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Nacogdoches ( ) is a city in Nacogdoches Countymarker, Texasmarker, in the United Statesmarker. The 2000 census recorded the city's population to be 29,914, while in 2007 it was estimated to have reached 32,006. It is the county seat of Nacogdoches Countymarker and is situated in East Texas. Nacogdoches is a sister city of Natchitoches, Louisianamarker.

Nacogdoches is the home of Stephen F.marker Austin State Universitymarker and of the Association for Business Communication.

Nacogdoches made international headlines in February 2003, after receiving much of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster debris.

Nacogdoches City Hall



Nacogdoches is located at (31.608855, -94.650862) . Its location is approximately 140 miles NNE of Houston, 130 miles SE of Dallas and 90 miles SW of Shreveport.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 25.3 square miles (65.5 km²), of which, 25.2 square miles (65.3 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (0.24%) is water. The city center is located just to the north of the fork of two creeks, the LaNana and Banita.

Lake Nacogdoches is located ten miles west of the city.


  • On average, the warmest month is August.
  • The highest recorded temperature was 112°F in 2000.
  • The average coolest month is January.
  • The lowest recorded temperature was 3°F in 1989.
  • The most precipitation on average occurs in May.


In 1990 Nacogdoches had a population of 30,872.

As of the census of 2000, there were 29,914 people, 11,220 households, and 5,935 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,185.9 people per square mile (457.8/km²). There were 12,329 housing units at an average density of 488.7/sq mi (188.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 65.98% White, 25.06% African American, 0.34% Native American, 1.13% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 5.84% from other races, and 1.55% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.82% of the population.

There were 11,220 households out of which 25.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.7% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.1% were non-families. 33.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the city the population was spread out with 20.2% under the age of 18, 30.9% from 18 to 24, 22.3% from 25 to 44, 15.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 24 years. For every 100 females there were 87.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $22,700, and the median income for a family was $37,020. Males had a median income of $28,933 versus $22,577 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,546. About 20.9% of families and 32.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 38.4% of those under age 18 and 13.3% of those age 65 or over. However, traditional measures of poverty can be highly misleading when applied to communities with a large proportion of students, such as Nacogdoches.

Early history

The recently renovated historic Nacogdoches rail station

Local promotional literature describes Nacogdoches as "the oldest town in Texasmarker. Evidence of settlement on the same site dates back to 10,000 years ago. It is near or on the site of Nevantin, the primary village of the Nacogdoche tribe of Caddo Indians.

Nacogdoches remained a Caddo Indian settlement until the early 19th century. In 1716 when Spain established a mission there, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de los Nacogdoches. That was the first European construction in the area. The "town" of Nacogdoches got started after the Spaniardsmarker decided that the Frenchmarker were no longer a threat and that maintaining the mission was too costly. So, in 1772 they ordered all settlers in the area to move to San Antoniomarker. Some were eager to escape the wilderness, but others had to be forced from their homes by soldiers.

It was one of the original European settlements in the region, populated by Adaeseños from Fort Los Adaes,though there are older settlements in Texas, such as Port Isabelmarker, at its southernmost tip.

Old Stone Fort in Nacogdoches
Statue of Gil Y'Barbo at Historic Town Center in Nacogdoches

Colonel Antonio Gil Y'Barbo, a prominent Spanish trader, emerged as the leader of the settlers, and in the spring of 1779, he led a group back to Nacogdoches. Later that summer, Nacogdoches received designation from Mexicomarker as a pueblo, or town, thereby making it the first "town" in Texasmarker. Y'Barbo, as lieutenant governor of the new town, established the rules and laws for local government. He laid out streets with the intersecting El Camino Real (now State Highway 21) and La Calle del Norte/North Street (now U.S. Highway 259) as the central point. On the main thoroughfare, he built a stone house for use in his trading business. The house, or Old Stone Fort as it is known today, became a gateway from the United Statesmarker to the vast Texas frontier.

House of Adolph Sterne, the first American mayor of the town, now a museum.

The city has been under more flags than the state of Texas, claiming nine flags. In addition to the Six Flags of Texas, it also flew under these flags: The Magee-Gutierrez Republic, The Long Republic, and The Fredonia Republic.

People from the United States began to settle in Nacogdoches in 1820. It was the center of Hayden Edwards's Fredonia Republic in 1826. It was also the site of the first newspaper published in Texas.

