Nacogdoches is a small city in situated in Eastern Texas and the county seat of Nacogdoches County. The 2010 U.S. Census recorded the city’s population to be 32,996. Nacogdoches is a sister city of the smaller and similarly-named Natchitoches, Louisiana, the third-largest city in the Southern Ark-La-Tex.

Nacogdoches is the home of Stephen F. Austin State University and Texas’ largest azalea garden. The city's nickname is "The Oldest Town in Texas".

Nacogdoches in "Hail! Hail!"[]

Nacogdoches was the site of two events separated by 90 years that became inextricably linked. In December, 1826, Empresario Haden Edwards attempted to establish the Republic of Fredonia and secede from Mexico. In 1912, the Marx Brothers (Julius, Leonard, Arthur and Milton) played Nacogdoches when they were a struggling song-and-dance act. Most of their audience ran out in the middle of the show to view a runaway mule. Irate, Julius Marx began to insult the audience who remained. However, the audience misunderstood, and thought Julius was simply doing a comedy bit, and began laughing hard. The Marx Brothers realized they were better comics than song-and-dance men, and so adopted their new act.[1]

These two events were linked in 1934 when the Marx Brothers (now Leonard, Arthur, Julius, and their youngest brother Herbert, but not Milton) visited Nacogdoches after their train detoured there en route to New Orleans. The four were struck by lightning, but weren't killed. Instead, they were sent back in time to December 15, 1826.[2]

They quickly made the acquaintance Adolphus Sterne, the merchant who'd provided arms to the Fredonian rebels. They told him who they were and that they were residents of 1934.[3] Julius Marx informed Sterne that the the Fredonian Republic was doomed, although he couldn't recall Sterne's fate. The idealistic Sterne was outraged. He argued that since the four knew how it failed, they could help the Fredonia Rebellion succeed. Despite having only the most limited knowledge of Fredonia, Julius, seeing no other options, agreed, much to the horror of his brothers.[4]

The next day, Haden Edwards and his men arrived. The group went out to watch them seize the Old Stone Fort after a short gun battle. Sterne was enthusiastic about the victory, and the future republic it would create; Julius was more cautious.[5] Not long after, Sterne brought the brothers to Edwards and told him who they were. Julius promised to help Fredonia as much as possible, and told Edwards what happened in the future. Edwards accepted the Marx Brothers' offer of help, promising them that they'd never want for anything if they succeeded, and promising to murder each of them with his bare hand if they deceived him.[6]

Over the course of the remainder of December, the Marx brothers and Sterne secured the alliance with the local Cherokee, incidentally causing the death of Mexican Indian agent Peter Ellis Bean over the course of events. Bean's death insured that the Cherokee would stay in the Fredonian camp, as the Mexican government would not believe that the Cherokee were blameless. The Cherokees' chief, Richard Fields announced that the warriors would head to Nacogdoches after they buried Bean.[7]

In January, 1827, the Marx brothers and Sterne were able to convince Stephen F. Austin to back the Fredonian cause.[8] The Marx Brothers settled into Nacogdoches, where they rented a house, and began performing at the tavern. They tried to blend in more. Herbert even started dating a woman named Maggie who worked at a dye shop, and so wasn't quite as weary of the place as his brothers. When Julius hit on a scheme to go out in a lightning storm again, Herbert initially balked, arguing that they could easily wind up dead or in the 18th century rather than 1934. Julius countered that Herbert didn't want to give up his relationship with Maggie. Leonard and Arthur, on the other hand, were willing to try.[9]

Spring arrived, and so did a thunderstorm. Herbert, who'd broken things off with Maggie by this point, joined his brothers. The four went out, and were struck by lightning. Once again, they found themselves standing on pavement. They even saw a car, proving they were in the 20th century at least. However, the car looked nothing like any vehicle they'd scene, and it was manufactured by "Montgomery". The also saw a sign that warned any blacks on the street after sundown would be hanged. They were horrified; Julius couldn't remember seeing any sign like that anywhere in the country. The walked on and found a business with a flag painted in the window. The flag consisted of fifteen red stars on a white St. Andrew's cross on a blue field. The business was a slave-catching company, licensed by the "Confederal government" in 1909. Realizing what they'd done in the past, Julius was left praying for one more bolt of lightning.[10]


  1. "Hail! Hail!", loc. 114-138.
  2. Ibid., loc. 178-223.
  3. Ibid., loc. 235-268.
  4. Ibid., loc. 374-391.
  5. Ibid., loc. 444-492.
  6. Ibid., loc. 492-523.
  7. Ibid., loc. 492-877.
  8. Ibid., loc. 877-1192.
  9. Ibid., loc. 1192-1223
  10. Ibid, loc. 1234-1264.