New Birmingham

NEW BIRMINGHAM, TEXAS . New Birmingham, once called the "Iron Queen of the Southwest," was a short-lived industrial town near the junction of U.S. Highway 69 and Farm Road 343, two miles southeast of Rusk in central Cherokee County. It was founded by Anderson B. Blevins, a sewing-machine salesman from Alabama who traveled on business to Cherokee County in the mid-1880s. Impressed by the large iron ore deposits in the area and the already operating iron foundry at the Rusk Penitentiary , Blevins envisioned an industrial center comparable to Birmingham in his home state. He returned to the East and with the aid of a number of capitalists, including James A. Mahoney, future New York mayor Robert Van Wyck, and his brother-in-law William Harrison Hamman, founded the Cherokee Land and Iron Company (renamed the New Birmingham Iron and Land Company in 1889). In 1888 Blevins obtained options on 20,000 acres of land, much of it with rich iron ore deposits. A mining operation was established almost immediately, and within a short time work began on a fifty-ton blast furnace (named Tassie Belle in honor of Blevins's wife) and on rolling and planing mills.

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