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Cherokee County TX
Cherokee County

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Cherokee County Seat, East Texas

31° 47' 54" N, 95° 9' 0" W (31.798333, -95.15)
Highways 69, 84 and 110
FMs 23, 241, 343 and 768
14 miles SE of Jacksonville
31 miles E of Palestine
37 miles NW of Nacogdoches
120 miles SE of Dallas
Population: 5,573 Est. (2016)
5,551 (2010) 5,085 (2000) 4,366 (1990)

Rusk, Texas Area Hotels
Jacksonville Hotels | Palestine Hotels
Men on Wheel, Rusk, Texas vintage photo
Workmen at the state prison foundry at Rusk
Courtesy Arcadia Publishing & Cherokee Co Hist Commission

Rusk, Texas Topics:

  • History in a Pecan Shell
  • Rusk Landmarks/Attractions
  • Rusk Nearby Attractions/Destinations
  • People
  • Rusk Chronicles
  • Sunday Drive - Rusk: Mark Twain might have lived here by Bob Bowman. › next page
  • Cherokee County - Towns, ghost Towns, vintage Maps › next page
  • Watermelon in Rusk, Texas 1950
    "Melons grown by Hulen Wilcox" c. 1950. Mr. Wilcox (who appears somewhat reluctant to add one last melon) and two unidentified helpers.
    Photo courtesy Arcadia Publ. & Cherokee Co Hist Commission

    History in a Pecan Shell

    Named for Thomas Jefferson Rusk who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, Rusk also was the birthplace for James Stephen Hogg and Thomas Campbell who were the first two Governors of Texas to be born in the state.

    A timeline of significant events in Rusk:
    1846: Rusk becomes county seat
    1847: Post office granted, courthouse and jail built
    1850: Population 355 residents
    1851: Stephens and Carter Academy was opened - to later become the Rusk Male and Female Academy
    1870s: When bypassed by the International-Great Northern Railroad, Rusk built its own railroad to Jacksonville - a railroad with wooden rails.
    1880s: Population more than triples to nearly 2,000
    1877: Work begins on State Penitentiary which later becomes the Rusk State Hospital
    1893: Rail line constructed linking prison with (what is now) Maydelle
    1903: Gov. Thomas M. Campbell helps pass a bill extending the Texas State Railroad from Rusk to Palestine.
    1927: Courthouse square paved
    1929: Population reaches 2,750
    1936: Population reaches 3,859
    1952: Population reaches its zenith at 6,617

    Rusk, Texas Landmarks/Attractions

    1941 Cherokee County Courthouse today
    Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, July 2007
    Cherokee County Courthouse
    Cherokee County mural of Caddo & Cherokee Indians, in Rusk Texas
    Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, July 2007
    Cherokee County Courthouse Murals
    Rusk Texas Post Office Mural Agriculture and Industry by Bernard Zacheim
    Photo courtesy Gerald Massey , February 2009
    Rusk's Post Office Mural
    "Agriculture and Industry" by Bernard Zacheim
  • The Heritage Center of Cherokee County - a block off Rusk’s courthouse square

  • The Bonner Bank Building c. 1865 - first bank in Cherokee County

  • Old Rusk Penitentiary Building: c. 1878 - U.S. 69 and Avenue "A"
  • Rusk TX Downtown
    Downtown Rusk
    Photo courtesy Lori Martin, December 2005
    Rusk TX - Thomas & Rusk Hotel Downtown
    Thomas J. Rusk Hotel on the town square
    "[A] good place to start a walking tour of Rusk."
    Photo courtesy Lori Martin, December 2005
    More Rooms with a Past
    Rusk TX - City Hall & Downtown Fire Station
    Rusk City Hall & Fire Station
    Photo courtesy Lori Martin, December 2005
    Rusk TX - First United Methodist Church of Rusk
    First United Methodist Church of Rusk
    308 N. Henderson Street

    Photo courtesy Lori Martin, December 2005
    Historical Marker:

    First United Methodist Church of Rusk

    Organized in 1849, this congregation was first served by the Rev. Henderson D. Palmer (1812-1869). A circuit riding minister, Palmer received his license to preach in 1838 in Nacogdoches County. The first deed for the Methodist church property in Rusk was recorded on May 22, 1850. The first church building was erected the following year. A second sanctuary was built in 1896 during the pastorate of the Rev. A. A. Godbey. Those serving on the building committee were E. L. Gregg, J. W. Summers, and J. F. Mallard.

