A sampling of Eternal Residents of Concordia Cemetery
Please do check back as as we dig up more history!
Lady Flo (c 1867-1913)
Socialite and Cattle Rancher
Florida J. Wolfe, also known as “Lady Flo,” was one of the most remarkable, resilient, albeit mysterious Black women to live in El Paso, Texas. Consort and common law wife to Irish Lord Delaval James Beresford, who owned cotton plantations and cattle ranches in Canada, the southwestern United States and Mexico, Lady Flo was a proud African American woman who flaunted tradition, but in her good-hearted, generous manner earned the inexorable respect of citizens on both sides of borders of the bi-national cities of El Paso, Texas and Cuidad Juarez, Mexico.
Born in Illinois, possibly the town of Salem, to Nancy and David Wolfe, Florida’s early background is shrouded in mystery owing to her parents’ divorce and lack of information on her early schooling. There are many unverifiable stories of Florida’s arrival in El Paso—ranging from having been brought to the city by Lt. Henry Flipper, West Point’s first African American graduate, to having met Lord Beresford in either New Orleans, U.S.A. or Chihuahua, Mexico, nursing him back to health, and soon becoming his housekeeper/companion. Fluent in Spanish, Lady Flo was often described as “looking Mexican.”
Lady Flo’s relationship with Lord Beresford made it easier for them to live in Mexico as Texas law in l893 prevented interracial marriage or cohabitation. The couple frequently traveled between Cuidad Juarez and El Paso in a multi-person entourage. Lady Flo gave grand parties and made contributions to the El Paso Fire Department and Police Department. With Lord Beresford’s death in a train wreck in Minnesota in December l906, Lady Flo claimed his property as his common law wife. Using her knowledge of ranching and farming, she expanded the ranch's production after his death.
Lord Beresford’s family in Ireland contested Lady Flo’s claim and after a protracted court battle she received only $15,000 and a “few hundred head of cattle.” Nonetheless Lady Flo spent the remaining years of her life in El Paso, Texas, attending regularly the Second Baptist Church and giving away what was left of her fortune to the poor and downtrodden.
Florida J. Wolfe developed tuberculosis and died in El Paso in May 1913. The prominent Black physician, Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon tended to Lady Flo and ultimately signed her death certificate. She was buried in El Paso’s Concordia Cemetery's Black Section.
Sources: Eugene O. Porter, Lord Beresford and Lady Flo (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1970).
Contributor(s): Dailey, Jr., Maceo Crenshaw University of Texas, El Paso
Mexican President Victoriano Huerta (1854-1916)
Mexican general and political leader who, in 1913, overthrew the first government to emerge from the Mexican Revolution and became the executive of a counterrevolutionary regime.
Victoriano Huerta was born of Huichol Indian parents in Colotlán, Jalisco, on Dec. 23, 1854. He received military training at the Chapultepec Military College. During the rule of Porfirio Díaz, Huerta's abilities brought him recognition and advancement to the rank of general. In 1901 he was in command of the military campaign which crushed the resistance of the Maya Indians. When Díaz's regime collapsed in 1911 and the aging dictator was forced into exile, Gen. Huerta commanded the escort which accompanied Díaz safely to Veracruz.
At the very time that Francisco Madero was endeavoring to arrange for the peaceful discharge of the revolutionary forces in Morelos, interim president Francisco de la Barra ordered Gen. Huerta to crush the peasant followers of Emiliano Zapata. When Madero, who wanted a peaceful solution, assumed the presidency, Huerta was sent into temporary retirement. Nonetheless, the impatient agrarians of Morelos rebelled against the new administration less than 3 weeks after it took office. When Pascual Orozco pronounced against Madero in February 1912 in northern Mexico with conservative backing, Huerta was recalled to active duty and, after careful preparations, crushed the rebellion. Returning to the capital, he was rankled by Madero's treatment of him.
