Doña Ana County



After negotiations that spanned two decades, the famous horse-drawn hearse that carried Sheriff Pat Garrett to his final resting place in 1908 is back in Doña Ana County.

The antique hearse, owned by the Woman’s Improvement Association until 1912, was recently purchased privately and then donated to the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department for permanent installation in the Historical Museum of Lawmen, located inside the lobby of the department’s main headquarters at 845 N. Motel Boulevard in Las Cruces.

Las Cruces resident Cal Traylor, a lifelong New Mexican and history buff with a particular fondness for information related to the murder of Pat Garrett, spearheaded the negotiations for the hearse and subsequently donated it to the museum.

Traylor spent the past 20 years working to acquire the hearse, which was traced to an art museum in Piños Altos, with the intentions of returning it to Doña Ana County.

“It was simply misplaced at its former location in Grant County,” said Traylor, whose research concluded the Women’s Improvement Association sold the hearse to local farmer Hal Cox, who converted it to a farm trailer until selling it to Grant County resident and antique collector Frank Tatsch in 1935. Tatsch later restored the hearse to its original condition and placed in the Piños Altos museum. After Tatsch’s death, the hearse was willed to his son, who sold the hearse to Traylor.

“Unfortunately, that museum was hard to find and rarely open,” said Traylor. “This is a rare piece of local history, and it was important that it not only be returned to Doña Ana County, but also made accessible to anyone who would like to see it.”

The popularity of Western history, and Garrett’s affiliation with Doña Ana County, was of particular interest to Traylor. He contacted the sheriff’s office and was connected with Jim Beasley, a retired deputy of the department and curator of the lawman’s museum.

“The Garrett hearse is a monumental addition to our museum,” said Beasley. “We were honored that Mr. Traylor contacted us and found it fitting that Sheriff Garrett’s last ride should be back home at the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department.”

After careful transportation arrangements were made to get the hearse from Piños Altos to Las Cruces, Beasley and Traylor, along with a group of volunteers from the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Mounted Patrol, traveled to Grant County to personally escort the hearse back home. It took more than six men to roll the cart down a flight of stairs from the art museum, onto a trailer, and then through the front doors of the sheriff’s office on Motel Boulevard.

The group traveled two-lane highways and back roads to ensure a smooth ride for the hearse.
“Finally,” was the first word Traylor said as the hearse was set in place inside the museum.

Future plans for the hearse include an official public reception, where printed material will be made available on its history, and other points of interest related to Pat Garrett – including the murder site east of Las Cruces and the current location of Garrett’s grave at Masonic Cemetery.

Visitors to the Historical Museum of Lawmen inside the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department can view the Garrett hearse Monday through Friday during normal museum hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on weekends and holidays.
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Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department Public Information Communication Specialist Kelly Jameson at (575) 386-4302.