Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

January 16, 2010

New Birmingham’s rapid rise and fall

By Thanasis Kombos

Special contributor

Editor’s note: The following is the first of four parts of a history of New Birmingham, the ghost town outside Rusk, 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 with a letter explaining his motivation for sending his work for publication. 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: 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.

Emily Dickinson once wrote “Success is counted sweetest by those who ne’er succeed.”

While the likes of New Birmingham surely did not inspire her to construct such poetry, the past inhabitants of this Texas ghost town knew the truth of her words better than most as a people who perennially recognized the distinct taste of success, but never won the opportunity to savor it.

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