City of Archer
City of Archer Links: Churches
Prior to 1850, a town called Deer Hammock was established where the town of Archer is today. In 1858 The Florida Town Improvement Company, owned by the Florida Railroad Company, laid out a town here and named it Archer after General James T. Archer Florida's first Secretary of State (1845-49). The first trains stopped in Archer in 1859.
Archer is a city in Alachua County, in the Gainesville metro area. The community was named for Confederate Brig. Gen. James J. Archer The latitude of Archer is 29.529N. The longitude is -82.519W. It is in the Eastern Standard time zone. Elevation is 92 feet. The estimated population, in 2003, was 1,293.
Archer's development was linked to railroad expansion an Florida. David Levy Yulee, Florida's first senator after the state's admission to the Union in 1845, was granted a charter in 1855 by the Florida legislature to build a railroad from Fernandina to Cedar Key. In about 1858 the tracks were completed to Darden's Hammock (originally an Indian settlement called Deer Hammock) near present-day Archer. A post office was established in 1859. The town is named after Florida's first Secretary of State, James T. Archer, a friend of Yulee and advocate of internal improvements. Archer prospered after railroads damaged during the Civil War were repaired; and, the town influenced the presidential race of 1876 when local election results were challenged and then declared by Congres-sional committee to be in favor of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes. Railroads transported the citrus crops of Quaker settlers, who came to Archer from Ohio and Indiana in the late 1870s and 1880s, until the freezes of 1885/86, 1894/95 and 1899 devastated the orange groves. The last train passed through Archer in 1968, but pride remains in the town's rich historical past.
Like Waldo, Archer was renamed when the railroad came to town. Before the 1850s, when the Florida Town Improvement Company, a division of the Florida Railroad Company, platted a 40-acre town site, Archer was known first as Deer Hammock and then as Darden's Hammock. David Levy Yulee, the president of the company that transformed the bucolic little village into an up-and-coming rail center, named the town for his friend General James T. Archer, Florida's first Secretary of State, who had helped Yulee with the incorporation of his cross-state railroad enterprise.
Business picked up in Archer as the right of way for the railroad was graded and a few shops were built near the new depot. Homes, a school, and a Methodist church soon followed, and farmers and growers in the area looked forward eagerly to shipping their crops to market on the railroad. But it would not be until after the Civil War that full passenger and freight service would become available. Farmers hauled loads of sugar cane, cotton, sweet potatoes, and a variety of fruits and vegetables into Archer, which became quite a prosperous town in the late 1800s, with nine general stores, a hotel, and scores of small businesses.
A new depot was constructed in the 1890s when Henry Plant built a north-south line through Archer, crossing the tracks laid decades earlier by Yulee's Florida Railroad. The discovery of phosphate and a subsequent mining boom made the railroads even more vital to the local economy.
Archer continued to prosper on into the 20th Century. In 1905, the Maddox Foundry and Machine works was established, and in a few years it employed a force of 70 men. By the mid 1920s, the city boasted a grits mill, a sawmill, a moss industry, and a naval stores operation. Travelers had a choice of three hotels, and two garages catered to motorists. But improved roads and new trucks cut into the railroad freight business, and in 1932 the last train ran over the historic old Florida Railroad tracks between Archer and Cedar Key.
Archer is fortunate today to have several reminders of its history as an important railroad town. One of its most prominent landmarks is the small frame train station, constructed prior to 1900, that now serves as the Archer Historical Railroad Museum. A historical marker dedicated to David Levy Yulee has been placed in front of the train station, noting Yulee's role as a railroad developer and his local ties to Archer, where his Cotton Wood Plantation was located. Across the street, in front of the Maddox Foundry and Machine Shop, the Baldwin Steam Locomotive, once an iron workhorse of the southern timber industry, is displayed. The engine, built in 1906 in South Carolina, was purchased by Hittup Maddox, the owner of the foundry, in 1928 and restored in 1960.
Gillettes, the Townsends and the Ellises
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