Rusk History 1934
Two pioneer hotels stood high in public favor. The Bracken House, known in the '40s as the Union Hotel and later temporarily operated as the Irby, Thompson and Rusk hotels, stood on the still popular southeast corner of Block No. 10, the present Ford Station site. In the early '50s the Cherokee Hotel was opened near the southwest corner of the public square by Barnum Ozment and operated in turn by Alfred Fox and William T. Long until the '90s. The house still stands, known as the Lang building.
The first brick hotel was the Comer-Fariss Hotel, built in 1885. Five years later Theodore Miller erected the Acme Hotel on the Bracken House site. Opening with a grand banquet and ball, it enjoyed a wealthy patronage in the boom days of the iron rush.
Business activities center around the courthouse square. The first merchants were on the north side (Lots 6 and 9), Granville J. Carter and Theron L. Philleo carrying stocks of general merchandise, including liquor. On the south end of the west side Givens & Haydon had a grocery and saloon in 1847. First Mondays were trades days on which farmers gathered in the village to exchange surplus products and stray animals and incidentally gathered around the hotel and saloon to exchange news.
Among other firms existing prior to 1850 were Allan A. Cameron & Company; Able, Brittain & Parsons; Oglesby & Mongold. Merchants advertising in the early '50s included B. F. Rountree, Varnum Ozment, James Rowe, John K. McGrew, Osgood & Jennings, Dickinson & Sterne, R. B. Martin & Brother, William A. Morrison, B. Miller, Schmeder & Company and John Findley.
Cicero Broome had "a large and extensive gin and mill factory, keeping constantly on hand cotton gins and mills, wheat fans and threshers, and furniture made in the cabinet shop," situated northwest of the original town site in what was called Broome Town. It has been remarked that gin machinery in those days was made of wood, not iron.
Among the new firms in the later '50s were W. S. Parks, Cramer & Oppenheimer, B. W. McEachern, J. M. Jones & Company, Casper Renn Wholesale and Retail Drug Store, Renn & Veitch Family Grocery and Provision House, and E. W. Bush. Many of the stores had barrooms.
Advertisements in the '60s included the following new firms : J. C. Francis & Son; Miller & Williams (wholesale and retail) ; Boyd, Frazer & Parks ; S. B. Barron; Hicks, Aycock & Mallard; Philleo & Herndon; J. J. Mallard; S. J. Lewis & Company; Gammage & Reed; Whitescarver, Hughes & Company (gunsmiths and cabinet makers) ; and the Cherokee Iron Works (manufacturing plows "unsurpassed by any northern make"). In 1874 the Tillotson & Stallings furniture, wagon and buggy factory offered to exchange its products for country produce. Its motto was, "Live and let live."