BERNALILLO, N.M. (KRQE) - The town of Bernalillo uncovered 200 years of history. Neighborsdiscovered an old cemetery south of U.S. Highway 550 near therailroad just two months ago.
Weeds and shrubs grew over the tombstones. Some of the gravesdate back to the 1800s. Few people even knew the cemeteryexisted.
"A lot of people walk by this cemetery on [a] particular pathand don't even realize it's there," said Roxanne Smyth.
She and her husband have strolled by the graves for yearswithout knowing it existed. Then, one day, she wandered off thepath and stumbled upon a headstone.
"There's so much history that's in here," said Smyth.
Vandals and sheer time destroyed some of the headstones over theyears. Many tombstones are cracked, broken or missing. Other gravesare simply marked with rocks.
About 100 people are buried there, but no one seems to know whothey were. The state archives, the local Archdiocese and the neabychurch all had only partial records of those who rest there. Thereis no complete data of who is buried in those graves.
In fact, few knew who even owned the land. The Father StephenImbarrato of Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Bernalillo did not knowhis church owned the property until it was recently rediscovered.Fr. Imbarrato walked through the cemetery for the first time twomonths ago. He realized the headstones were hard to read, so he setout on a mission.
"What a shame," Fr. Imbarrato said in reference to theweed-covered graves. "We can clean this up pretty well."
So, they did. Volunteers with the 4-H club and the Knights of Columbusin Bernalillo helped clean up the cemetery and weeded thegrounds. Soon, the Knights of Columbus will make 80 crosses toidentify the unmarked graves. As for identifying the bodies, theFather is asking around the parish, hoping a conversation sparkssomeone's memory about a loved one who is buried there.
If you think your relative is buried there, call
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