The Stone Fort
by ARCHIE P. MCDONALD
Apr 05, 2009 | 296 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AT THE end of the contest for possession of East Texas between Spanish and French empires, which Spain won, significant changes came to the region. When the Peace of Paris of 1763 removed France from the equation, the Spanish viceroy sent the Marquis De Rubi to investigate missions and presidios located in East Texas partially as signposts to the French to “Keep Out.” When De Rubi found the presidios incapable of defense, the missionaries unsuccessful as evangelists, and the French threat no longer present, he recommended closing them down and moving the civilian population that had settled near them to San Antonio.

DE RUBI’S report resulted in the roundup and removal of Spanish missionaries, soldiers and civilians, but four years later some of the latter followed Antonio Gil Y’Barbo back to an abandoned mission site near the confluence of LaNana and Banita creeks, and founded the secular puebla, or town, of Nacogdoches, in April 1779. By June, Y’Barbo had received official recognition of his action.

Y’Barbo received a commission as both civic and military chief of the area. He directed its settlement, helped establish farms and ranches, and built, not far from his home, a “casa de piedras,” or Stone House, later known as the Stone Fort, though it never really functioned as a fortress.

THE STONE FORT’S real role was the place where Y’Barbo conducted business—both governmental and entrepreneurial—lent it a public aura it never relinquished although it remained privately owned until razed early in the Twentieth Century.

Concerned citizens gathered there in 1830 to discuss Mexico’s new law banning immigration from the United States; in 1832 to select delegates for revolutionary conventions and the Consultation; to muster volunteers for service in the Mexican War, Civil War, and Spanish American; and, in less glamorous service, to take a drink in the saloon that gave the old stone structure a shady reputation during its final days.

W.U. PERKINS purchased the Stone Fort in 1902, which by then occupied the northeast corner of the town square, and knocked it down to make for a modern business house. The Cum Concilio Club, a lady’s organization, saved some of the materials for later use, and in 1936, one of the New Deal’s agencies built a replica of the Stone Fort on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University, where it serves as a museum for East Texas archeological studies.

The reproduction was so true that Gil Y’Barbo would recognize his old business house, though he would wonder about the modern dormitories and classroom buildings that surround it.

The East Texas Historical Association provides this column as a public service. Archie P. McDonald is Community Liaison for Stephen F. Austin State University and teaches history. Scott Sosebee is Executive Director of the Association and can be contacted at sosebeem@sfasu.edu.
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