Culberson County, Texas Genealogy & History

Van Horn

The Town so Healthy We Had to Shoot a Man to Start a Cemetery

VAN HORN, TEXAS. Van Horn, the county seat of Culberson County, is at the intersection of U.S. highways 80 and 90 and State Highway 54, on the Missouri Pacific Railroad thirty-six miles west of Kent in southwestern Culberson County. The Van Horn Wells were reportedly discovered twelve miles south of the future townsite by Maj. Jefferson Van Horne, who became commander at Fort Bliss in El Paso in 1849, and were well known to nineteenth century travelers. The first person to die in Van Horn was an infant child of the Beach family, in 1881, whereupon Beach gave a plat of land west of town for use as a cemetery. According to local legend, the first adult to die was rancher A. S. Goynes, and his passing was not without irony. In tribute to Van Horn's climate, Goynes supposedly suggested the motto, "This Town Is So Healthy We Had to Shoot a Man to Start a Cemetery," which later hung in the lobby of the Clark Hotel. Shortly thereafter Goynes was shot dead by his brother-in-law in a feud over a watering hole, thereby becoming the first man buried in the Van Horn cemetery. Read the rest of the Van Horn history from the Handbook of Texas Online.

Van Horn, Texas History from

Van Horn, Texas from Texas Escapes

Van Horn, Texas from

The old El Capitan Hotel in Van Horn from Texas Escapes

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Population in 2000: 2,435

Elevation: 4047 feet

Van Horn, Texas Convention & Visitors Bureau


  • Van Horn High School, 200 W. 7th St
  • Van Horn Junior High, 400 W. 7th St., grades 6-8
  • Eagle Elementary, 400 W. 7th St, grades preK-5