Rusk County Academy was the first officially authorized school in Rusk County. A directive from the Republic of Texas Congress at the time of the formation of Rusk County, on January 16, 1843, provided guidelines for the establishment of the school. On February 1, 1845, the school was incorporated by the Senate and House of Representatives. The "Act for the Incorporation of Rusk County Academy" provided for the school to be established at Henderson and appointed thirteen trustees, including James Smith and William B. Ochiltree. The school building was built by James W. Flanagan on what came to be known as College Street. It was a sound, two-story brick structure completed by 1846; it was apparently destroyed by a cyclone in 1866.