Rusk History 1934
There is no roster of early Rusk teachers. The following names, found here and there, are only a part of them.
The first school was taught by the Presbyterian minister, Reverend J. B. Harris. In 1849, H. Clarke was advertising the Female Institute, which she "intended to make permanent." She had "no extra prodigious feats in rearing the tender thought to herald forth to the world, but she believes herself a competent in structress and will endeavor to prove her faith by her works."
The fine arts course included instruction in piano, drawing, painting and embroidery. Each pupil furnished her own chair and table.
Prior to 1850 John B. Mitchell and Abraham Gildewell also had schoolrooms. In 1854, H. Lane taught just northeast of the original town site. Miss Jane Tullar and Mrs. Lizzie Mullins were among those teaching in the two-story building on Lot 9, Block 20. Mrs. A. H. Shanks and Mrs. Margaret Wade taught together in a home school in the east part of town. Mrs. Mary Baker was among those teaching in the Methodist Church. Just after the war Colonel W. T. Yeomans and H. I. Wilson taught in the Old School Presbyterian Church.
A Mrs. Thompson, who taught for a number of years in a number of places, seems to have been the outstanding primary teacher of pioneer days, the consensus of opinion apparently having been that "if you can't start under Mrs. Thompson, there's no use starting." Today, however, the only other definite description of this estimable lady is "she was very fond of pork and turnips."
Perhaps the center of learning for the oldest citizens of today was the Rusk Male and Female Academy, first known as the Stephens and Carter Academy, located on Henderson Street, Lot 2, Block 9, now the site of the Alex Ford residence. This two-story structure, quite pretentious for its day, was built by Logan D. Stephens, who taught the first session in 1851.
Either associated with Stephens or succeeding him when he moved to Rusk County in 1852 were Professor and Mrs. J. J. Carter, highly educated Georgians who had settled in Rusk in the late '40s. In 1855 Professor Carter was elected principal of Tyler University. Although frequently changing owners, the building was used for school purposes until torn down in the '80s. Only the following fragments of its history are available.
In 1859, Mrs. E. F. Mullins opened Rusk Female Academy, in which her husband, a Rusk attorney, taught the advanced classes in Latin and French. In 1866, Mrs. J. J. Carter, who had just moved back to Rusk after some ten years absence, announced the opening of a "Female School" in the following advertisement:
"From her long experience and former success as a teacher, the principal flatters herself that she will give entire satisfaction to all her patrons. No pains will be spared in securing a thorough and rapid advancement of pupils committed to her care. Discipline will be mild but strict."