In the Cherokee War of 1830, the tribe was expelled from East Texas. In 1838, Spanish settlers launched an unsuccessful last-ditch attempt to regain control of East Texas in the short-lived Cordova Rebellion. Anglo control was permanently established by 1839. The town is referenced in Cormac McCarthy's novel Blood Meridian, in which the protagonist 'The kid' stays briefly in Nacagdoches in 1849.

Thomas Jefferson Rusk was one of the most prominent early Nacogdoches settlers. A veteran of the Texas Revolution, he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and was secretary of war during the Republic of Texas. He was president of the Texas Statehood Commission. He worked to establish Nacogdoches University, which began in 1845 but later collapsed. Rusk committed suicide on July 29, 1857.

In 1859, the first oil well in Texas began operation here, but it was never so well known as Spindletopmarker, drilled in 1901 near Beaumontmarker.

Recent history

In 1912, the Marx Brothers came to town to perform their singing act at the old Opera House. Their performance was interrupted by a man who came inside shouting, "Runaway mule!" Most of the audience left the building, apparently thinking a runaway mule would provide better entertainment. When they filed back in, Julius (later known as Groucho) began insulting them, saying "Nacogdoches is full of roaches!" and "The jackass is the flower of Tex-ass!" Instead of becoming angry, audience members laughed. Soon afterward, Julius and his brothers decided to try their hand at comedy instead of singing, at which they had barely managed to scrape together a living. A historic plaque commemorating the event is posted in downtown Nacogdoches. Given the location of this formative experience, the Brothers' later decision, during the making of Duck Soup, to name the imaginary country "Freedonia" hardly seems coincidental. In the 8th March 1950 edition of You Bet Your Life Groucho states "I was once pinched in Nacogdoches for playing Euchre on the front porch of a hotel. It happened to be on a Sunday. You're not allowed to play Euchre in Nacogdoches on a Sunday. As a matter of fact, the way I played it they shouldn't have allowed it on Saturday either." Groucho appeared to have a humorous preoccupation with the word Nacogdoches and would often mention it in the show if any contestant came from Texas.

The historic downtown Main Theater has closed.

In 1997, singer Willie Nelson came to Nacogdoches to perform with his friend, Paul Buskirk, a renowned mandolin player. During his stay, Nelson recorded a number of jazz songs at Encore Studios. In 2004, he released those recordings on a CD entitled Nacogdoches.

On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia broke up during re-entry, depositing debris across Texas. Much of the debris landed in Nacogdoches, and much of the media coverage of the disaster focused on Nacogdoches.

On September 24, 2005, Hurricane Rita struck Nacogdoches as a Category 1 hurricane[20355][20356][20357]. Nacogdoches experienced the same problems Houstonmarker was having because of the unprecedented number of people evacuating the Houston-Galveston area. The city's local shelters were already overwhelmed with evacuees that had come from New Orleansmarker because of Hurricane Katrina. Long lines at gas stations, shortages of supplies, food and fuel were widespread. Many Houstonians took the Eastex Freeway (U.S. Highway 59) out of Houston to evacuate through East Texas. Travel times between Nacogdoches and Houston were reported taking about 24–36 hours, when normal travel time is about 2 hours. As a result of Hurricane Rita, U.S. Highway 59 has been designated as an evacuation route by TXDOT, with all of it lanes to be used for contraflow traffic. Nacogdoches was designated as the north end terminus of the contraflow/evacuation route.[20358]

On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike struck Nacogdoches as a Category 1 hurricane.

Nacogdoches hosts the [20359] Texas Blueberry Festival the second Saturday in June. The county is the top blueberry producer in Texas and is headquarters for the Texas Blueberry Marketing Association. The city recently tagged itself as the "Capital of the Texas Forest Country". The community is one of the first Texas Certified Retirement Communities.

Once a Democratic stronghold, Nacogdoches has in recent years moved steadily toward the Republican Party, being represented in the United States Congress and the Texas State Legislature by Republicans.

Famous residents past and present

  • Michael Arlen Boyett, nationally known sculptor of American historic art, makes his home in Nacogdoches and is the creator of "The Treaty," [20360]a historic bronze sculpture of General Sam Houston and Cherokee Chief Bowles - it is located in the Stern Hoya Park in downtown Nacogdoches. [20361]

  • William Goyens (1794-1856) was a free black slaveowner from North Carolinamarker who settled in Nacogdoches. He was the envoy between Sam Houston and the Cherokee tribe during the Texas Revolution and was credited with having kept the Indians from becoming involved in the fighting against the Mexicans.

