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Texas is divided into two hundred and fifty-four counties, more than any other state. Texas was originally divided into municipalities, a unit of local government under Spanish and Mexican rule. When the Republic of Texas gained its independence in 1836, there were 23 municipalities, which became the original Texas counties. Many of these would later be divided into new counties. The most recent county to be created was Kenedy County in 1921. The most recent county to be organized was Loving County in 1931

Rusk County, Texas

Rusk County Education, Geography, and History

Rusk County, Texas Courthouse

Rusk County is a county located in the state of Texas. Based on the 2010 census, its population was 53,330. Its county seat is Henderson. The county is named for Thomas Jefferson Rusk, a secretary of war of the Republic of Texas.

Rusk County is part of the Longview, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the Longview-Marshall, TX Combined Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Rusk County Name

Thomas Jefferson Rusk, a general in the Texas Revolution and leading statesman in the new state


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Rusk County History

Originally a part of Nacogdoches County, Rusk was established as its own county by the Congress of the Republic of Texas on January 16, 1843. By 1850, it was the second most populous county in Texas out of the 78 counties that had been organized at that time.  Its seat is Henderson. Rusk County is named for Thomas Jefferson Rusk, a secretary of war of the Republic of Texas.

Handbook of Texas
The area has been the site of human habitation for several thousand years. Archeological artifacts suggest that the earliest human inhabitants arrived during the Archaic Period, 2,000 to 3,000 years ago. Evidence of the prehistoric Caddo culture, which flourished between A.D. 1000 and 1600, has also been found in the area, and the earliest Spanish explorers encountered the remnants of that culture during their first forays into the region. Between 1761 and 1810 two Tejas villages are known to have existed in the area of the future county: Aynais, in the southwestern corner of the present county, and Nacogdoches Village, near the site of present Minden. As many as four early Spanish expeditions crossed what is now Rusk County between 1691 and 1788. Domingo Ter? de los R?s crossed the area on his way to the northeast in 1691, and Domingo Ram? led an expedition across the county around 1717. Fray Jos?Calahorra y Saenz passed through the southwestern corner in September 1760, and in 1788 Pedro Vial traversed the northern portion of the future county. Although the area was part of the Department of Nacogdoches, the Spanish never built any permanent settlements in it, and today very little Spanish or Mexican influence can be seen in the county except for the names of a few streams. The first Anglo-American settlers came into Rusk County as early as 1829. The earliest land grant within the present-day borders of the county was issued to William Elliott on March 22, 1829; other early grantees included the brothers Thomas and Leonard Williams, Joseph Durst, and Henry Stockman. By 1834 white settlers began to arrive in large numbers; between May 2 and November 23, 1834, the Mexican government issued forty-three land grants in the area, the majority of them to recent American immigrants. After the Texas Revolution, the population grew rapidly, as new settlers arrived by way of Trammel's Trace, the Nacogdoches Road, and the Green Grass Trail. Cherokee and Shawnee Indians under the leadership of Chief Bowl occupied the western part of the area during the 1820s and 1830s, but with their removal after the Cherokee War in 1839 the way was opened for white settlement. Most of the new colonists came from the Old South, particularly Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, attracted by the availability of abundant cheap land. Although most of the early settlers were of modest means, some were wealthy planters, among them James Smith, Julien Sidney Devereux, and Albert Tatum, who brought sizable numbers of slaves with them. After Texas independence the territory was originally a part of Nacogdoches County, but upon an act of the Congress of the Republic of Texas, Rusk County was formed on January 16, 1843, and was named for Thomas Jefferson Rusk, who had been secretary of war under President Sam Houston. The county seat was established as near the center of the county as possible by the five commissioners appointed to acquire land for the purpose. Gen. James Smith donated the original townsite of 65.5 acres, and he later sold 69.5 acres more to the town. Later, William B. Ochiltree donated five acres north of the town square and in the deed named the town for his friend James Pinckney Henderson. More at
Virginia Knapp and Megan Biesele, "RUSK COUNTY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hcr12), accessed January 24, 2016. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 939 square miles (2,431 km2), of which, 924 square miles (2,392 km2) of it is land and 15 square miles (39 km2) of it (1.61%) is water

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Gregg County (north)
  • Harrison County (northeast)
  • Panola County (east)
  • Shelby County (southeast)
  • Nacogdoches County (south)
  • Cherokee County (southwest)
  • Smith County (northwest)


The following school districts serve Rusk County:

Carlisle ISD
Cushing ISD (mostly in Nacogdoches County)
Garrison ISD (mostly in Nacogdoches County)
Henderson ISD
Kilgore ISD (mostly in Gregg County)
Laneville ISD
Leverett's Chapel ISD
Mount Enterprise ISD
Overton ISD
Rusk ISD (mostly in Cherokee County)
Tatum ISD (partly in Panola County)
West Rusk ISD
Rusk County's first officially authorized school was the Rusk County Academy.

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