The Witch’s Grave
Old Mesilla and the area around it has had a dubious history, even before anyone officially settled there. The city of Las Cruces, the second largest city in New Mexico and a mere 6 miles from the quaint town of Old Mesilla was so named because of an 1830 massacre of a wagon train headed west along the trail known as El Camino Real. When the survivors buried their dead, they put up the requisite markings of crosses. Those following used it as a landmark, calling it “La Placita De Las Cruces”–the place of the crosses. Those who settled along the trail shortened it to Las Cruces. Las Cruces is now a bustling modern metropolitan, but enter Mesilla, New Mexico and you step back two hundred years.
Mesilla still has the thick adobe walled buildings that kept out both heat and dust. This was where Billy the Kid was caught, jailed, and allowed to escape. This is also the home of San Albino’s cemetery, home of the Witch’s Grave.
At the end of Calle De Lupe is the dirt packed ground that composes the cemetery. Tumbleweeds skitter across the graves, but your eyes will be drawn from the beautiful sculptures that serve as tombstones to a 4’x4’ cinderblock and cement tomb decorated with a 2‘ black cross that someone has carved with the number “666.” This, legend says, is the Witch’s tomb. It is the only headstone in the cemetery that has no name inscribed on it. There is no record of who she is or what she had done to get such a fortified grave, but it has been said that when she was buried there, her ghost kept trying to get out from its supposed final resting place. She has spent decades trying to find a crack that will set her free, and those who live near the cemetery have spent just as many years repairing the cracks that do appear.
Local lore claims a girl once slept on the tomb in response to a dare. She walked away alive, but was afterwards afflicted with incurable epilepsy. Further caution to those who feel the need to visit– in case escaping witches and mysterious illnesses aren’t enough, the fine folk who live near the cemetery do not appreciate late night visitors, and strongly discourage entering the cemetery after dark.