Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Nation/World and Features

June 26, 2006

Reviving tales of New Birmingham

Kevin Stingley nears end of research for his book about New Birmingham

RUSK — How does a book about a town filled with wealth and riches, along with many different characters sound? Throw in a murder that rocks the town and creates a myth and you’ve got a book about New Birmingham.

Kevin Stingley, a history teacher at Rusk Junior High School, has stacks of folders of information on New Birmingham, and he is almost finished researching for a book about the town which he’s considered writing for several years.

Stingley said he got the idea to write a book about the thriving-community-turned-ghost town, approximately eight-and-half years ago.

“I was sponsoring a group of junior historians from junior high, and I thought it was a good idea to have them visit the museum,” Stingley said.

While at the museum, Virginia Penny, who was a worker at the museum at the time, shared with Stingley some little facts about New Birmingham.

“I got fascinated and got interested in it,” Stingley said. “The first picture I saw was of the Southern Hotel, on the corner of U.S. 69 and FM 323 on Atoy Highway. You can still see the magnolia trees there.”

From there, he said, the research — and findings — grew.

“I located the great-granddaughter of the founder of the town, who lives in Central, (a town located just north of Lufkin),” he said. Supposedly, Alexander Blevins founded the town, but Stingley found out the real founder was Anderson Blevins.

“She said, ‘well, yes my great-grandfather founded the town, but Alexander wasn’t his name — it was Anderson. Alexander was his brother.’

“So you see how oral history works,” Stingley said with a laugh.

Stingley said New Birmingham, a once thriving town approximately a mile-and-a-half from Rusk, came into existence due to the iron ore and railroad industries.

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