Esparza Cemetery is named in honor of Carlos Villarreal Esparza, 1828-1885. The cemetery was started in 1888 when Carlos' wife, Francisca Garcia, and the family decided that they needed a new cemetery location because of flood problems and ingress to the old location. According to the family, the old cemetery was started in the mid 1800's. Francisca brought the remains of her husband Carlos and other family members, including the remains of Carlos' parents, Pedro Esparza and Felicidad Villarreal, to the new location north of Hwy 281 and buried them in the large "boveda" (above ground burial tomb) located in the middle of the cemetery.

Pedro Esparza and Felicidad Villarreal first came to this area in the1820's with the other families that inherited this land. When Felicidad died in 1858 she left her land to her husband Pedro Esparza. Upon his death the land was divided by their six children, of whom Carlos was one.

After the Mexican American War there was much unrest in the area. Many American settlers were coming to the area and some were disregarding the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This treaty ended the war and gave the Mexican owners the rights to their land. Several of the ranchers in the area, led by Juan Cortinas, started the first movement for the rights of Mexican Americans. Carlos was a leader in this movement because the early settlers had to fight the newcomers that tried to take their land illegally. Carlos stayed and protected his land. With the money he made farming and ranching, he was able to buy additional land from neighbors who moved back to Mexico.


Carlos had five sons. All of his sons stayed on the ranch and raised their families. When Carlos' wife Francisca died in 1914, she was laid to rest beside her husband in the large boveda. Four of Carlos's sons and three of his daughters were also laid to rest at the Esparza Cemetery, thus fulfilling the wishes of their mother.