Mark Twain Owned a Ranch in Archer City

With the Mayborn writing conference only a few days away, several big-name national writers are flying in and some local writers are gearing up for immersion. One component of the annual conference is a week-long narrative nonfiction writing class held at the Spur Hotel in Archer City. (I attended in 2005 and 2006.) With that in mind, George Getschow, the conference director and the man who teaches that Archer City class, sent me this paper, submitted by someone named Barbara Schmidt nearly a decade ago to the Fifth International Conference On the State of Mark Twain Studies.

Apparently Larry McMurtry isn’t the most famous author to have ever owned property in Archer. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) owned 320 acres of land not far from the town square, just off what is now Highway 25. He never visited the land. Indeed, he never stepped foot in Texas. (He did help raise money for the victim’s of the Galveston hurricane though.) It looks like he only bought the land in an attempt to help a distant relative of his wife’s.

Now, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Archer City. (You can read about some of that time here.) And Getschow is out there every year, and talks with McMurtry regularly. In all the talk with the book store zealots, the local literati, and all the homegrown historians, this has never come up. (The academic paper mentions the fact that nobody in town talks about the Twain property, though it’s still noted in the occasional court record.)

It just goes to show: Archer City never stops producing interesting stories.


  • Bill Marvel

    “Indeed, he never stepped foot in Texas.”
    Still,it’s nice to think of Mr. Twain, wearing his white summer suit, sitting on the bench in front of the Spur, nodding to locals, occasionally doffing his hat to one of the ladies. And there’s the ragged little urchin, from a ranch out south of town. Rides into town on a buckboard with his Pa. Always makes a beeline for the Spur, just to catch a peek at the writer feller from the East. Shyly says he wants to be a writer, too, when he grows up. Then his Pa comes and fetches him and drags him off to the sales barn. There’s work to be done. These cattle won’t load themselves.