The Archer Gang
And Wolfington-Jackman Cemetery

Wolfington – Jackman Cemetery is most noted because of its connection with the Thomas G. Archer gang. The Archer gang made their headquarters in Lost River Township, Martin County, next to the Orange County Line. The gang was made up of family members Thomas Archer, his sons Sam and John, brother Martin, nephew Martin Jr., cousin Sam Marley, nephew Kinder Smith, and in-laws John Lynch and Sam Bunch.

 Martin, Marley and Bunch were in charge of stealing timber. The rest of the gang devoted their time to robbing banks, stagecoaches, or whatever could be looted in the mid-west. Cole Younger reported, while serving time in prison, that Tom Archer was with him and Frank and Jesse James in Russelville, Kentucky in 1868 and St. Genevieve, Missouri in 1873 when they robbed banks in those towns.

 Strange as it may seem, the Archers had a great respect for religion. Every Sunday they attended church. As it turned out, family differences lead to their downfall. Over the division of loot, Sam Bunch was murdered. Tom, Martin, and John Archer were arrested for the murder, and were confined to the jail in Shoals, Indiana. Vigilantes broke them out of jail and hung them on the courthouse lawn in Shoals. Tom Archer’s last words were, “You are hanging an innocent man”. This turned out to be true. It was learned later that he was not present when Sam Bunch was killed.

 Sam Archer, who had gotten away, was apprehended, brought to trial, found guilty, and sentenced to hang. It is believed that he was the last to be executed by hanging in Indiana. Area churches joined together in demanding that Sam Archer not be buried in a local cemetery. He was instead buried in this cemetery with no marker.

 Stories of the Archer gang have been told and retold many times over the years, and are still repeated in southern Indiana. For years after the hanging at Shoals, some people who lived near Outlaw Cave swore that they heard the squeak of leather and the jingle of  bridles as men on horseback went riding by in the darkness of a cold March night.      Story compiled by Delbert Himsel from newspaper stories and articles collected by former Dubois County historian Lillian Doane.    

This cemetery was restored July 14, 1997 by Delbert Himsel of Ireland, Wayne Lytle, Edwin and Margie Schneider of Jasper, Tony Shipman and Kenneth Stackhouse of French Lick.

The restoration was a result of perseverence on the part of Margie Schneider of Jasper, whose grandmother, Dessie Royer is buried in this cemetery. The following is taken from her letter to the editor of the Springs Valley Herald, published Thursday October 22, 1998. 

"Approximately 20 years ago, I took my mother, now deceased, to West Baden in an attempt to find her mother's grave. My mother was Mayme Dimple Royer Schnarr, whose mother was Dessie Ables Royer. She showed us the general vicinity where the grave was - it was overgrown with weeds, briars, some stones were on the ground, tumbled by time, vandalism, and weather. It was in an unkempt condition. At that time I placed an article in the local paper trying to get someone to mow it. I received a phone call from a very upset resident who said the relatives of most of the people were dead or too old to keep it up. I let it pass until three years ago when I approached Wayne Lytle, a member of the Shiloh Men's Association. Most of the members are restore cemeteries as a hobby.

I did a lot of research and found out it was the Wolfington-Jackman Cemetery and was unknowingly owned by the Methodist Church of West Baden, a small congregation with older members. It is a historical site - the notorious Archer Gang was buried there at one time and at least one remains near the twin cedars."

Her story continues to state that she further discussed her issue with Delbert Himsel of Ireland who agreed to repair the stones if materials were furnished, and the cemetery could be mowed at least once each month. Her goal was reached July 14, 1997 when the restoration was completed. Today Wolfington-Jackman Cemetery is neatly mown and well kept. Markers now exist for members of the Archer family buried there, and others.