Appleby is on U.S. Highway 59 and Farm roads 941 and 2609 seven miles northeast of Nacogdoches in central Nacogdoches County. The site was originally a Caddo Indian village. White settlers began arriving in the area in the 1820s but did not develop a community until the early 1880s, when the Houston, East and West Texas Railway was built through the area. The railroad platted a new town and named it for James Appleby, former auditor of the HEWT. In 1885 the community had a reported population of 100, a general store, and two cotton gins; a post office began operating in 1889. At its height during World War I the town had a population of nearly 1,000, four churches, two gins, four sawmills, two hotels, and several drugstores. The Appleby school, founded before 1900, became the first independent school district in the county. By the mid-1920s the population had fallen to 500; many residents moved to Nacogdoches. Several tornadoes damaged the town, especially one in 1942. By the early 1950s the population had dwindled to 250. During the late 1950s and early 1960s most of the remaining businesses closed. The post office was discontinued in 1958, and by 1964 the last store had closed. The town incorporated around 1970, even as the population decline continued. In the early 1980s Appleby began to revive as retirees and others from nearby Nacogdoches began building homes in the area. The population was 449 in 1990, and 444 in 2000.