Nacogdoches resident finds founding document for San Augustine at estate sale

SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - You just never know what can be discovered at an estate sale.

For the City of San Augustine, a special find is creating a lot of excitement, just in time for the city's 180th birthday celebration on Saturday.

There's no question by a San Augustine native as to when her home town was established.

Nayona Millard has lived in Nacogdoches for years, but she calls San Augustine home. She's a little closer to her roots thanks to a discovery made this summer at a hometown estate sale.

"This is the founding document for the City of San Augustine, dated 1833, July 11th," Millard said.

The Mexican seal caught Millard's attention.

"When I realized what it was, I just couldn't believe it," Millard said.

The opening paragraph expressing concern by the region's first economic developers sealed the deal.

Millard read that portion of the document out loud, quoting, "For years past it is evident that the best interest of the country has been sacrificed in this district by not having a town to concentrate the efforts of industry."

Millard had to have it. Only after paying for it did she take a closer look.

"And then I flipped it over, and that's when I saw Houston's signature, and I said, "For goodness sakes,'" Millard said.

Millard said Texas historic icon Sam Houston's unique signature is unmistakable.

"That's what it always looks like," Millard said.

Sam Houston was the first president of the Republic of Texas. He also served as Texas' U.S. Senator and later as its governor.

The estate seller, unaware of the signature, sold it for $1,000. The document could be worth more.

"A personal letter that Sam Houston wrote a couple weeks ago went for sale for $50,000," Millard said.

Millard says that's of no interest to this East Texas country girl.

"Because what is close to my heart is not his signature, but the founding document of a town that I love," Millard said.

Millard even had numbered prints of the document made by the SFA Press. They'll be sold to raise money for the newly established San Augustine Main Street Program.

"What kind of person would I be if I didn't share it," Millard said. "It's just too precious."

The document lines out the square mile of what was "to bear the name of Saint Augustine," Millard said.

However, because the area was still under Mexican dominion, that name led to complications, so it was changed to San Augustine.

"There was one lady, which I think is very unusual for a woman to be in business at that time," Millard said.

Twenty-one founders paid $10 a share to create San Augustine. Millard, a daughter of a preacher holds them in high honor.

"These are the people who dug the wells and planted the vineyards and I just think they should be recognized and honored," Millard said.

Many of the descendants of the San Augustine founders will be in the city Saturday afternoon for a 180th city birthday party.

Prints of Millard's document will be available at the 2 p.m. event held at the museum theater.

"They're excellent. They're on parchment paper," said Tracy Cox, San Augustine's Main Street manager. They sell for $50 each. And those of the descendents of the 21 signers of the founding document who will be there are excited to receive their copy, as well as a lot of people in our area."

Saturday's celebration will be held in conjunction with the annual Sassafras Festival, an event for the whole family that begins in the morning.

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