The tour through the oldest town in Texas continues and this stop brings us to Zion Hill Baptist Church and Historical Oak Grove Cemetery located on Lanana Street. You will notice in one of the pictures below that cornerstone of the Zion Hill Baptist Church reads "Erected in 1914". That's a long time ago! The architect was Dietrich Rulf, a native of Oldenburg, Germany who moved to Nacogdoches. His Victorian and Gothic architecture style is evident from every angle. I read somewhere that Rulf designed this church to mimic the one in which he was married in Germany. I don't know that to be a fact --just something i read. The church closed it's doors in the 70's but is currently undergoing remodeling by the City of Nacogdoches.
Our next stop is Historical Oak Grove Cemetery which is next door to Zion Hill. I found it interesting that although the church and the burial grounds are on the same lot, only a handful of African-Americas are buried here. This is odd because the entire congregation at Zion Hill was African-American. I'm sure there is a reason embeded in the historical fabric of our State, I just don't know what it is and I don't feel like googling. What is really neat about this Cemetery is that 4 signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence are buried here! In fact, lots of famous men and women that played crucial roles in Texas history are buried here. Those of you that know me, know that I LOVE TEXAS! It was really neat to come to this cemetery and visit the resting place of our great states forefathers and not just on any ol' day but on TEXAS INDEPENDENCE DAY!
This is the burial plot of Thomas Rusk. He was born in South Carolina but was so Taken with Nacogdoches that he moved his family and became a citizen of Mexico in 1835. Remember, parts of Texas were provinces of Mexico! Rusk joined Stephen F. Austin's independence movement and was named inspector general of the army. He signed the Texas Declaration of Independence as a delegate from Nacogdoches and was appointed secretary of war. Rusk fought with Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto and was briefly commander in chief of the army of the Republic of Texas. After the war, Rusk was again appointed secretary of war and major general of the Texas Militia. Elected to the Republic of Texas Congress, he chaired the House Military Committee. In 1840, he retired from his position as chief justice of the State Supreme Court to return to a successful law practice in Nacogdoches, but he was called again to the militia in 1843 and was soon elected major general by the Congress. Returning home in June, Rusk focused his energies on the establishment of Nacogdoches University. Following his term as president of the convention of 1845 to annex Texas to the United States, Rusk was elected to a U. S. Senate seat in 1846. He and Senator Sam Houston established the southwestern boundary of Texas, and he promoted construction of a transcontinental railroad route through Texas. Mary Rusk died of tuberculosis in 1856, and an ill and despondent T. J. Rusk took his own life in 1857. History courtesy of FortTours.com.