Texas' oldest town is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state. People come to Nacogdoches to discover the city's historic past, research their ancestors and to enjoy the slow-paced and relaxing atmosphere.
A local legend says the Caddo Indians founded of Nacogdoches. It is said that an old Caddo chief who lived near the Sabine River had twin sons. One son had dark hair and dark skin and the other had blond hair and light skin. When the sons grew to manhood and were ready to become leaders of their own tribes, the father sent one brother three days eastward toward the rising sun. The other brother was sent three days westward toward the setting sun. The twin who settled three days toward the setting sun was the blond-haired brother, Nacogdoches. Natchitoches, the dark-haired twin, settled three days to the east in Louisiana. The two brothers remained friendly and the road between the two communities was well traveled. This road became a trade route and the eastern end of the El Camino Real or Old San Antonio Road.
Around 1700, the Spanish began establishing missions in and around Nacogdoches. The purpose of the missions was to have a presence in the area and to bring Christianity to Native Americans. However, these first attempts were abandoned because of trouble with the French whose settlement was a short distance to the east. After the region was ceded to Spain in 1762, the Mexican government ordered all settlers in East Texas to move to San Antonio. The settlers were unhappy with this decision and complained. As a result, they were allowed to stop at a site on the Trinity River near present day Houston. The group was later attacked by Comanche Indians and forced out of the area.
In 1779, Gil Y'Barbo gained permission to lead a group back to East Texas. Y'Barbo returned to Nacogdoches with a group of settlers and established a local government. He built a stone house, known today as the Old Stone Fort, to serve as seat of local government. The original structure was located on the corner of Fredonia and Main streets. A replica of the building is located on the Stephen F. Austin State University campus and serves as a museum. 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 Barnardo Guitierrez 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.