The revolt led by Bernardo Reyes and Félix Díaz in February 1913 made it necessary for Madero once more to place his fate in the hands of Huerta. After the carnage in Mexico City known as the "Ten Tragic Days," Huerta made a deal with Félix Díaz to betray the Madero government. Madero and his vice president, Pino Suárez, were seized and, influenced by promises that they and their associates would be protected, resigned their posts. Huerta assumed the provisional presidency and, on the night of Feb. 22, 1913, while being transferred from the National Palace to prison, Madero and Pino Suárez were assassinated by their escort.
Although there is no evidence of Huerta's direct responsibility in the tragic events, he and his administration could not escape blame for the bloody trail which led to his secretary of war. Madero's martyrdom unified the divided revolutionaries, and United States president Woodrow Wilson refused to recognize a regime which had come to power through murder. Having outmaneuvered Félix Díaz, Huerta became president in a farcical October election and tended to conduct national business behind a bottle of cognac in the Café Colón.
The regime of the heavy-drinking Huerta became more oppressive the more desperate the leader became. Opposition was suppressed, and critics like Senator Belisario Domínguez met violent death. With the dissolution of Congress, all pretense of representative government ended. Venustiano Carranza became the first chief of the Constitutionalist movement to avenge Madero and reestablish constitutional government. These forces, led by Carranza, Pancho Villa, and Álvaro Obregón in the north and Zapata's guerrilla army in the south, were aided by the lifting of the United States arms embargo.
The brief arrest of some American sailors at Tampico (April 1914) became an "affair of honor" for President Wilson, who, to prevent a German arms shipment from reaching Huerta, ordered the occupation of Veracruz. This almost permitted Huerta to rally the nation behind him. Military victories by revolutionary forces - Villa at Torreón and at Zacatecas and Obregón on the west coast - splintered Huerta's army, and on July 15, 1914, Huerta escaped to Veracruz.
After living for a time in Forest Hills, N.Y., Huerta traveled to the southwest border to join other
anti-regime plotters. Arrested for conspiracy, he died at El Paso, Tex., on Jan. 13, 1916, shortly after being released for health reasons from Fort Bliss.
He was originally laid to rest in the crypt in the masonic section of Concordia Cemetery, years later his family moved his body from Concordia and across the Interstate 10 to Evergreen Cemetery.
(His Body was moved to El Paso's Evergreen Cemetery in the mid 20th century)
GENERAL OROZCO, PASCUAL, JR. (1882-1915)
Was a Mexican muleteer, warlord and revolutionary who participated in the early parts of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). More of an opportunist than an idealist, Orozco and his army fought in many key battles between 1910 and 1914 before he “backed the wrong horse:” General Victoriano Huerta, whose brief presidency lasted from 1913 to 1914. Exiled, Orozco was captured and executed by Texas Rangers.
Before the Mexican Revolution broke out, Pascual Orozco was a small-time entrepreneur, storekeeper and muleteer. He came from a lower-middle class family in the northern state of Chihuahua and by working hard and saving he had been able to acquire a respectable amount of wealth. As a self-starter who had made his own fortune, he became disenchanted with the corrupt regime of Porfirio Díaz, who tended to favor old money and those with connections, neither of which Orozco had. Orozco became involved with the Flores Magón brothers, Mexican dissidents trying to stir up rebellion from safety in the United States.
Orozco and Madero:
In 1910, opposition Presidential candidate Francisco I. Madero, who had lost due to flagrant fraud, called for revolution against the crooked Díaz. Orozco organized a small force in the Guerrero area of Chihuahua and quickly won a series of skirmishes against federal forces. With every victory his force grew, swelled by local peasants who were drawn by patriotism, greed, or both. By the time Madero returned to Mexico from exile in the United States, Orozco commanded a force of several thousand men. Madero promoted him first to colonel and then general, even though Orozco had no military background whatsoever.
While Emiliano Zapata's army kept Díaz' federal forces busy in the south, Orozco and his armies took over the north. The uneasy alliance of Orozco, Madero and Pancho Villa captured several key towns in Northern Mexico, including Ciudad Juarez, which Madero made his provisional capital. Orozco maintained his businesses during his time as general: one time, his first action upon capturing a town was to sack the home of a business rival. Orozco was a cruel and ruthless commander. On one occasion, he sent the uniforms of dead federal soldiers back to Díaz with a note: “Here are the wrappers: send more tamales.”
