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SFASU

by Archie P. McDonald
Archie McDonald Ph.D.
The East Texas Historical Association has "lived" on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University since its birth in 1971. In fact, the University was the delivering physician because President Ralph W. Steen and history department chairman C.K. Chamberlain were among its founders, and Chamberlain became the Association’s first director and editor of its Journal. The Association is only one of a host of positive things spawned by SFA since its founding in 1923. The legislature first authorized a new "teacher’s college" for East Texas in 1917, but World War I got in the way of funding as well as manpower. The process had to begin anew after the war ended, although A.W. Birdwell, a history professor at Southwest Texas State Teachers College, already had been designated president of the college that not only did not have a campus, he did not know where the campus would be located.

Leaders in a great many communities in East Texas candidated for theirs’ to be the host city. The committee that worked for Nacogdoches was known as The Citizens Committee; it soon became known as the Nacogdoches Booster Club, and still exists, the longest-tenured civic organization in the city.

The committee prepared an illustrated pamphlet for state officials who would decide on the host city of the new school. Its titled promised "Twenty-three Reasons Why The Stephen F. Austin State Normal Ought to be Located at Nacogdoches." Nacogdoches should be the place, said the pamphlet, "Because Nacogdoches is the center of the section to be served...; is the most accessible city...; has 5,000 people in the city and 32,000 in the county who would be proud...; its schools rank among the best in the South...; guarantees 250 children for a training school...; once hosted Nacogdoches University...; has high moral tone...; the jail is empty; is a city of refined homes...; has nine churches...; has a delightfully mild climate...; is a city of good health...; has a well-equipped light and power plant...; the electricity is cheaper...; has a good sewage system...; has pure artesian water...; and three, two-story hotels...; has 22 boarding houses...; has rare natural beauty...; has a progressive business spirit...; has ample entertainment facilities...; offers superior [building] sites...”is "the Cradle of Texas Liberty”..; and, No. 23...Nacogdoches links Old Texas With The New."

Obviously, the Locating Committee was persuaded.


©
Archie P. McDonald
All Things Historical
September 28, 2005 column
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
This column is provided as a public service by the East Texas Historical Association. Archie P. McDonald is director of the Association and author of more than 20 books on Texas.

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