Encompassing almost one acre of land, the Port Isabel Cemetery is located on property granted to Don Rafael Garcia by the government of Mexico in 1829. The land was known as the Santa Ysabel Grant, and Garcia soon established a ranch he named El Fronton de Santa Isabel (Saint Elizabeth's Bluff). Garcia continued to reside at his home in Matamoros, Mexico, and the ranch was operated by hired workers.
According to local tradition, the workers on El Fronton de Santa Isabel Ranch began to use this site as a burial ground as early as the 1840s. No grave markers from that time period survive, however, and the oldest marked graves in the cemetery date to the 1880s. The ground was consecrated for use as a Catholic cemetery by French Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in December 1849, although it has served as a community burial ground for people of all faiths throughout its history.
Later owners of the land included members of the Champion (Campeoni) Family, who immigrated to America from Italy in the early 19th Century. The Champion Family donated the cemetery property to the Catholic Church in 1926. It remains an important element of Port Isabel's cultural history.