New London is on State Highway 42 twelve miles south of Kilgore and 122 miles southeast of Dallas in Rusk County. As a result of the westward expansion of the southern frontier, a post office, called London, was started here in 1855. With some interruptions it served the area until 1876. The next year a school, now named West Rusk, was established in London. From 1855 to 1930 London depended upon agriculture. Farmers grew principally cotton and corn and supplemented their income with watermelons, peaches, and tomatoes. They shipped these products from the community depot, known as Norfolk, on the Henderson and Overton Branch Railroad, a spur of the International-Great Northern.
In 1930 Columbus M. (Dad) Joiner drilled the first well in the East Texas oilfield a few miles from the community, making it a boomtown. Residents built a modern school, churches, and homes. A new post office was established there in 1931. When community residents found that a London post office had already been established in Kimble County, they used the name New London. In 1931 Humble Oil and Refining Company moved 100 families from the Corsicana oilfield and their district headquarters to New London. Refineries were constructed. Oil companies provided jobs, housing, electricity, and free gas and water; they also built parks and community buildings. Nothing remained unchanged, and many landowners became wealthy. The London school expanded and consolidated with smaller schools. On March 18, 1937, however, the school exploded, in the worst school disaster in United States history (see NEW LONDON SCHOOL EXPLOSION). Within a year the facilities had been rebuilt. New London continued to boom until World War II.
During the 1950s oil companies changed their objectives. The East Texas oilfield began to decline. In the New London area, the drilling of wells was replaced by the care of pipelines and the installation of pumps. Derricks no longer dotted the skyline. Oil companies abolished the housing camps and utilities. Some people moved away, but others stayed and built homes. New London entered a new era. Before the discovery of oil, permanent residents were those people who derived their income from agriculture and to a lesser extent from local business and education. Now oilfield workers, previously considered transients, became permanent residents. In 1963 New London became incorporated and began providing municipal services. The population level remained relatively stable-899 in 1970 and 942 in 1980. Many residents were retired oilfield workers or had jobs with oilfield service companies, the nursing home, or West Rusk High School. In the early 1990s New London had twenty-six businesses and a population of 916. By 2000 the population was 987 with twenty-three businesses.