Rusk History 1934
Rusk History Written in 1934
Rusk. When the Rusk town site was purchased, John Kilgore, living in an Indian shanty on Lot 2, Block 31, was the only white man within its boundaries. [footnote: The Kilgores afterward moved to the north part of town. The rock-enclosed cemetery in the old road to the State Hospital, concerning which many erroneous reports have circulated, contains the graves of members of the Kilgore family.] Not long, however, was he left alone. Granville J. Carter and William T. Long, Douglas settlers who had moved to Cook's Fort to await the first lot sale, and Edward L. Givens, soon built homes. Eliza Long and Sudie Givens were the first white children born in the town.
Among the newcomers during the next four years were the Philleos, Vinings, Camerons, Cannons, Vaughts, Bonners, Millers, Boyds, Langs, Moseleys, Guinns, Cooks, Gibsons, Brittains, Jacksons, Irbys, Mitchells, Dossetts, Copelands, Henrys, Dillards, McEacherns, Wades, and Martins. Many of these families had settled on farms adjacent to Rusk between 1839 and 1845 and are represented in the citizenship of today. By 1850 the town was credited with a population of 355.
On May 2, 1847, Reverend J. B. Harris organized the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and within a year its four members had increased to thirty-five. Walter E. and Miss Emma Long and W. D. Deckard are descendants of its charter members. In 1850 Reverend Harris also organized the first Sunday school, a union school which existed until the '80s [1880s]
The first church building was a union church, located on the present site of the E. L. Summers residence, Lot 4, Block 22. In 1853 it was sold at auction to satisfy the claims of the contractor and was purchased by the Cumberland Presbyterians. Reverend A. J. Coupland, Reverend M. Priest and Reverend N. A. Davis were later pastors of this church.
The Methodists, the second church to perfect an organization, were the first to erect a separate building. In the fall of 1851 their first church was built on the site of their present brick structure. Among early Methodist ministers were Reverend John Adams, Reverend A. H. Shanks, Doctor C. G. Young and Reverend E. P. Rogers.
Late in March, 1851, Reverend I. M. Becton and Reverend J. D. Sharp organized the Old School Presbyterian Church with eight charter members. Among the pastors of this church were Reverend W. K. Marshall and Reverend John Bell. The building stood on Henderson Street, two blocks from the courthouse square. It is said to have had the first self-supporting roof in Rusk and people were at first quite doubtful about its safety.
In April, 1906, the two Presbyterian organizations united and two years later found it advisable to move to a third location, the present site of the Presbyterian Church. Reverend J. L. Stitt was the first pastor of the combined churches. In 1910, Doctor S. M. Tenney, now curator of the Southern Presbyterian Church, took charge and during his pastorate, in 1914, the Presbyterians erected the first brick church in Rusk.
While Reverend W. G. Caperton and Reverend Chase had conducted Baptist services in Rusk, no Baptist Church was organized until the '80s. In 1891, largely through the initiative of Mrs. M. W. Farmer, a building was erected on Lot 2, Block 18. Reverend J. H. Thorn, chaplain of the Rusk branch of the penitentiary, was the first pastor. In 1910 the building was moved to the present site of the Baptist Church. In 1925 it was torn down and the present structure begun. Through a legacy left by Mr. and Mrs. B. Miller, long-time Rusk merchants, the Catholic Church was built about 1905. The Christian Church was organized in the '20s. After meeting in various places, the congregation built the present tabernacle on Henderson Street in 1927.