  • Accomplished author Joe R. Lansdale lives in Nacogdoches and teaches creative writing courses at Stephen F. Austin State University.

  • Accomplished archaeologist and noted 80's television star Sky Howard was born in Nacodoches on August 20, 1960.

  • Joseph W. Kennedy, a co-discoverer of plutonium, attended Stephen F. Austin University, when it was Austin State Teachers College.

  • Deidrich Anton Wilhelm Rulfs (1848-1926) was an architect who designed much of Nacogdoches during the latter two decades of the 19th century, including some fifty stately houses, public buildings, and even the Zion Hill Church, the first African American church in the region. He came to Nacogdoches in 1880 from Germanymarker.

  • Comedian Willie P. Richardson, known as "The Phone Prankster," was born in Nacogdoches. His G-Rated comedy albums have sold more than one million copies and he is heard on XMSirius Satellite Radio, as well as on thousands of commercial radio stations nationally.

  • Big Band leader Tom Houston resides in Nacogdoches. Dr. Houston was a faculty member at Stephen F. Austin State University for 41 years. Albums include "Pipe Dreams" and "Tuxedo Country."

  • Grand Ole Opry Star Bob Luman was born in Nacogdoches County. Hit records include; "Let's Think About Livin'," "When You Say Love," & "Lonely Women Make Good Lovers."

  • Don Henley, singer of The Eagles, attended SFASU, but did not graduate.


The City of Nacogdoches is served by the Nacogdoches Independent School District - Home of the Golden Dragons.

Nacogdoches is home to Stephen F.marker Austin State Universitymarker, which is a state institution of about 13,000 students, and is one of the leading forestry schools in the world. Angelina College (based in neighboring Lufkinmarker) operates a branch campus in Nacogdoches.


Nacogdoches is served by the The Daily Sentinel, a Cox Newspaper property.

Points of interest


  1. Annual census figures for Nacogdoches county
  2. The Columbia Gazeteer of the United States and Canada. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995) p. 430
  3. Bolton, Herbet E. The Hasinais: Southern Caddoans As Seen by the Earliest Europeans. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0806134413.
  4. Nacogdoche Indian Tribe History. Access Genealogy. (retrieved 12 Sept 2009)
  5. Los Adaes
  6. Nacogdoches - Oldest Town in Texas
  7. The Cambridge Gazeteer of the United States and Canada. p. 430
  8. History Exhibit, Nacogdoches Visitors Bureau, Nacogdoches, Texas
  9. Cambridge Gazeteer. p. 430
  10. The Space Shuttle Columbia - Dan Bruton
  11. History exhibits, Nacogdoches Visitors Bureau, Nacogdoches, Texas
15. Michael Boyett Sculptures - [20362]

Cultural references

  • Mentioned in the song Tom Ames' Prayer by Steve Earle.
  • Briefly mentioned in the song Lake Charles by Lucinda Williams.
  • A key plot point of the movie Bubba Ho-Tep involves Elvis switching lives with an impersonator who happens to live in Nacogdoches. The movie is based on a short story written by Texan author Joe R. Lansdale, who lives in Nacogdoches.
  • John Wayne mentions Nacogdoches in the Western movie, Big Jake, when ending a fight he picks with the biggest man in the room, as a diversion, with the question "Hold it friend! Have you ever been to Nacogdoches?" Answer, "No....". Wayne, "Strange...." "Big Man, "But I ain't ever been to Nacogdoches!" Big Jake's son, "Dammit Mister, I believe you!".
  • Referenced in a few episodes of the T.V. show King of the Hill , one of the cities Bobby Hill was going to escape to via a bus after accidentally setting fire to the church.
  • Mentioned in the song "What I like About Texas" by Jerry Jeff Walker
  • Mentioned in the song "Rock and Roll Doctor" by Little Feat
  • John Wayne mentions Nacogdoches in the movie "The Alamo" when telling one of his men that they "can't find new clothes this side of Nacogdoches!".
  • Mentioned in the movie "Charlie Wilson's War"
  • Subject of the song "Buenas Noches From Nacogdoches" from Rich Mullins' musical Canticle of the Plains.
  • Where "the kid" meets Judge Holden in Cormac McCarthy's novel Blood Meridian.

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