JACKSONVILLE — Editor’s note: The following is a research paper written by Thanasis Kombos, a Jacksonville resident who is currently a history major at Stephen F. Austin State University. Kombos prefaced his submission of this paper to the Daily Progress for publication with a letter explaining his motivation for sending us his paper. A portion of his letter prefaces this section of his paper. The subsequent parts of his paper will be printed on the coming three Sundays, accompanied by photos, as applicable, of New Birmingham.
A letter from the author: Through the course of the last fall semester I wrote a primary-source-based research paper as an assignment for one of my history classes. New Birmingham, the abandoned ghost town outside of Rusk, was the subject I chose to explore and write on. My desire to publish in the Jacksonville Daily Progress is twofold. Firstly, as New Birmingham’s history is vivid and colorful and town’s eventual failure has had lasting effects on Cherokee County and East Texas as a whole, I believe it deserves a place in the active memory of the area’s citizens. Secondly, and I believe of more importance, concerns the place and value of history in our culture today. In this day, more and more it seems that the appreciation of a community’s heritage and its civic pride, once propelled and supported by a genuine interest in history, has, in many ways, greatly diminished. In 1913, Ossie Wiggins, the salutatorian of Jacksonville High School, wrote an essay describing the history of Cherokee County to date. By submitting my essay for publication, I hope to continue that same tradition of students of history (especially our younger generation of lay historians) taking up the pen and writing on our community’s history and sharing their work with the rest of the populace.