Nacogdoches: Fun To Say, Great to Visit, and a Colorful Piece of Texas’ Past

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It’s the oldest town in Texas, and local promotional literature from the town’s Convention & Visitors Bureau describes it as such. It’s Nacogdoches, Texas, and the reason it proudly states this – and the reason you should be making a visit – is evidenced by settlement artifacts and details dating back 10,000 years ago, on the site of Nevantin, which has been recognized as the primary village of the Nacogdoche tribe of Caddo Indians.

Nacogdoches: Fun To Say, Great to Visit, And A Colorful Piece of Texas’ Past

Photo: Facebook/Texas Forest Trail Region

Until the early 19th Century, Nacogdoches remained a Caddo Indian settlement, the first European construction to take place in the area was the Spanish-established mission called Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de los Nacogdoches, and the town itself wouldn’t first get its official start until after the French had left the region following the French and Indian War, and the Spanish determined it was too expensive to maintain the mission. In 1772, the Spaniards ordered all settlers in the vicinity to move to San Antonio. Some were eager to go, but others weren’t so willing and had been made to go by force. Resulting from this, Colonel Antonio Gil Y’Barbo, a prominent Spanish trader, lead the disgruntled settlers back to Nacogdoches in the spring of 1779, and following that, the town received designation from Spain as a pueblo (making it official) and making it the first “town” in Texas.

Nacogdoches: Fun To Say, Great to Visit, And A Colorful Piece of Texas’ Past

Photo: Facebook/Texas Back Roads

Y’Barbo became lieutenant governor of Nacogdoches and established the first rules and laws for society and the local government. He determined where the original streets would be, including the central point of town being the intersection of El Camino Real (now State Highway 21) and La Calle del Norte/North Street (now US Highway 59-F). And along the main street he constructed a stone house for his own use in trading, which still stands today (called Old Stone Fort) and at one point was recognized as the gateway from the U.S. into the Texas frontier.

Nacogdoches: Fun To Say, Great to Visit, And A Colorful Piece of Texas’ Past

Photo: Facebook/KTRE-TV

Nacogdoches has served under more flags than the entire Lone Star State has, claiming three more flags in addition to the six of Texas, which were the Magee-Gutierrez Republic, the Long Republic, and the Fredonian Rebellion. Populace from the U.S. began to settle in Nacogdoches in 1820, and the first English-language newspaper of Texas was published there (although the first Spanish newspaper published there was in the 1700’s and this is the one that is preserved at the local museum.) In 1832, a pivotal point in time for the town, the battle of Nacogdoches saw the formation of local settlers into a militia that united against the Mexican military in a stand to support a federalist form of government, and their success in the battle drove their foes out of east Texas completely.

Nacogdoches: Fun To Say, Great to Visit, And A Colorful Piece of Texas’ Past

Photo: Facebook/The History of Texas

One of the more prominent early Nacogdoches Anglo settlers was Thomas Jefferson Rusk, a Texas Revolution veteran and hero of San Jacinto. Rusk signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and had been secretary of war during the time of the Republic of Texas. He was also president of the Texas Statehood Commission and he would go on to serve as one of the first two Texas U.S. Senators together with Sam Houston. He made it his work to establish Nacogdoches University, operating from 1845 to 1895, the main building of which has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places. And Sam Houston himself lived in Nacogdoches for four years before the Texas Revolution and operated a law office downtown. But among the real who’s-who, Adolphus Sterne (a German Jewish merchant) maintained the finest home in Nacogdoches, which was frequently visited by such famed people as Sam Houston, Thomas Rusk, David Crockett and many more, and who’s personal diary is today one of the best sources for early town history.

Nacogdoches: Fun To Say, Great to Visit, And A Colorful Piece of Texas’ Past

Photo: Facebook/Stephen F. Austin State University

Present day Nacogdoches hosts the Texas Blueberry Festival annually on the second Saturday in June, and the county is considered the top blueberry producer in the Lone Star State. It’s population consists of a little over 30,000 “Nacogdochians” who are proud of their part of Texas history and welcoming to visitors interested in learning the same. If you make the trip to the “oldest town in Texas” you might learn a thing or two about your state you never knew before, but not to worry. Y’Barbo didn’t know it when he started the town, and neither did Rusk, Houston or Crockett when they lived there. But Nacogdoches was, and still remains a colorful piece of Texas’ past, and a flourishing component of its present.