B. F. ARCHER, M. D. In a history of the early settlers of Western Texas there is perhaps none more worthy of mention that Dr. Benjamin Franklin Archer, who in the practice of his profession has rendered signal and valuable service to his fellowmen. The first home of the Archer family was in Virginia, where its representatives were prominent in public affairs. Many of them were in the colonial army during the Revolutionary war. William Archer, the father of Dr. Archer, was closely connected with Dr. Branch T. Archer, who figured prominently in Texas history, having been closely associated with the formation of the government and of the Republic of Texas. William Archer was a native of Virginia and became a minister of the Missionary Baptist church, devoting much of his time to preaching the gospel, and by trade he was a millwright and followed that pursuit in order to provide a living for his family but engaged in preaching on Sundays and other occasions. In 1849 he removed to Mississippi, settling in Itawamba county, where he spent his remaining days. His wife bore the maiden name of Nancy Smith, and was a daughter of Ali Smith, one of the pioneer settlers of eastern Tennessee. She died two years prior to the death of her husband, which occurred in 1884. In their family were twelve children, of whom four sons and six daughters reached years of maturity. The eldest son, Alexander, was a captain in the army. George W. Archer, the youngest son, was a Christian minister and made his home in Baldwin, Mississippi.
Dr. B. F. Archer, whose name introduces this record, is the only son of the family now living. He was born in Hamilton county, Tennessee, April 19, 1834, and obtained his early education in the country schools. In 1856 he took up the study of medicine under the direction of Dr. Long, of Baldwin, Mississippi, and in the winter of 1857-8 he attended the Memphis Medical College, at Memphis, Tennessee, while in 1860-61 he pursued his second course of lectures in the University of Louisiana, at New Orleans, being graduated from the latter institution on the 20th of March, 1861. He was in New Orleans when the state voted for secession. His patriotic nature being aroused in behalf of the Confederacy, he immediately returned to his home in Baldwin, Mississippi, and enlisted in the Thirty-second Mississippi Regiment commanded by Colonel M. P. Lowrey, a Baptist minister who was known as the “fighting preacher.” Dr. Archer was immediately appointed assistant surgeon of the regiment and acted in that capacity till after the retreat of the army from Corinth, when, the surgeon having resigned, Dr. Archer was appointed to the vacancy and thus continued until the latter part of 1863, when he was attacked by a hemorrhage of the lungs and was retired from field service. During the remainder of the war he was stationed at various places, sometimes in hospitals and again in the field service as he was needed. Following the close of hostilities he returned to his old home in Lafayette county, Mississippi, settling in the village of Taylor about eight miles south of Oxford on what was then known as the Mississippi Central Railroad. He devoted his entire time to his profession until 1872.
In the winter of 1872 there occurred a vacancy in the Mississippi state legislature and the Democratic convention that was convened without his knowledge or consent nominated him for office. When the news of the nomination was taken to him he entered the canvass, for thirty days devoting his time to campaign work in the county and won the election by a majority of one hundred and three. Again in 1873 he was nominated for the position and on his occasion was elected by a majority of two hundred and sixty votes. The county had a strong Republican majority and the fact of Dr. Archer’s election is an indication of his personal popularity and the confidence that was reposed in him by his fellowmen. During the three years in which he was a member of the general assembly he served in three regular and three called sessions of the legislature and was connected with important constructive measures, but he became so disgusted with the methods employed in political circles that he has never since allowed his name to go before a convention.
Returning to his home Dr. Archer resumed the active practice of medicine, in which he continued until 1880, when he sold out and returned to the old homestead in Baldwin, Mississippi, to take care of his father and mother in their declining years.
Following their death in March, 1886, he removed to Sweetwater, Texas, and was actively engaged in the practice of medicine and surgery at this place from that date until July, 1894. He then removed to Dublin, Erath county, Texas, where he practiced medicine until 1902, when he again came to Sweetwater, since which time he has devoted his attention between his professional service and farming.
In 1897 he pursued a post-graduate course in medicine and surgery in the Polyclinic college of Chicago. During all of his experience in the practice of surgery he has been most successful, never losing an important case. He has intimate knowledge of anatomy and component parts of the human body, which, combined with a delicacy of touch and keen mental perception, makes him one of the most capable surgeons practicing in Western Texas.
Dr. Archer has been married three times. He first wedded Miss Prudence Oliver, of Marietta, Mississippi, on the 20th of December, 1855. She died February 12, 1857, and in March, 1864, he wedded Miss Johanna B. Boone, who passed away in September, 1884. On the 13th of November, 1887, he was married to Miss M. E. Dodd, a native of Texas. He has never had any children.
Dr. Archer has spent his entire life on the frontier, living in Mississippi soon after the Indians were driven from the state and later coming to Western Texas soon after the red men were driven out of this region. He has ever been recognized as an upright citizen, doing his full duty as a soldier and civilian. As a physician he has enjoyed a large practice and in his younger days met many personal hardships and sacrifices in rendering professional aid to the afflicted. Many times has he given his services when he knew there would be no pecuniary reward and in cases of dire distress he has fed the hungry from his own private means or supplied other necessities of life. His extensive practice has covered a period of about fifty years, and he made collections of all that was due him he would now be in possession of a large fortune, but his kindness and generosity have led him to give his services on many occasions and to look for the benefit of his fellowmen rather than for private gain. His life has indeed been animated by a spirit of helpfulness and kindliness and in his life he has exemplified his faith as a member of the Christian church and his loyalty to the teachings of the Masonic fraternity with which he has affiliated for the past forty-two years, having been made a Mason in Bay Springs, Tishomingo county, Mississippi, in 1863.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 389-390.