One of the oldest cemeteries in Brownsville lays on the other side of the border fence, almost forgotten, a local nonprofit organization trying to bring it back to life.
For some people, the fence is a barrier to preserving the Santa Rosalia Cemetery, that’s existed since the 1800s, where nearly 1,000 people are buried, including several veterans.
“I would think that had a major impact on this becoming abandoned,” said Juan Gonzalez, Santa Rosalia Preservation Society President.
If people want to visit their loved ones’ gravesite, they have to enter through a gap in the border fence.
“They’re afraid of snakes, we’re close to the river, Border Patrol all around, people are a little eerie about coming out here,” Gonzalez said.
But the Santa Rosalia Cemetery Preservation Society, led by Gonzalez, is doing something about it.
“Now we’re just the groundskeepers. A year ago the grass was about 6 feet tall and now as you can see it’s been taken care of for the last year and I think that would be the main goal right now,” Gonzalez said.
But others like Eugene Fernandez, Historic Brownsville Museum Manager, believe the abandonment of the cemetery was not caused by the border fence.
“I am on a committee with the Border Protection agencies and it’s a known fact that you can come through that gate at anytime you wish,” Fernandez said.
But like history is often forgotten, the gravesites have been as well.
“The concentration of coming back and taking care of their dearly departed ones goes away after time and that’s a sad comment for humanity,” Fernandez said.
But despite that, Gonzalez, and the rest of the Santa Rosalia Cemetery Preservation Society will continue their efforts to bring the graveyard back to life.
“Because of its connection to the history of Brownsville and I have family members who are buried here,” Gonzalez said.
The Santa Rosalia Cemetery Preservation Society was founded in January, and the nonprofit organization is looking for volunteers to help them with their mission.