San Augustine

San Augustine County, Texas

San Augustine County, Texas

The San Augustine County Courthouse is housed in San Augustine, Texas. Photograph by Renelibrary.
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San Augustine is at the junction of U.S. Highway 96, State highways 21 and 147, and Farm Roads 711, 353, 3230, 2213, and 1277, on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, thirty-two miles east of Nacogdoches in north central San Augustine County. Ayish Bayou flows through the town two miles west of the public square, and Carrizo Creek has been dammed just southwest of San Augustine to form City Lake, the source of municipal water. The original inhabitants of the area were the Ais (Aies, Ayish) tribe of the Hasinai Indians. The first European visitors were probably part of the Moscoso expedition early in the 1540s. The Indians remained undisturbed for almost 150 years, until French traders from Natchitoches ventured into the vicinity, discovering their village near the site of present San Augustine. The Spaniards returned in 1691, when Domingo Terán de los Ríos traveled through the area, cutting a path later called the Old San Antonio Road. In 1717 Father Antonio Márgil de Jesús established Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de los Ais Mission near the Ais village on Ayish Bayou. After being abandoned because of the threat of a French invasion in 1719, the mission was reestablished on the site of modern San Augustine by the Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo in 1721. But permanent settlement did not occur until after 1779, when the French threat became less ominous. Then Anglos and scattered remnants of the Kickapoo, Cherokee, Delaware, and Shawnee Indians immigrated from the southern states, particularly Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. Among these pioneers, who called the area the Ayish Bayou District, were John Quinalty, Susanna Horton, Martha Lewes, Edmund Quirk, and Chichester Chaplin. Antonio Leal and his wife, Gertrudis de los Santos, settled at the site of San Augustine and built a small house with corrals to accommodate wild mustangs gathered by Leal and Philip Nolan for sale in Louisiana. In 1800 Leal sold the property to Pedro Buigas, who sold it the following year to Edmund Quirk.

In 1827 Ayish Bayou residents elected municipal authorities, even though the Mexican government had not officially recognized the district. Nathan Davis became the first alcalde for Ayish Bayou District, George English the first sheriff. When the Fredonian Rebellion began in 1827, most people along the bayou abandoned their homes because advancing Mexican and rebel forces threatened their safety. Despite this apparent unwillingness to take sides, these settlers soon became involved in protests against the Mexican government. In 1832 they participated in the battle of Nacogdoches, and they sent representatives to the Convention of 1832. Sam Houston was one of their delegates to the Convention of 1833. In 1832, under the leadership of alcalde William McFarland, residents decided to construct a permanent settlement in a central location. A committee of fifteen men chose the banks of the Ayish Bayou, which had been the heart of local activities since Indian occupation, and purchased the land in January 1833 from Edmund Quirk for ninety dollars. Thomas S. McFarland was appointed to survey their purchase and plat 356 lots on forty-eight city blocks in a grid pattern, perhaps the first time that such a method was used in Texas. The streets were forty feet wide, and squares were reserved for the school, churches, municipal buildings, a market, and the jail. The following year, under alcalde Charles S. Taylor, the municipality of San Augustine was established by Mexican law. Mexican officials supposedly chose the name to honor St. Augustine of Hippo. Because the population of the district was more than 2,500, inhabitants could officially elect two councilmen, a clerk, a chief justice, a primary judge, and an alcalde.

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Vista K. McCroskey | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

San Augustine is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

San Augustine is classified as a Town


Latitude: 31.52965120
Longitude: -94.11084600

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated


Population Count, 2021 View more »