Revolt Against Madero:
The armies of the north drove Díaz from Mexico in May of 1911 and Madero took over. Madero saw Orozco as a violent bumpkin, useful to the war effort but out of his depth in government. Orozco, who was unlike Villa in that he was fighting not for idealism but under the assumption that he would be made at least a state governor, was outraged. Orozco had accepted the post of General, but resigned it when he refused to fight Zapata, who had rebelled against Madero for not implementing land reform. In March of 1912 Orozco and his men, called Orozquistas or Colorados, once again took to the field.
Orozco in 1912-1913:
Fighting Zapata to the south and Orozco to the north, Madero turned to two generals: Victoriano Huerta, a relic left over from the days of Díaz, and Pancho Villa, who still supported him. Huerta and Villa were able to rout Orozco in several key battles. Orozco's poor control of his men contributed to his losses: he allowed them to sack and loot captured towns, which turned the locals against him. Orozco fled to the United States, but returned when Huerta overthrew and assassinated Madero in February of 1913. President Huerta, in need of allies, offered him a generalship and Orozco accepted.
Downfall of Huerta:
Orozco was once again fighting Pancho Villa, who was outraged by Huerta's murder of Madero. Two more generals appeared on the scene: Alvaro Obregón and Venustiano Carranza, both at the head of huge armies in Sonora. Villa, Zapata, Obregón and Carranza were united by their hatred of Huerta, and their combined might was far too much for the new president, even with Orozco and his colorados on his side. When Villa crushed the federals at the battle of Zacatecas in June of 1914, Huerta fled the country. Orozco fought on for a while but he was seriously outgunned and he, too, went into exile in 1914.
Death in Texas:
After the fall of Huerta, Villa, Carranza, Obregón and Zapata began slugging it out amongst themselves. Seeing an opportunity, Orozco and Huerta met up in New Mexico and began planning a new revolt. They were captured by US forces and charged with conspiracy. Huerta died in prison, but Orozco escaped. He was shot and killed by Texas Rangers on August 30, 1915. According to the Texas version, he and his men tried to steal some horses and were tracked down and killed in the ensuing gunfight. According to the Mexicans, Orozco and his men were defending themselves from greedy Texas ranchers who wanted their horses.
Today, Orozco is considered a minor figure in the Revolution. He never reached the presidency and modern historians and readers prefer the flair of Villa or the idealism of Zapata. It should not be forgotten, however, that at the time of Madero's return to Mexico, Orozco commanded the largest and most powerful of the revolutionary armies and that he won several key battles in the early days of the revolution. Although it has been asserted by some that Orozco was an opportunist who coldly used the revolution to his own gain, that does not change the fact that if not for Orozco, Díaz may well have crushed Madero in 1911.
(His Body was moved back to Chihuahua, MX in the mid 20th century)
Orozco made a huge mistake when he supported the unpopular Huerta in 1913. Had he sided with his former ally Villa, he may have been able to stay in the game for a little longer.
Source: McLynn, Frank. Villa and Zapata: A History of the Mexican Revolution. New York: Carroll and Graf, 2000.
Frank Hanna 1859-1914
Many thanks to Shirley Louis, Great-grandniece & Ann Medcalf, Great-granddaughter
for this information on their relative Frank Hanna
Frank Hanna’s life did follow the history of his time. The Hanna‘s left Gilmer Township, near Quincy Illinois, on the Mississippi River, when Frank was three. The Civil War was getting a bit too close for comfort as General Grant’s campaign in the Mississippi Valley, 1862 -1863, and bordering the confederate state of Missouri; this was not a good place to be. They took ship around South America to San Francisco in time to see Jefferson Davis’ effigy burned. He spent his youth at Mud Springs, El Dorado County California, where he learned that mining gold was not the only way to find gold. The basic needs of the miners were worth gold to the provider and Frank met that need many times.
