descendants of the Stephensons began selling off parcels of land at Concordia. Among those who purchased land was the city of El Paso, the county of El Paso, the Masons, Odd Fellows, Catholic Church, the Chinese Community and the Jewish community. Six acres were also set aside for public burials, creating eight distinct cemeteries.
Concordia isn’t the first cemetery in El Paso. Long before, residents were allowed to bury their dead loved ones pretty much anywhere.. back yards, hillsides, empty lots in the desert. Downtown El Paso was a hot spot for the dead. Sunset Heights, the downtown ballpark and public library were once home to several small cemeteries. At one point, there were more people buried there who died from violence than any other causes. It is said this portion of downtown is “littered” with bodies that were never removed. It even earned the nickname Boot Hill, which is a common name for the burial grounds of gunfighters or those who died with their boots on. Some bodies were eventually exhumed and relocated to Concordia to make way for future development.
Paranormal Activity at Concordia
Thousands have witnessed the paranormal activity that confines itself within the rocky walls of the cemetery. During the day, the place is quiet with only the hum of cars speeding down I-10 right next door. At night, the dead city comes to life. One popular story is the sound of horses beating their hooves against the desert soil. Some say it’s the spirit of John Wesley Hardin causing havoc among the thousands of graves. Hardin was a infamous outlaw and gunfighter who died in 1895 and was buried at Concordia.
In the children’s section of the cemetery rest many young bodies that lost their life due to the smallpox epidemic. Some women experience someone pull on their back pockets. Ghost hunters say this is the small children that feel particularly comfortable to the women. Another common experience is a weird feeling women get where they once had a C-section. In the middle of the children’s section sits an old white metal crib, the grave of an infant.
Cemetery workers have stumbled upon horrifying sights before, such as the head of a cow and dead cats and dogs. According to the workers, it is the remains of satanic worshipers that sneak into the cemetery at night to perform rituals. Some say this has awaken the spirits of some dead.
Across the street from the cemetery is a neighborhood. Many residents say the spirits of those buried at Concordia have moved in. “If you don’t upset them, they will leave you alone,” said a resident. “One day, my husband and I were arguing, when we heard a loud moan come from the back room. It startled us. Our dog even ran across the house and tried to claw his way out the front door. Ever since then, when we argue this horrifying moan reminds us that we’re not alone and it clearly does not like bad vibes in the house.”
It is said that you can park on East Yandell Dr at night and see the apparition of several ghosts trying to find their way home.
Concordia Cemetery is located at 3700 E Yandell Dr in Central El Paso. It is open to the public Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.