County Seat: Archer City • County Population: 9,105 (2010 U.S. Census)
County Judge: Gary W. Beesinger
- Precinct 1 Richard Shelley
- Precinct 2 Darin Wolf
- Precinct 3 Pat Martin, III
- Precinct 4 Daryl Lightfoot
The 1892 Archer County Courthouse was designed by Fort Worth architect Alonzo Dawson. In 1925, the courthouse was dramatically remodeled by another prominent Fort Worth architect, Elmer G. Withers. The original tower was removed, and a third floor of offices was added. Due to the substantial changes and the importance of Withers, the restoration returned the courthouse to its 1925 appearance and configuration; for example, wood windows were installed to match the 1925 design. In addition, the contemporary lowered ceiling of the courtroom was removed, and the district court balcony was restored. Wood floors throughout the building were uncovered from beneath layers of vinyl tile. The mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems were replaced, and the courthouse was made accessible to those with disabilities. The courthouse was rededicated May 12, 2005.
Known for its link to famous Texas novelist Larry McMurtry, Archer County was organized in 1880 and named for Branch Tanner Archer, a Texas revolutionary and congressman. McMurtry grew up on a ranch just outside of Archer City, the county seat, graduating from Archer City High School in 1954. He later used the town as a setting for two of his movies. In fact, the Royal Theater, featured in “The Last Picture Show,” remains across the street from the courthouse. In 1970, McMurtry bought a rare-book store in Washington, D.C.’s, Georgetown neighborhood and named it Booked Up. A second Booked Up was opened in Archer City in 1988.
The county’s history is detailed in the Archer County Historical Museum, located in Archer City’s old stone jailhouse. The museum houses more than 5,000 items including a collection of Permian fossils, blacksmith tools, western paintings, Indian artifacts, and early photographs and newspapers.
Archer County is home to several cities, including Windthorst, well known as a dairy community. The area includes about 80 dairies in and around Windthorst within 10 miles of the center of the city. Ranching and oil are two other major industries in in the area. And, perhaps a little-known fact, Archer County is known as the “Short Grass Ranching Capital” of the nation because the area’s short grass has tremendous strength and nutritious qualities.
Finally, area lakes afford countywide recreation thanks to Lake Arrowhead, Lake Kickapoo and Lake Wichita, and hunting grounds offer dove, quail, deer, feral hog and coyote.