His family removed to Umatilla County Oregon, 1877, where he fought at Willow Springs during the Bannock-Paiute Indian War in 1878, at the age of 19, and was wounded 7 times. His next adventure took him, his young family and partner, to where they founded the City of Trail BC in 1890, having a Crown Grant for the land. He and his family first pitched tents on the shore of Trail Creek, where it empties into the Columbia River. Frank then built the “Trail House”, in 1890-91, and the “Hanna Block” (like a strip mall) to accommodate the influx of miners and their needs. His family home, that he built, had ten bedrooms and still stands today. As the smelter was established, there was also a new gold strike in the Molson Washington area. He could see the need for some of the same facilities in a town called Bonaparte, Okanogan, Washington. He was the first postmaster from January 21, 1903 to September 17, 1907. In 1926 the Fancher Dam was built which inundated the town and now known only as a ghost town.
He sold his homestead to his brother in 1910 and moved to El Paso with his new wife, Rhoda. His farm was near Juarez, Mexico in a town called Zaragosa. The Mexican Revolution was raging and in letters to family he spoke of hearing gunfire close to his home. That March, 1914, his wife passed away and his own health was dimming. His good friend, Bishop Arwell Pierce, was a kind man who was looking in on Frank and took him to Hotel Dieu in El Paso where he passed away 23, May 1914, a young man of fifty-five.
While in Mexico Franks friendship with Mr. Pierce, indicates Frank was a builder to the last, as said by Mr. Pierce in this excerpt from his May 30, 1914, letter to the family. “He fought death bravely just as he always did the trials of business life; I thought a great deal of him, for while a bit rough he was good at heart and an honest industrious man. I have known him ever since he came to this section and bought land in Mexico and have had much business dealings with him, always finding him very reliable and pleasant to deal with.” Mr. Pierce owned the Juarez Lumber Company and the yard was in Juarez with the office in El Paso.
Arwell said of Frank Hanna, “he was an honorable man” and we can say the same of Bishop Pierce. His letters to the family do reminded us Frank was a builder of buildings, bridges and was the kind of man who we, in this generation, are exceedingly proud to remember him as a member of our family.
Juana Maria Ascarate de Stephenson
Juana Maria Ascarate de Stephenson was an aristocratic daughter of a wealthy El Paso del Norte merchant and heir to a considerable fortune in land, cattle and mines in the Corralitas area. She married Hugh Stephenson, an Anglo-American, in August 1828. Hugh was a pioneer and fur trader from Kentucky. Juana and her husband, known as Don Hugo, built a great house they called “Casa de Grande de Alto” (Great High House) in a ranch estate called Concordia near what is now Concordia Cemetery.
Juana and her husband, while among the wealthiest in the region, felt a social obligation to the poor, sick and needy throughout the El Paso area.
Juana Ascárate de Stephenson died on February 6, 1856, when she was fatally gored by a pet deer she had nurtured from a fawn.
Documents identified a location of where Juana Asacarate was originally buried. The local was adjacent to the San Jose de Concordia el Alto Church in the area of Hammett and Rosa Streets. The area was taken over by the railroad around 1923. "The church was built approximately 1850 by Rev. Ramon Ortiz, the curate of Juarez. In 1923 a tombstone was found by Lozano de Carbajal and Cleofas Calleros. On it was written, "Maria Juan Ascarate de Stephenson, born February 8, 1800, died February 5, 1857." The monument is now located in the "French Family Plot" in the northwest corner of present day Concordia Cemetery. On it was written, "Maria Juan Ascarate de Stephenson, born February 8, 1800, died February 5, 1857." The monument is now located in the "French Family Plot" (distant relatives) in the northwest corner of present day Concordia Cemetery.
Hugh Stephenson was an El Paso pioneer, settler and trader who grew up in Concordia, Missouri. He was one of the first Anglo-Americans to come to the El Paso area. He settled in El Paso del Norte (today’s Ciudad Juarez) around 1824 and acquired two land grants: one in present-day El Paso, and the other south of what is now Las Cruces, New Mexico. Stephenson married Juana María Ascárate in August 1828.
