Ghosts: the legends of our city’s past

Jaime Quesada, Contributor

I began my sojourn into the mystical world when I covered Paul Bradford’s School of Paranormal investigation at the end of Septemeber. The event was held at the Museum of History and it involved a two-hour panelist talk and a one-hour electronic voice phenomena session. With the tips and tools of an investigator, I set out for the month of October to do a weekly paranormal investigation.

My first investigation of the rumored haunted Isla Iglesia went horribly awry with a short chase out of Fabens by Border Patrol agents. Then, under the leadership of the Paso del Norte Paranormal Society, I roamed the dirt paths of Concordia Cemetery and the time-worn buildings of Downtown. These are my findings.

Concordia Cemetery

At Concordia Cemetery I, and about 60 others participating in the tour, met up with Heather Shade of the Paso Del Norte Paranormal Society to investigate the activity in the cemetery. She was incredibly knowledgeable with off-the-cuff information on the entire cemetery. She informed us that a large group of Buffalo Soldiers—who were originally marked as one mass grave—are buried at the cemetery, and they were recently given a full memorial section with individual headstones to commemorate their service. Shade said many people have heard cavalry marching around the mass grave.

Many of our city’s founders have been laid to rest in Concordia Cemetery. Florida J. Wolfe, also known as “Lady Flo,” was an African-American woman who married Lord Delaval James Beresford, a wealthy Irish plantation owner. Because of Texas laws prohibiting interracial marriages, the couple was forced to live in Cuidad Juárez but spent a lot of time in El Paso. After the Lord Beresford’s death, his family contested her right of ownership to his company and estates and left her with a mere $15,000.

To make ends meet, Wolfe opened one of the most famous brothels in El Paso while funding the police and fire departments at the same time. It’s said she has been observed walking around her grave-site both day and night.

Unlike many ghost encounters, she is considered intelligent as she acknowledges your presence by waving or nodding and then continues her walk. This is just a small example of the important historical figures buried at Concordia.

There is a dedicated Chinese graveyard for the immigrants who crossed the border to help build train tracks.

Downtown El Paso

The Downtown ghost tours are filled with just as many ghost stories, only more violent. Again, I showed up with at least 60 other people. Henry Flores, the founder of Paso Del Norte Paranormal Society, was our tour guide. Like his fellow investigator Shade, he also was extremely knowledgeable about our local history. Before starting the tour he told us how he and his team perform investigations.

As opposed to stirring up spirits with challenges and verbal assaults, his team does research on the building and different events surrounding it. With this information, he draws out ghosts through contexts that would be familiar to them. With pauses in between questions, they often get verbal responses that their recorders may catch.

On this tour, we visited the Palace Saloon, where it’s reported that you can hear people call out names and ask for drinks. This place has plenty of ghosts, but none are violent or aggressive. More often than not, the activity here is referred to as residual energy, meaning they don’t interact with the living, but instead act like a recording on a loop replaying constantly.

Finally, we arrived at the scene of John Wesley Hardin’s murder. He was a renowned outlaw and gunfighter who had a higher kill count than both Billy the Kid and Jesse James. Hardin was killed at the Acme Saloon while having a few drinks. After so many people began to visit his corpse still lying on the floor, the saloon owner began to charge the public. Today, the Acme Saloon stands as the Lerner store on 227 East San Antonio Ave.

Ultimately, it turned out that these investigations turned out to be more of a historical tour than an actual ghost hunt. El Paso is indeed haunted and I would highly recommend any ghost tour you can find. Still, El Paso is only haunted because we have a rich history of Chinese immigrants who died building railroads, violent men who met their end on our streets and woman, such as Wolfe, who contributed to the city’s foundation.

To see more of my ghostly adventures, visit theprospectordaily.com and check out my weekly Jaime Picks Up video blog.

Jaime Quesada may be reached at [email protected]