City's Statue Collection Tells the Texas Story




Those who came to Texas first probably came through Nacogdoches. The oldest city in Texas has even been called “The Gateway to Texas.” They came via the fabled El Camino Real, or King’s Highway, a well-trodden dirt road that ran from Natchitoches, LA, to deep inside Mexico. Nacogdoches was a welcome stop along the way.

For this reason, Nacogdoches’ history is full of stories of individuals who followed their dreams in ways that resulted in the vibrant Lone Star State we know it to be today.

To commemorate important individuals and their roles in the development of the state, a series of eight statues await visitors to the historic city today. These visual representations of people who had traversed that way in the past make up what the city calls its Nacogdoches Statue Trail.

Erected at various locations within the city, each one is the work of an accomplished sculptor. The Nacogdoches Statue Trail provides visitors and townspeople alike with an understanding of some of the people and events that have played central roles in the city’s history.

A map and more information on the Statue Trail is available at the Charles Bright Visitor Center in downtown or at www.fohninc.weebly.com/statue-walk.html.

Here is a description of the statues on the trail:

The Sam Houston & Chief Bowl (Duwali) Statue (a.k.a. The Treaty)

This statue is located on the south side of Main Street just east of the square. On February 23, 1836, Sam Houston (1793-1863) and Cherokee Chief Bowl (ca. 1756-1839) signed a treaty granting land rights to Native Americans in East Texas. However, the Republic of Texas refused to honor the treaty in 1837 and war broke out between the Texans and local tribes.

The Antonio Gil Y'Barbo Statue

This statue is located on the east side of the visitors center in the downtown square. Y'Barbo (1729-1809) served as the Spanish militia commander and later established a home along the Attoyac where he lived at the time of his death. 

The Thomas J. Rusk Statue

This 1999 statue is located on the northeast corner of Main and North/South streets. Rusk (1803-1857) served in the Texas Army during the Revolution, served in the Republic's government, and then represented Texas in the U.S. Senate until his death. He and his wife were buried in Oak Grove Cemetery. 

The Country Doctor Statue

This statue is located on the east side of Mound Street, and(appropriately) just north of the Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital. This statue honors the doctors who served the Nacogdoches community between the years 1835 and 1940. The Country Doctor represents the old-time doctors who worked to help the public night and day with house calls. The Country Doctor was made in the likeness of Dr. George F. Middlebrook Sr., who served as a physician beginning in 1911, but the statue does not specifically bear his name.

The Karle Wilson Baker Statue

This statue honors a woman who lived in Nacogdoches from 1900 to her death in 1960. She was a respected author and teacher at Stephen F. Austin University (SFA) who wrote in poem and prose about the beauty of East Texas nature. Baker wrote several books including The Birds of Tanglewood and children’s book Garden of the Plynck. As a poet, her works were published in the Yale Review and in several magazines. She received more honors than any 20th century female poet in Texas. She was the first female named a Fellow of the Texas Institute of Letters. Also, recognition of the outstanding quality of her works was realized with a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry nomination for her collection of poetry Dreamers on Horseback. In addition, the Southern Methodist University awarded her with an honorary Doctorate of Letters.

The Diedrich Rulfs Statue

Rulfs (1848-1926) was a prominent architect who changed the landscape of the community with his commercial buildings and private residences. More than 40 Rulfs structures are still standing in Nacogdoches, including Zion Hill First Baptist Church and many downtown buildings. He was commissioned to design one-of-a-kind homes for local residents and his works include some of the best examples of Victorian domestic architecture in the state.

The George Crocket Statue

A well-known and respected SFA historian and Episcopal rector, Crocket was a professor emeritus of history and dean of students at Stephen F. Austin State Teachers College. He collected data about East Texas and authored Two Centuries in East Texas. Crocket also was a beloved Episcopal minister in San Augustine and Nacogdoches. Known as the “Grand Old Man of East Texas,” Crocket was part of the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, the Nacogdoches Historical Society, and founded the first East Texas Historical Association and the Boy Scouts of America troop in San Augustine. The statue is located on the property of Christ Episcopal Church on Mound Street.

Running to the Fight Statue

This work commemorates the estimated 194 individuals from the 1835 Nacogdoches County who participated in the Texas Revolution. A team of researchers used bounty payments, land grants, military service records, wills, and other historic documents to identify the Revolution's Nacogdoches participants. This statue is the newest on the list, dedicated on April 2017.

[Information from the Friends of Historic Nacogdoches, Inc. and the Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau.]

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