In 1843 Stephenson moved to Corralitos to manage the silver mine belonging to his wife's family. In 1844 he established a community and called it Concordia, after his childhood home. Stephenson was the first Anglo-American to prospect in New Mexico. His silver mine, known in later years as the Stephenson and Bennett Mine, was in the Organ Mountains, east of Las Cruces. When the Civil War broke out, Stephenson purchased some Confederate bonds, which angered Union officials. They confiscated and sold his properties at Concordia and Brazito.
In November 1867 the Rio Grande flooded the garrison at Magoffinsville so Fort Bliss, the Army post, was moved to Concordia and known as Camp Concordia. Stephenson died on October 11, 1870, in La Mesa, New Mexico and was buried in Las Cruces.
Alto Rancho Concordia
Reverend Joseph Tays,
An Episcopal missionary who founded El Paso's first Protestant church, arrived in El Paso in 1870, a widower with two boys. C. L. Sonnichsen records the story that a month after he began his mission in El Paso, Tays sent word to Austin that he was "doing his best."
Tays was learning Spanish and at least one saloon keeper had closed his doors and found another vocation because of him. He not only preached and taught, he worked in real estate and served the county as surveyor. Tays laid the cornerstone of the first St. Clement's Episcopal Church on Christmas day in 1881.
Local Historian and Author [Leon Metz writes that after having conducted the funeral of a smallpox victim, Tays contracted the dreaded disease himself and died after week's suffering. Late in the evening of November 21, two men from the city wrapped Parson Tay's body in a sheet and delivered it quickly to Concordia.
He was buried without ceremony in the middle of the night during a violent rain storm. The man who had helped so many in early El Paso was buried with only two grave diggers present.
JAKE ERLICH - TALLEST MAN IN THE WORLD
Growing up, Andrew Erlich, Jakes nephew, loved hearing the stories about his uncle, Jake Erlich.
Erlich, who lived much of his life in El Paso , was a movie star featured in several silent films, and he also was a circus performer for several years. But Erlich was famous mainly for being taller than everyone else.
In fact, he was once named the "Tallest Man in the World," standing, by most accounts, at 8 feet, inches tall.
Jake Erlich died in 1952 at the age of 46, on his nephew's third birthday. But young Andrew remained fascinated by the stories he heard of Jake Erlich, whose stage name was Jack Earle.
"He went from being this shy, introverted boy giant to a movie star. He really embraced his differences," Andrew Erlich said.
For the past few years, Andrew Erlich has been working on a book based on the life of his famous uncle. Erlich said he is looking for a publisher, but in the meantime, he has developed a multimedia presentation about the life of Jake Erlich that he gives around the country.
"This really has been a labor of love for me," Andrew Erlich said, adding that the presentation is much more than just a lecture. It will include movie footage of some of Erlich's silent films, vintage photographs, footage from a PBS documentary, and a life-size portrait of Jake Erlich.
Jake Erlich also was a painter and a poet. He published a book of poetry titled "The Long Shadows," and Andrew Erlich will read excerpts from that book.
"He was a very proud El Pasoan," Andrew Erlich said. "I have some wonderful stories from people who knew him and have shared them with me."
-- Story by El Paso Times Reporter Maribel Villalva
Andrew Erlich stands next to a life-size photo of his late uncle, Jake Erlich. Jake Erlich of
El Paso , who was 8 foot tall and had fame as a performer in silent films and circuses.
(Photo courtesy of Andrew Erlich)
Many, Many thanks to Nancy Gonzalez, a UTEP Doctoral Student, for this picture.
She is with the UTEP History Dept and is working on a Doctorial Thesis of Concordia Cemetery
The Stephenson Family / Community Church - San Jose de Concordia Alto Church, Circa?
The church no longer exists. The thought is the white spire in the lower right hand corner
may have been the grave marker for Juana Ascaret Stephenson.
Interested in learning more about Concordia and People buried there click on the book below "Concordia the Walking Tour of Concordia Cemetery" book