Cities, Towns & Communities
Archer County, 1922. Archer is one of the Northwest Texas counties still in process of transformation from the old range and ranch conditions to that of settled agricultural industry. With the rapid immigration into the Northern counties during the ’50s, the legislature provided by act of January 22, 1858, for the boundaries of a new county in honor of Branch T. Archer, and directed that the county seat should be called Archer. Few, if any, settlers reached that county before the war, and more than twenty years passed before it was organized. The county government was instituted July 27, 1880. A report on the county for 1882 said: “Stock raising and farming are the only industries yet introduced. The former is by far the most general. That it is already assuming comparatively large proportions will be seen from the fact that with a population of perhaps a thousand, there are in the county 24,845 cattle, 4,258 sheep, 1,273 horses and mules. Agriculture is in its infancy in this county. The oldest farm is not yet five years old, and the few tracts under cultivation are small, varying from ten to one hundred acres. The only town is Archer City, which contains perhaps one hundred inhabitants. Riman is a small settlement.”
At the census of 1880 the population of the county was 596; in 1890, 2,101; in 1900, 2,508 ; in 1910, 6,525; in 1920, 5,254. The decrease is attributable to the removal of tenant farmers occasioned by the protracted drought. A considerable number of German and Austrian people have settled in Archer County, and have been effective factors in developing the agricultural resources.
Archer County’s early development followed the construction of railways into the Wichita Falls country during the ’80s. The first railway line in the county was the Wichita Valley, which was built from Wichita Falls to Seymour across the northwestern corner of Archer County in 1890. About 1907 the Wichita Falls & Southern was completed through the county, giving Archer City its first railway communication. A little later the Southwestern road was built from Henrietta to Archer City. Within the present decade, the Gulf, Texas & Western has crossed the southwestern corner of the county. It is largely due to these railways and the consequent influx of population that Archer County during the past ten or fifteen years has undergone a rapid evolution from a strictly livestock county to one of farms and diversified agriculture. However, much of the county is yet undeveloped and it is classified more strictly as a part of the Texas “cow country” rather than as a farming section. The total area of the county is 558,080 acres. The last census reported 443,915 acres in farms and ranches, but only 80,000 acres as “improved land.” In 1920 the livestock was : Cattle, 36,827, and horses and mules, 6,827. In 1909 the acreage in cotton was 18,058; in corn, 8,680; in wheat, 4,018; in hay and forage crops, 4,128; in oats, 2,740; and a limited acreage in kafir corn and milo maize. About nine thousand orchard fruit trees were enumerated.
The total value of taxable property in 1881 was $695,170, of which about forty per cent was represented by livestock ; in 1903 the valuation had risen to $2.438,910; in 1913, to $6,869,114, and in 1920 to $7,801.064. – History of Texas, 1922, by W. Barrett Travis, pages 702-705.
Archer County. On January 22, 1858, the Texas legislature marked off Archer County from Clay County and named it in honor of Republic of Texas commissioner Branch Tanner Archer. No settlers had yet arrived. By 1875, however, the United States Army had driven all the Indians from North Texas and the area was open to settlement.
In 1874 the first American settler, Dr. R. O. Prideaux, originally from England, settled on the West Fork of the Trinity River in southeastern Archer County. Cowboys rode these lines daily to drive stray animals back to their respective territories. Barbed wire was introduced in the fall of 1880, and great pastures were fenced. Herd owners divided the county into three portions. The T Fork and 99 pastures controlled the north section, the OX Ranch and Circle Ranch pastures formed the central part, and the LM, TIP, JJ, CLA Bar, Mule Shoe, GAR, Figure 3, Lazy H, and other smaller ranches occupied the southern portion.
Meanwhile, farmers were also moving into the area. Colonists located vacant or unpatented lands throughout the county and built dugout or log, board, or stone houses. By 1880, 596 people lived on fifty-three ranches and farms in Archer County.In November 1879 farmers combined with the small ranchers in Archer County and presented a petition to the commissioners’ court of Clay County calling for the political organization of Archer County. Larger cattle interests, bitterly opposed to organization, protested and delayed the process, but in the spring of 1880 the court ordered an election. Archer County was organized on July 27 of that year. Read More Archer County History from the Handbook of Texas Online.
Archer County has had two courthouses. The first one was built in 1880 and the second and present courthouse, built in 1892. The 1892 courthouse in it’s original condition, below right, from a painting hanging in the Archer County Courthouse.
Trails Through Archer by Jack Loftin, Burnet, Texas: Nortex, 1979