is also the home of the Texas
State Railroad, which is the subject of a special Sunday
Drive elsewhere in this book, and the site of Jim
Hogg Historic Site. Located just off U.S. 84 east of Rusk,
the park pays tribute to the
first native-born governor of Texas. Hogg
was one of two Texas governors born in Rusk; the other was Thomas
originally the home of the governor, was once called "Mountain Home"
and rests on a mountain about 200 feet above the rest of Rusk. Even
on the hottest days, park visitors will find a soothing breeze in
the park. A replica of Hogg's
old home is used as a museum.
Campbell's birthplace is four miles northeast of Rusk
on FM 768, off U.S. 69, but only a state historical marker is left
on the spot. In Rusk,
you'll also find the Rusk State Hospital, which was built originally
as a state prison in l877-79. Some of the prison's old buildings
still stand on the grounds.
take Farm Road 752, which will carry you south through the gently
rolling hills of Cherokee County toward Alto.
Hulen Wilcox's syrup mill is located just off the farm road, but
he only operates the mill during the late fall when his cane crop
is ready. When the mill is working, Hulen usually puts a sign on
the side of FM 752.
There are several theories about the origin of the town's name.
An early pioneer is supposed to have suggested the name because
he felt that Alto was the Latin word for high. Another story says
the name was chosen because Alto is the Spanish word for stop.
several sites near Alto
worth side trips.
few miles east on Texas
Highway 21, you'll find a miniature park and gravesite of Helena
Kimble Dill Nelson, mother of the first child believed to have been
born to Anglo-Americans in Texas. Five miles northeast of Alto on
the Rusk-Linwood Road is Forest Hill, the one-time plantation
home of Captain James Berryman and his wife, Helene
Dill Berryman, that historic first child.
you return to Alto
from the two side trips, start in a southwesterly direction on Texas
Highway 21 and travel about six miles to the Caddo
Mounds State Historic Site.
Here you'll find evidence of Indians who lived in East
Texas thousands of years ago. The early Caddos lived on the
site around 800 A.D. The alluvial prairie near the Neches
River had ideal qualities for the establishment of a village
and ceremonial center, good sandy loam soil for agricultural, abundant
natural food resources in the forest, and a permanent water source
in the nearby river. The historical site includes an excellent museum
and interpretation center, a replica of a Caddo structure, and ceremonial
leaving the Caddo
site, return to Texas
21 and start back toward Alto,
but a few miles up the road, take a left turn by a junkyard (which
is a good place to browse for offbeat items and antiques) and Thomas
Chapel church. You'll be on a blacktop country road which will take
you past scenic farmhomes, spring-fed creeks and open pastures.
The country lane is especially scenic during the spring and fall.
Follow the road until you reach its intersection with Texas 294,
take a left and start westward.
you reach the Neches
River, turn north on Texas 23 by a roadside park. Not far from
the roadside park is the Arthur Temple Sr. Research Center, an area
maintained by the Texas Forest Service. The Center sits on land
once occupied by Fastrill,
a ghost town operated by Southern Pine Lumber Company as a logging
camp in the l940s.
Texas 23 will
take you through another stretch of rolling hills, past the communities
Store and Beulah, and back into Rusk.
a couple of good eating-places on this Sunday Drive. Dot's Cafe,
a black-owned cafe on Martin Luther King Street in Rusk,
serves some of the best soulfood in East
Texas, but Dorothy Jackson only serves luncheon meals. Ask Dorothy
for a sampling of her special hot relish--a recipe she keeps closely
guarded. Also in Rusk,
the dining room of the Thomas J. Rusk Hotel serves several excellent
dishes, including good steaks, a nice Cornish hen, and an excellent
If you like to
cook your own meals, we recommend the Foot Bridge Garden Cookbook,
which was organized and published by the Cherokee County Heritage
Association. The cookbook contains recipes for such dishes as Pepper
Jelly, Baked Black Eyed Peas, Cracklin' Bread and Old Fashioned Biscuits.
Many of the recipes date back to the l800s. For a copy, write Foot
Bridge Garden Cookbook, PO Box 590, Rusk, Texas 75785.
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Excerpt by permission of author Mr. Bob Bowman.