Aragorn Storm Miller

RUSK, JOHN CLEVELAND (1829–1898). John Cleveland Rusk, businessman, planter, state legislator, and Confederate officer, was born in Habersham County, Georgia, on December 9, 1829. He was the son of Thomas Jefferson Rusk and Mary Frances (Cleveland) Rusk. His father immigrated with his family to Texas in 1835 and was a prominent citizen and politician throughout the colonial, Republic, and early statehood period of Texas history. John Rusk was raised in the region of Nacogdoches County. He was twice married. His first marriage, on November 1, 1849, was to Harriet Ann Patton. This couple had one son and three daughters. 

Confederate Service Record for John Cleveland Rusk
Confederate Service Record for John Cleveland Rusk. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Grave of John Cleveland Rusk
Grave of John Cleveland Rusk. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Rusk was active in the business and politics of the Nacogdoches area. Throughout the 1850s he operated various cotton-growing and river ferry businesses in partnership with his father-in-law Robert Patton. On June 23, 1851, he joined Milam Masonic Lodge No. 2. Upon the death of his father in 1857, Rusk and his brother were appointed administrators of the Rusk estate, which was worth $40,000 and included twenty slaves and a library consisting of more than 1,000 volumes. Around this time he engaged in farming and planting on the family homestead. In 1861 Rusk was elected representative for Nacogdoches and Angelina counties to the House of the Ninth Texas Legislature, and served on the Military Affairs Committee and State Affairs Committee. Following the death of his first wife, Rusk married Cornelia E. Garrison on December 11, 1862, and the couple had four children. On February 1, 1862, Rusk volunteered for service in the Confederate army and served in Company A, Seventeenth Texas Cavalry. Following the war, Rusk returned to farming and planting in Nacogdoches County. The 1870 census listed him as a school teacher. In 1874 Rusk relocated to Colfax in Van Zandt County, and served for several years as a justice of the peace in Owlet Green. A Presbyterian, Rusk joined Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Canton. He died on February 24, 1898, in Van Zandt County and was buried at Colfax Cemetery. Cornelia E. Rusk applied for a Confederate pension, which was approved on October 17, 1899.


W. T. Block, “Two Brothers and a Brother-in-Law in East Texas: Moses L. Patton, Robert S. Patton, and Radford Berry (, accessed July 17, 2014. Lois Foster Blount, “A Brief Study of Thomas J. Rusk Based on His Letters to His Brother, David, 1835–1856,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 34 (January 1931; April 1931) Carolyn Reeves Ericson, Nacogdoches, Gateway to Texas: A Biographical Directory (2 vols., Fort Worth: Arrow-Curtis Printing, 1974, 1987). Carolyn Reeves Ericson, The People of Nacogdoches County in the Civil War (Lufkin, Texas: Pineywood Printing, 1980). Sydney S. Johnson, Texans Who Wore the Gray (Tyler, Texas: Sydney S. Johnson, 1907).

Aragorn Storm Miller

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Aragorn Storm Miller, "RUSK, JOHN CLEVELAND," accessed August 24, 2019,

Uploaded on July 17, 2014. Modified on January 8, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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