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Cherokee County, Texas



Cold Springs School and Methodist Church

In 1876, land at this site was deeded to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and to the county school superintendent for the use of a church and public school. The Cold Springs Methodist Church, which takes its name from a large spring nearby, has been served by circuit ministers throughout its history. The school, which closed in 1944, employed one teacher until about 1900, after which additional teachers were hired. The sanctuary and schoolhouse at Cold Springs served for many years as a focal point for the surrounding rural area. (1985) Texas Historical Commission Marker

Elm Grove Common School

Elm Grove, a Freedmen's community, was part of the county school system by 1884, when 69 school districts were set up by the Commissioners Court. Classes were held in a local church or in homes until the 1890s when a schoolhouse was erected on land given by R. B. and Caroline Wood. Built by Elm Grove citizens with donated materials, the building was originally one large room. A merger with other schools in 1917 increased the student population, and the interior was divided into three classrooms. The school closed in 1957 when it merged with Rusk schools. (1995) Texas Historical Commission Marker

Jacksonville College

The East Texas Educational Society was formed in the spring of 1899 to establish and maintain a Baptist college in East Texas which would provide academic and cultural training with a religious influence. The group chose Jacksonville for the college because of the convenient transportation offered by three railroad lines and good roads. Property on this site was purchased in July 1899, and work began promptly on the first building. When finished, the structure was the tallest building in Jacksonville. The college opened its doors to 34 students in a temporary space in the fall of 1899, taking up residence in its newly completed facility in November. By the end of the first session enrollment had reached 85. The first Jacksonville College president was the Rev. J. V. Vermillion, former president of East Texas Baptist College in Rusk. Among the first students in the graduating class was future Jacksonville College President B. J. Albritton. The school offered a bachelor of arts degree, placing a strong emphasis on Greek, Latin and math, as well as Biblical and Christian studies. The East Texas Educational Society proposed to transfer control of the college to the Baptist Missionary Association in 1904; in 1908 the transfer was accepted. The school grew steadily throughout the 20th century. The original 1899 structure long referred to as "Old Main" was razed in 1968. New, modern structures were erected as needed. In 1998, Jacksonville College continued to thrive, following in the footsteps of its founders with a program of religious and academic study.(1999) Texas Historical Commission Marker

Jacksonville Independent School District

Jacksonville Independent School District Jacksonville's early settlers valued education and had a school as early as 1846 at the original townsite. The Texas Legislature authorized creation of county school districts in 1854, and by the 1860s, Old Jacksonville supported at least two schools. In 1872, residents moved closer to the railroad, and by 1873, they established their first public school. More schools opened, including, at this site, the town's first free public school. Between 1905 and 1907, the city formed its own district with campuses for both white and black students. The schools integrated in the late 1960s. The district's notable graduates include Olympic and professional athletes, Grammy winners, Tony award nominees and many other successes. (2003) Texas Historical Commission Marker

Old Larissa College

A prominent school before the Civil War. Established in a log hut in 1848. Placed under the control of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1855. Chartered February 2, 1856. With splendid equipment, Larissa offered the strongest science work of the day in Texas. Closed in 1866. Dr. F. L. Yoakum, President, 1855-1866. (1936) Texas Historical Commission Marker

Lon Morris College

Oldest junior college in Texas. Founded in Kilgore by Dr. Isaac Alexander, pioneer educator. In 1875 it became property of the East Texas (now the Texas) Conference of the Methodist Church. It was moved to Jacksonville in 1894. A junior college since 1912, renamed Alexander College (1916), it was retitled in 1924 to honor Pittsburg (Tex.) banker R. A.(Lon) Morris. First junior college in Texas with a Phi Theta Kappa scholarship fraternity; Also member Southern Association of Colleges longer than any other junior college in the state. (1971)  Texas Historical Commission Marker

New Summerfield Public School

Public education in the Union Chapel community, which developed here at the junction of the old Tyler-Rusk and Jacksonville- Henderson roads, began in the 1850s. Early classes were held in the Union Chapel Church, an ecumenical worship facility and community center. A one-room schoolhouse was built in 1895, and after an U.S. post office was established in 1897 under the name Summerfield, the school name changed from Union Chapel School to Summerfield School. The post office closed in 1905. As new facilities were built, surrounding schools began to consolidate with the Summerfield School. A two-room structure built in 1906 was destroyed in a 1920 windstorm. It was replaced that year by a new brick building, the first brick structure in Summerfield. By 1929 the Summerfield Independent School District was formed. A new post office for the community was established in 1938. Because another Texas town was named Summerfield, this became New Summerfield. Throughout its history, the New Summerfield School has been the center of scholastic and social activities. It continues to serve as the focal point of the community. (1991) Texas Historical Commission Marker

Pine Grove School

Earliest county school records indicate that the Pine Grove School was in operation by at least 1885, serving African American students in this part of rural Cherokee County. One teacher taught all grades in a community schoolhouse. After World War I, a growing student population led authorities to apply to the Julius Rosenwald Fund, from which they secured funding to help build a new schoolhouse. Completed in 1926, the two-teacher type school was enlarged in 1935-36 to make room for two more teachers. Pine Grove, which produced a number of students who went on to very successful careers, operated as a segregated institution until it closed in 1968 and merged with the New Hope school district. (2001)  Texas Historical Commission Marker

First Free Public School

In 1885 a two-story frame structure was built on this site and served as the first free public school in Jacksonville. It was destroyed by a tornado in 1890. A three-story brick building was erected here in 1910-12. Known as the East Side School, it served elementary and secondary students at different times until 1939. After decades of use for school purposes, the hillside stood bare until 1940. In that year a sports stadium, known as the Tomato Bowl, was begun by the Federal Works Progress Administration and the Jacksonville Independent School District. (1988)   Texas Historical Commission Marker

Rusk College

After efforts to relocate a Methodist school to Rusk fell through, the community convinced the Cherokee Baptist Association to establish a school on 12.2 acres donated by local resident Georgiana Bonner. Chartered in 1894, the East Texas Baptist Institute was housed in a grand 3-story structure and offered classes from first grade through junior college. Renamed Rusk Academy of Industrial Arts in 1907 and Rusk College in 1919, the six-building campus was closed in 1928. In 1937 the main building was razed and its cornerstone later put on display at the First Baptist Church. (1992)  Texas Historical Commission Marker

Rusk Public School No. 2 for African Americans

By 1884 the Rusk Public School District maintained two schools: No. 1 for its Anglo students and No. 2 for its African American students. A yearly average of 50 students met in a small house built here about 1895 to house Rusk Public School No. 2. In 1939 the Rusk Independent School District erected a new school building southeast of downtown Rusk for its African American students. Named after long-term principal G. W. Bradford, the facility was used until Rusk integrated its schools in the 1960s. Many graduates of this school became highly respected professionals. (1993) Texas Historical Commission Marker