“… Nacogdoches has a soul, a spirit, an atmosphere. She is no raw product of today or yesterday. There are ghosts on her streets. … The spirit of Nacogdoches today is a gift from the men of the past; the spirit of the future will be the gift of the men of today.”
Karle Wilson, 1906
Nacogdoches, known as the Oldest Town in Texas, has a rich history.
The Caddo came to East Texas around 800 A.D. They were the most advanced Native American tribe in Texas, and at the height of their mound-building culture - around 1200 A.D. - the Caddo numbered 250,000 people.
Nacogdoches was primarily a Caddo settlement until 1716, when Spain established the Mission Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de los Nacogdoches, the first European construction in the area. This and other missions in the area were eventually abandoned because of trouble with French settlements to the East. After France ceded claims to lands west of the Mississippi River to Spain in 1763, the Mexican government ordered all East Texas settlers to move to San Antonio.
In 1779, Antonio Gil Y’Barbo, a prominent Spanish trader, got permission to lead a group of settlers back to Nacogdoches. He established a local government, laid out streets with the intersecting El Camino Real and El Calle del Norte as his central point, and built a stone house for use in his trading business. The house, known as the Old Stone Fort today, became a gateway from the United States to the vast Texas frontier. Later that summer, Spain designated Nacogdoches as a pueblo, making it the first “town” in Texas.
Throughout its history, Nacogdoches has flown nine flags to represent the countries that staked claims and the movements to establish a Republic of Texas.
Nacogdoches was primarily a farming community until the Houston, East & West Texas Railroad arrived in 1883, transforming the town into an industrial center. In 1923, the Texas legislature created Stephen F. Austin State Teachers College in Nacogdoches. The school was designated Stephen F. Austin State University in 1968.