From fossils to fire trucks

By Shannon Gillette
The old stone building stands three stories tall, and not a single square inch of space is wasted. The rooms of the Archer County Museum are packed with historical treasures. Over 7,000 items are on display.
The majority of the artifacts were collected by local historian, Jack Loftin. The curator, Mary Ann Levy, described the museum perfectly, “They call the Smithsonian ‘America’s Attic;’ this is Jack’s Attic.”
The collection is wide, vast and unique to Archer County. Housed among vintage baby clothes, kitchenalia, and old tools, there are Native American artifacts and old photographs, and that does not even begin to scratch the surface. Outside, on the museum grounds are even more great bits and pieces of Archer County’s Past.
The building itself holds a special place in Archer County’s history. It was the county jail, which served the community from 1910 until 1974. The ground floor was the living quarters for the Sheriff and his or her family. Also found on the ground floor was the drunk tank, which makes sense; it would be difficult to get inebriated prisoners up the steep metal staircase to the second floor.
The second floor held a women’s wing and general population cells. There is also an isolation cell called the “death cell” where prisoners sentenced to death were held until transferred to their final destination, on the physical earth anyway. The top floor was where the gallows were placed. Theater seating was installed for witnesses. The gallows, however, were never used. To read more pick up the April 2014 issue of North Texas Farm & Ranch.

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