Although only one family was living here in 1846, the site was chosen as the seat of Cherokee County. Named after Thomas Jefferson Rusk, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, the town is famed as the birthplace of James Stephen Hogg and Thomas Mitchell Campbell, who were the first and second native-born Texans to serve as governor.

Visit the hiking trails and picnic sites at historic Butler Park. Birmingham Forest Golf Course is a scenic and challenging nine-hole course. Tee times: 903/683-9518. The post office lobby contains a mural painted in 1939 by Bernard Burch Zacheim. The paints used were mixed from clay native to the East Texas area.

The Old Rusk Penitentiary Building, now the central administration building of present Rusk State Hospital, was formerly the main building of Rusk State Prison, 1878. Iron structures, including the dome of State Capitol, were fabricated here by prisoners. A historical marker gives details. The building is not open to the public. Avenue A and U.S. 69.

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