Francisca “Doña Paca” Alarcon, El Paso pioneer and landowner, was born in Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, Mexico, probably in 1828. Her obituaries listed her birthdate as August 25, 1828, but her death certificate gave January 1828 as the time of her birth. She married Mexican banker Luis Faudoa, president of Banco Minero. They had one child, Francisco Faudoa. After Luis’s death, Doña Paca emigrated to the United States. About 1857 she traveled by oxcart train with a group of thirty individuals and arrived in the present-day Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and El Paso, Texas, region. In 1861 she married William Conklin, superintendent of the stagecoach line between Texas and California. They had two daughters, Maria and Isabel. Doña Paca was widowed for a second time when Conklin died after being shot by an unknown attacker.
Using money she had inherited after Luis Faudoa’s death, Doña Paca Alarcon purchased plots in El Paso in the area of South El Paso Street and West San Antonio Avenue, as well as a home on the corner of Santa Fe and San Francisco streets. Her wealth also garnered political influence. Family tradition holds that when her daughter Isabel’s husband, George Look, ran for the alderman position in the old First Ward in Southwest El Paso, Alarcon purchased votes in his favor. The cost was three dollars in silver per ballot. El Paso newspaper features recalled that she opened her home to the growing city and hosted both the first Jesuit Mass and military balls for Fort Bliss soldiers in her living room. Several prominent El Pasoans, including army engineer and surveyor Anson Mills, rented rooms from her. And according to one rumor as written in the August 15, 1961, edition of the El Paso Herald-Post, she carried clandestine messages between the U.S. Army at Fort Bliss and Benito Juárez while he resided in Ciudad Juárez and challenged the French occupation of Mexico.
Alarcon considered aiding the less fortunate to be “Christ’s religion.” She practiced this doctrine by delivering food and clothing to her tenement residents, assisting the homeless during a flood, helping during a smallpox epidemic, and distributing gold coins. She also fed the poor on religious holidays and compelled her grandchildren to serve them as a lesson in humility. Local Catholic churches continued to receive yearly donations from Alarcon, even though she had been excommunicated for marrying Conklin, who was a Mason.
Throughout her life, Doña Paca Alarcon maintained her maiden name, although the Anglo population sometimes distorted it to “Grandmother Parker.” El Paso’s Golden Jubilee Exposition of 1923 honored her as one of El Paso’s oldest longtime residents. Many of her descendants also lived in El Paso and were notable figures. Her granddaughter, Rita Faudoa (daughter of Francisco), was a health care worker in obstetrics and pediatrics for thirty-five years. Another granddaughter, Josephine Escontrias (daughter of Maria), married James C. Thornton in 1900; a local newspaper deemed their wedding a lavish affair. Francisca Doña Paca Alarcon passed away after a brief illness on November 6, 1925, in El Paso, Texas, and was buried in Concordia Cemetery.