EL PASO — Shattered headstones are the only evidence of what was once a peaceful resting place for the lost loved ones of many Fabens residents. Ceramic shards and broken beer bottles litter the vandalized property that is now called Fabens’ forgotten cemetery.
Ed Thick, a former Fabens resident started a Facebook group Fabens’ Forgotten Cemetery- Now Known As Fabens Cemetery on March 18 to create awareness that the cemetery was in need of restoration.
As the Facebook group started catching the eyes of Fabens residents, Thick started up a GoFundMe.com account to get the ball rolling for online donations that would help fund the much needed restoration.
Christy Bidwell, a co-administrator for the group’s Facebook page, has now become fully involved with the restoration process, along with her family.
“Photos of the cemetery were being shared on Facebook and that is what led us to our own Facebook page,” said Bidwell. “It just snowballed from there.”
Her husband, Gayle Bidwell, has a strong connection to the cemetery. His father Glen Bidwell was the cemetery’s last caretaker in the early 1970’s. Gayle’s father and grandparents are buried in the cemetery, but the headstones that marked their resting places were stolen.
“We know they are there but like many, many others that are out there, they have been lost,” said Christy.
The Bidwells are looking for the unmarked graves of their loved ones and they are trying to find out more about who else is buried in the 6-acre lot that once was owned by the Immanuel Baptist Church. Once the church dissolved in the late 1970’s, so did the condition of the cemetery.
“We’re not real sure who holds the property but we’re going to go ahead and clean it up. It needs to be done regardless of who it belongs to,” said Christy, “Fabens as a community is going to start taking care of it.”
Thanks to the Facebook group, families have been able to find information about their lost loved ones through the photos and stories shared on the page.
“Right now through family members we have identified at least 30 people who have been buried there,” said Christy.
As of April 29th, the group’s GoFundMe.com account has raised $3,413 to go toward the restoration project and 491 members belong to the Facebook group.
If you would like to donate to the Fabens Forgotten Cemetery, you can do so by logging on to www.gofundme.com/Fabens-Forgotten-Cemetery.