While it may have been well intended, a recent “cleanup” of the San Pedro cemetery is believed to have left 5-10 graves unmarked because head and foot stones have been displaced.
Located about a mile east of San Antonio, just off Highway 380, the San Pedro cemetery has graves dating back to the early 1800s, and there is a big contrast between some of the resting places of those interred there.
Some graves are fenced-in family plots, and others are simple wooden crosses that have deteriorated to splinters.
Even more simple are grave plots marked only by rocks near the family of Loretta Taylor, and she, along with her two sisters, Charlene West, and Gloria Armijo, are seeking the public’s help to find out who did the cleanup.
Nobody is quite sure who donated the land the graves are located on, but the memories of the trio’s family members run deep.
Before his death, the sisters’ father, Santiago Padilla, donated half the money to build the chain link fence that surrounds the property. The remaining funds were put together through a raffle established by families with loved ones buried in San Pedro.
“There’s one (a grave) there for darn sure. There were a few here; I will say at least 5-10. It was a double row,” West said.
The area West is pointing to is barren of grave headstones except for some tiny wires covered with specks of concrete still stuck fast into the ground. The marker’s base is deep in the earth and is the only reason the grave underneath is still findable.
Taylor believes someone may have used some machine to flatten areas of San Pedro, and in the process, head and foot stones were moved.
“The stones are gone,” Taylor said. “Somebody was walking over here. Look at the stones here. I don’t remember those rocks. They piled rocks over there. There were graves right in here,” Taylor said.
As the two awaited their sister’s arrival, they had gone from thinking the “damage” done was vandalism to perhaps a misguided cleanup effort. Fallen wooden crosses and other markers displaced over the years by weather had been straightened and placed in lines.
There’s no board of directors and no known record of all the burials in the San Pedro Cemetery, which means there’s no guidance. With missing grave markers, there’s the concern that someone’s resting spot may be inadvertently disturbed.
“Who do we shoot?” Armijo asks as she arrives to meet her sisters on Monday. She’s only half joking, but after taking a trip through the cemetery, she concludes that someone has come in and attempted to straighten things up.
Well-intended or not, the cleanup has upset the trio because the cemetery is private, and nobody knows who did it. The Socorro Sheriff’s Department sent an investigator to take a complaint, but there may be little to go on because heavy rain wiped out all tracks.
It’s believed the cleanup occurred sometime in the last six weeks, and West is hoping whoever did it (or someone who knows) will reach out so they can clarify the situation.
“I don’t think it was malicious. I believe they were thinking they were doing good,” West said. “Anyone with any information can reach me at (505) 720-5636.”