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New Birmingham, Texas is an abandoned town-site in central Cherokee County, Texas, now a ghost town. New Birmingham once seemed destined to be a major industrial mecca in the heart of east Texas. Lying just off U.S. Highway 69, the site was about two miles southeast of the county seat of Rusk, Texas.
Conceived in 1887, New Birmingham was the brainchild of Anderson Blevins, a sewing machine salesman originally from Alabama. Traveling though east Texas, he became aware of copious deposits of iron ore in the area of Rusk, Texas, and having familiarity with Birmingham in his home state, was struck with the possibility of a similar industrial mecca in east Texas. Discovering that some small-scale iron processing was already occurring at Rusk Penitentiary, he approached his brother-in-law, W. H. Hamman, who enthusiastically supported the venture. Hamman was an attorney, an ex-Confederate General and a wealthy, well-established oil-man. Together, they brought in a number of local investors, formed a company to develop the idea and began taking options on ore-laden acreage. Venture capital was also raised from H. H. Wibirt of New York and Richard Coleman of St. Louis, and by 1888 the company, under the name of Cherokee Land & Iron Company, was purchasing land suitable for mining. Eventually, some 20,000 acres had been acquired and construction of a smelting plant to develop the ore was begun.
Apocryphal, almost certainly. The greater damage to the future of New Birmingham was the death of W. H. Hamman, whose money, influence and business acumen had been instrumental from the beginning. But in any case, by the end of the year the town was virtually abandoned.
An historical marker was erected at the site of New Birmingham in 1966. Tassie Belle Historical Park contains vestigial ruins of that furnace.