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Thomas J. Rusk Collection

Identifier: A-0136

Scope and Contents

This collection was formed by gathering items from a variety of sources. The family Bible of Thomas J. Rusk, gift of a descendant, and a letter written by him to his brother, David, were transferred to us by the Stone Fort Museum. The letter was written during the same time period, that of Rusk's service as a U. S. Senator in Washington, as letters in the Department in the Thomas J. Rusk Letters collection. The "Heritage" columns by Lucille Fain which appeared in the Daily Sentinel during late 1975 and early 1976, were inspired by and based on Rusk's letters in the Department and in other repositories.


  • 1826-1978

Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Biographical or Historical Information

Thomas Jefferson Rusk was born on December 5, 1803 in Pendleton District, South Carolina to John and Mary (Sterritt) Rusk. He was influenced by John C. Calhoun to study law and practiced in Georgia, where he met and married Mary F. Cleveland in 1827. In Georgia, he made some unwise investments and lost some money. Those responsible headed west to Texas and T. J. Rusk followed them, eventually settling in Nacogdoches, Texas, without recovering his investment.

He met Sam Houston and other leaders who opposed the Mexican government, and in the fall of 1835 he organized a company of volunteers at Nacogdoches and joined the Texas troops near San Antonio. From that time on, we devoted himself wholly to the achievement of Texas independence. He was a colonel in the Siege at San Antonio, and a member of the convention which declared the independence of the republic.

He was appointed Secretary of war, but resigned after a few weeks. He was elected to the Second Congress of the Republic, serving from September 25, 1837 to May 24, 1838. He was elected chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court on December 12, 1838 and served until June 20, 1840. He commanded Texas troops in expelling the Cherokee Indians from Texas.

In January, 1843, Rusk was elected major general of the militia and returned to law practice with James Pickney Henderson when his term of office was finished.

In February, 1846, Rusk and Sam Houston were elected to the United States Senate, where he served until his death on July 29, 1857. He died by a self-inflicted gun wound at his home in Nacogdoches. He never fully recovered from the death of his beloved wife, Mary. He is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery.


0.50 Cubic Feet


This collection consists of 11 folders and a Bible housed in a clamshell box.

Guide to the Thomas J. Rusk Collection
Linda Nicklas
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the East Texas Research Center Repository