The French never actually settled in East Texas, but French intrusions into the area eventually forced the Spanish to establish permanent settlements in East Texas. Although the precise route is uncertain, La Salle and his men, on their ill-fated attempt to reach the Mississippi from their settlement on the Texas coast, must have come through East Texas. A more potent French presence came in the form of St. Denis. Operating out of a French post near Natchitoches, Louisiana, St. Denis made two major trips (1714, 1717) through East Texas and into Mexico proper. These trips, plus French trading in the area precipitated the establishment of permanent Spanish missions and presidios in East Texas in 1721-1722.
After several unsuccessful attempts during the early 1700s, the Spanish in 1721 were finally successful in establishing a series of six missions and two presidios in East Texas. One of these missions - Nuestra Senora de Guadelupe de los Nacogdoches - was located in the vicinity of present day Nacogdoches. After the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the Spanish decided to abandon East Texas. In 1773, most of the Spanish inhabitants, under the leadership of Antonio Gil Y'Barbo moved back to San Antonio. Upon their arrival, they became unhappy and were granted permission to settle on the Trinity River. This settlement was only temporary. After a devastating flood and Indian raid, Y'Barbo gathered 300 survivors and, in 1779, led them back to Nacogdoches. Y'Barbo then laid out Nacogdoches as a Spanish town with two squares - one for government and one for church. The government square, bordered by Main Street and Fredonia, was dominated by a stone house, later known as the Old Stone Fort, built by Y'Barbo as the official portales (gateway) to the Spanish district of Nacogdoches. This building was headquarters for several unsuccessful attempts to establish a Republic in Texas.
In 1812, the Old Stone Fort served as the headquarters during the first attempt to create a Texas Republic. Augustus Magee, a former lieutenant in the U.S. Army, joined forces with Bernardo Gutierrez and attempted to take Texas. The men recruited 3,000 men to their cause and printed the first newspaper in Texas, called "Gaceta de Tejas," to gather support for their cause. Some major battles were fought with Mexican forces, but the group was defeated. Texas was declared a province of Mexico, which by this time had declared its independence from Spain.
Dr. James Long (1819-1821)
Many assumed that Texas had been included in the Louisiana Purchase. Because of this, in 1819, Dr. James Long of Natchez, Mississippi, led an expedition to claim Texas for the United States. Long made his headquarters at the Old Stone Fort, but his group was wiped out while he was on Galveston Island trying to obtain the assistance of the famous pirate and privateer, Jean Lafitte. Long also made a second attempt to claim Texas for the U.S., however it met with no success.
The next flag to fly over the Stone Fort was the Mexican flag. Mexico formally gained its independence from Spain in August of 1821. The Mexican years date from 1821 to 1836; during this period Nacogdoches grew in size and character. Immigration from the southern U.S. caused a shift to Anglo culture in Nacogdoches. Texas and Coahuila were organized as one state within the Mexican Confederation.
Fredonia Rebellion (1826-1827)
The third attempt at independence from Mexico was known as the Fredonia Rebellion led by Haden Edwards. Mexico gave Edwards a contract to settle 800 families in the Nacogdoches area. When he arrived in Nacogdoches, he found that the land was already settled by Indians and Mexican descendants who had been there several generations. Edwards gathered his men in the Stone Fort and declared themselves Fredonians (freedom seekers) when a dispute developed. Once again, the rebellion failed and Edwards' men scattered. Texas Colonization became so popular with the Anglos that in 1830 Mexico reversed its position and barred further immigration. This action led the way to the "Battle of Nacogdoches." What is said to have been the opening gun of the Texas Revolution took place in August of 1832. As 500 citizens advanced on the town held by 500 Mexican soldiers, the Mexicans were driven out of the Stone Fort. When they were pushed back to the Angelina River, they surrendered.
Lone Star (1823-1846)
The Battle of Nacogdoches freed the areas east and north of San Antonio of all Mexican troops; this allowed Texas the ultimate Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. Even after Nacogdoches won its battle, the residents continued to fight for Texas' freedom. Adolphus Sterne, a prominent landowner, raised $10,000 to outfit a company of volunteers who would participate in the battle of San Antonio. Thomas J. Rusk was Secretary of War under the interim government and took command of the army at San Jacinto when Sam Houston was wounded. He also served as U.S. Senator when Texas became a state.
Confederate Stars & Bars (1861-1865)
After the revolution, settlement of Texas swept through Nacogdoches to the west. Nacogdoches prospered raising cotton and tobacco, producing timber and advancing slowly while keeping its status as a cultural, educational and religious center.
United States of America (Since 1846)
On Oct. 13, 1845, Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a United States annexation proposal. In December, President James K. Polk signed the Joint Resolution for the Admission of the State of Texas into the Union making Texas the 28th state.