Herzstein Memorial Museum

Where History Comes to Life...

Exhibits include items given to the museum by the Herzstein family, memorabilia from local families, historic room settings and local history (including the capture and hanging of the notorious murderer and train-robber Black Jack Ketchum), and an exhibit on the 1930s’ Dust Bowl and its effect on Northeastern New Mexico.

Tom "Black Jack" Ketchum, born on Halloween 1863, in San Saba, Texas. He was hung for robbing a train, his decapitation ended a troubled life.

Before Ketchum lost his head, a photographer captured the noose being placed around his neck. Ketchum holds the dubious distinction of being the only person ever put to death for the offense of “felonious assault upon a railway train” in New Mexico Territory
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Jim Deam Saddles Exhibit

Museum Exhibits

WPA Collection Exhibit

The Dust Bowl, also known as the Dirty Thirties, was a period of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the ecology and agriculture of the US and Canadian prairies during the 1930s; severe drought and a failure to apply dryland farming methods to prevent wind erosion (the Aeolian processes) caused the phenomenon.

Santa Fe Trail Exhibit

Black Jack Ketchum Exhibit

The museum has taken on the exhibition of the WPA collection from Clayton High School. The Clayton High School campus is a living tribute to President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and in particular the Works Projects Administration (WPA).

The Museum contains one of the largest displays of Jim Deam saddles. A local saddle maker who grew up in Clayton, and was famous for his saddle making.

The Clayton school buildings were constructed as WPA projects in the late 1930s. The buildings are in a Pueblo Revival architectural style. There are several buildings within the complex. Many Union County workers, artists, and craftsmen were involved in the building and furnishing of of the school as part of one of the largest WPA projects in the United States. Examples of the handmade furniture, hand-woven and embroidered draperies, ceramic dishes, tin work light fixtures, iron and copper work, and fine art made for the high school can be seen at the Herzstein Museum.

The Dust Bowl Exhibit

The Santa Fe Trail was an historic trail from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico used in the 1800’s for trade and military.   Explore the famous Santa Fe Trail which ran north of Clayton, New Mexico, and see the many artifacts that were found on the trail.