January 14, 2022
An exhibition featuring TT Hagaman’s Southwest Collection, which includes a wide range of historical artifacts from across New Mexico, is open to visitors in the Highlands University Ray Drew Gallery through Feb. 18, 2022.
The Rarities of New Mexico Territory exhibition includes artifacts such as illustrative oil paintings, old newspapers, Thomas Mullarky’s early twentieth century Native American photographs, and furniture—including the chair Mesilla Judge Warren Bristol sat in when he sentenced Billy the Kid. Among the rarest items in the collection is a first edition copy of Pedro de Castaneda’s narrative of the Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca’s seven-year Spanish exploration of North America.
TT Hagaman currently serves as a regional representative for the New Mexico Economic Development Department, and his interest in collecting historical artifacts began when he was a child. Initially, Hagaman collected fossils but his interest in President Abraham Lincoln, along with a visit to Philmont Boy Scout Ranch when he was in high school, led to his interest in collecting historical items from New Mexico.
“My first collectible in the exhibit is Pat Garrett’s Authentic Life of Billy the Kid,” said Hagaman. “The copy in the exhibit was actually annotated with an autographed letter from Jim East who captured Billy the Kid before he arrived in Las Vegas with Sheriff Pat Garrett.”
Hagaman said he hopes visitors will be inspired by the old original maps and other artifacts, like historical branding irons, that might encourage New Mexicans to become curious about their ancestry.
“Branding irons are the oldest objects in the world identifying ownership, for range and livestock,” said Hagaman. “The key to collecting is narrowing your focus and my focus is on Southwest exploration and the most complete brand book collection in New Mexico.”
Hagaman is writing a biography of James H East, who was involved in the arrest of Billy the Kid, and he is at work on a script about the Santa Clause Bank Robbery that concluded in 1929. He also plans to write about Abraham Lincoln and Billy the Kid.
“My goal is to place my collection in a New Mexico State University library so that our next young historians have the tools to research and write from the rarities of the New Mexico Territory,” said Hagaman.
“This exhibit is truly a unique collection of historical pieces related to New Mexico,” said Ray Drew Gallery curator, Karlene Gonzales-Martinez. “Several pieces are representative of our area and will certainly pique the interest of viewers.”