    The present building was completed in 1920 while the congregation was under the leadership of the Rev. J. W. Goodwin. It was dedicated in 1935, when the building debt was retired. The dedication day was referred to as a great day in the life of the church. All three Methodist sanctuaries have stood on this site. There have also been three parsonages. The first, built in 1879, was replaced by a second home in 1947. Recent additions to the church property were an educational building in 1961 and parsonage in 1981.

    For over a century, the First United Methodist Church of Rusk has been a vital part of the community. Many descendants of early members continue to be active in the life of the church.

    Rusk TX - First Presbyterian Church
    First Presbyterian Church
    Photo courtesy Lori Martin, December 2005
    Churches in Rusk, Texas
    Churches in Rusk, Texas
    Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
    More Texas Churches
    Rusk TX- Cherokee Theatre Neon
    Cherokee Theatre Neon
    Photo courtesy Lori Martin, December 2005
    More Texas Old Neon
    Rusk TX - Cherokee Theatre with neon sign
    Photo courtesy Lori Martin, December 2005
    Rusk TX - Cherokee Theatre with neon sign
    The restored Cherokee Theatre in downtown Rusk
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, November 2010
    More Texas Theatres
    Rusk Footbridge, Texas
    Photo courtesy Robert Grimes, August 2006
    Footbridge Garden Park
    The 546 foot bridge is two blocks east of the square
    at the end of 5th Street at Lone Oak in Rusk

    Rusk Nearby Attractions/Destinations:
  • Fairchild State Forest - 13 miles west of Rusk on Highway 84

  • Jim Hogg Historic Site - 2 miles NE of Rusk on Highway 84

  • Texas State Railroad - In Rusk State Park:
    Train ride 25 miles to Palestine and return.
    See also Texas State Railroad by Archie McDonald, PhD
  • Texas State Railroad locomotive warming up
    Texas State Railroad
    Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, TX - Caddo Burial Mound
    Photo courtesy Dana Goolsby, October 2010
    Caddo Mounds State Historic Site

    Rusk Sunday Drive

  • Rusk : Mark Twain might have lived here
    (from "East Texas Sunday Drives" by Bob Bowman)
    Rusk, Alto, Jim Hogg State Park, Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, two ghost towns, and the longest footbridge in the United States

    Rusk Tourist Information
    Rusk Chamber of Commerce: 1-800-933-2381

  • People

  • Governor James Stephen Hogg by Archie P. McDonald

  • Governor Thomas Mitchell Campbell by Archie P. McDonald

  • Legacy of an Oldtimer by Bob Bowman
    "Alvin Burchfield of Rusk is the kind of oldtimer every historian dreams of interviewing. At 92, he remembers more facts and dates than you'll find in most county history books."

  • Jim Swink Comes Home by Bob Bowman
    Jim Swink, the lanky halfback who thrilled high school and Texas Christian University football fans in the 1950s, has returned home to his roots...

  • Rusk, Texas Chronicles
  • The wooden-tracked railroad by Bob Bowman
    The Rusk Tramway
    It wasn’t the longest railroad in East Texas. And it certainly wasn’t the most profitable. But it taught its builders, the good people of Rusk, how not to run a railroad...

  • Prison House
    "In the late 1800's and 1900's my house served as a prison house..."

  • Rusk TX High School
    Rusk High School - 1920s
    Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com
    Rusk TX - Old Factory
    Old Factory
    Photo courtesy Lori Martin, December 2005
    Rusk TX - Old Foundry
    "These were taken at some kind of old Factory. My mom said it was a Foundry. Not sure. The property is for sale and it is all fenced in. It is located on highway 84 outside of Rusk toward Maydelle." -
    Lori Martin December 2005

    "Rusk has a history of involvement in the Civil War and you'll find a... gun factory site on U.S. 84 west of the city." -
    Rusk : Mark Twain might have lived here

    Take a road trip

    Rusk, Texas Nearby Towns:
    Jacksonville | Palestine | Nacogdoches
    See Cherokee County | East Texas

    Book Hotel Here:
    Jacksonville Hotels | Palestine Hotels | More Hotels
    Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, landmarks and recent or vintage photos, please contact us.




























































































































































































































































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