A Taos patron of the arts, Mabel Dodge Luhan first lured David Herbert Richards Lawrence to New Mexico and eventually gave him and his wife, Frieda, the San Cristobal ranch.

Lawrence visited the property three separate times from 1922 to 1925. During those months-long visits, Lawrence wrote "St. Mawr," which includes vivid descriptions of the ranch.After Lawrence was diagnosed with tuberculosis in the summer of 1925, at age 40, the couple returned to Europe. Lawrence died in 1930 and was buried in Europe.

Frieda Lawrence and her future husband, Angelo Ravagali, later returned to the ranch near Taos. And Ravagali, upon her request, had Lawrence's body exhumed and cremated.

Some believe that Ravagali had trouble bringing the ashes back and dumped them in Europe, said Hugh Witemeyer, a University of New Mexico English professor.

By those accounts, Ravagali is said to have obtained different ashes in America, Witemeyer said. But others have maintained that Ravagali indeed returned Lawrence's ashes to New Mexico. They say the ashes were left first at the Lamy railroad station near Santa Fe and later in the bar at La Fonda, a Santa Fe hotel, before finally arriving in Taos.

In any case, Frieda Lawrence mixed the ashes into a batch of concrete, now displayed as a solid block in the shrine, to prevent them being stolen. The cement block is emblazoned with the initials DHL.