SFA Story: The History of Stephen F. Austin State University

The Founding Years

The Selection Committee Visits Nacogdoches

Daily Sentinel , July 12, 1917

"Normal Committee Here This Morning"

"Local citizens Entertained the Visitors, Showed Them Town and Proposed Sites"

"The long-looked-for day arrived with early dawn this morning and was ushered in with the ringing of the telephones, fire alarm, and a concert by the Nacogdoches Concert Band, all of which caused the inhabitants to bestir themselves and get the daily routine of business and industry in operation somewhat earlier than usual.

"The visitors came direct from Beaumont, passing up all places on the line. They are making their trip in private [rail] cars which were set out here, and they were not disturbed until 5:00 o’clock, when a committee of citizens appointed for the purpose, and the Nacogdoches concert Band met them at the train and escorted them to the Banita Hotel where a very fine breakfast was served to them and the committee at 6:00 o’clock.

"After breakfast . . . R. F. Davis addressed the visitors . . . . Immediately following this address, the visitors were loaded into automobiles and taken for a ride to several parts of the city, in the course of which they were shown our public school buildings, the old Stone Fort, [etc.]. . . . After the general inspection of the town, the visitors were taken to the north-end site from which they doubled back to the south-end site, and so far as the local committee could ascertain they were charmed with both sites, with some preference for the north . . . .

"After the inspection of the sites, the visitors . . . resumed their journey, leaving for Timpson . . . .The visiting committee was . . . a party of very pleasant, distinguished gentlemen, and our people who had the opportunity of meeting them greatly enjoyed their visit in a social way as well as the mission which brought them to us. They are men in whom we can rest our claims with a feeling of security that we will receive a fair and square deal and the consideration to which we are entitled."

Eye Witnesses Remember

In 1971, R. W. McKinney, well-known Nacogdoches businessman, recalled: "That day [in 1917] we opened the stores at 7 o'clock to make the town look prosperous. . . .There were gaps in the paving on Main Street, and we pushed cars around so the spaces would all be covered. I know, because I did some of the pushing." Another man on the scene, one of 30 members of the newly-organized Nacogdoches Booster Club, was Robert Monk. Monk said he knew why there were so many cars in town. "Everybody in the country had brought his car here that day, and they were all backed up facing the committee when they went through town. That was just a welcoming gesture - just trying to welcome them and to show them that we were really interested." [Bettye Craddock, The Golden Years, p. 7.] The Daily Sentinel on July 12, 1917, confirms these accounts. Garrison businessmen, in a jesture of support for the county, closed their businesses and came to Nacogdoches to show "cooperation and sympathy with us in our effort to capture the Stephen F. Austin Normal."