Jack Loftin: A Red River Remarkable
This home-made marker, erected by the Archer and Young County historical societies, commemorates Rock Station (which never existed)
along the
Butterfield Overland Stagecoach trail. It also alludes to the Warren Wagon Train Massacre, the prelude to the Red River Wars.
One bright, sunny, and very hot day, I traversed the Texas portion of US 82 into Archer County from Wichita County, on my way to some
ghost towns (Dundee and Mankins). I had to make a double take, though, when I caught sight of a beautiful, hand-carved stone marker that
commemorated the "Buffalo Road" that apparently was once US 82. Of course, I took a photograph and, for a very long time afterwards,
wondered how this epitaph came into being - how old was it? Who decided to place it there? Was its information reliable?

And thus, a long, haphazard journey of information gathering began. It was long because I didn't spend a whole lot of time on it, and it was
haphazard because most of what I discovered about the markers came from random encounters. Once I did learn about the markers,
however, I came to appreciate the man behind them all the more.

Jack Loftin, the remarkable man who wrote, created, and repaired the stone monuments, proved to be a true history machine. Though now
regrettably deceased (
he passed away in 2015), his legacy lives on substantially, not just in Archer County's stone marker program but also
in the contributions he made through the Archer County Museum, Archer County historical Society, and as author of the book, "
through Archer." In this well-researched tome, he extensively documented the history of this incredibly interesting county that lay on the
Texas "frontier" in the period after the Civil War.

Loftin was a north Texas prairie man through and through. He was born in Young County but grew up on his parents' ranch in Archer
County. His family was one of the original landowners in this part of Texas. In the 1950s, he served the US in the Korean War and also
studied mechanical engineering at Texas Tech in Lubbock. He was a fossil collector and archaeology enthusiast, and he created extensive
maps that cataloged the history, flora, and fauna of his beloved home. His influence extended beyond Archer County's boundaries, too -
he assisted Young, Jack, and Wichita counties in their history-fact-finding-missions as well.

If you decide to traverse Archer County (as well as parts of Jack, Young, and Wichita counties) and you keep your eyes open while doing
so, you will discover dozens of these stone monuments, all placed in the location where history was actually made.

The beauty of Jack Loftin's legacy lies in discovering that there are many other dedicated women and men inside local historical and
genealogical societies that freely share their time, knowledge, and resources. People like Loftin are unique, and yet their generosity can
be witnessed in many different places. Hats off to you, Mr. Loftin!
Once I found this marker along the old alignment of US 82, I had to learn
more about the person who made it. The folks at Fort Richardson (Jack
county) were exteremely helpful in this endeavor.
North Star School, 1898-1943 (north of Scotland along US 281
in Archer County)
stone marker.
The Rock Station marker's foundation attests to the
collaboration between Archer and Young county historical
societies. Both share
frontier histories.
This 1977 article in the Archer County News explains the marker placement and the history of Sheriff Ikard's sad demise in the 1920s.
The former Archer County Jail is today's Archer County
Museum. Loftin helped to catalog, research, and preserve many
artifacts here.
In the 19th century, stone markers like these were used on postal roads to
guide travelers to their destinations in Young and Archer counties. Their
existence makes me wonder if they served as inspiration for Jack Loftin's
stone monument program.
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com