The community was formerly known as "Caney Creek" and "Mitcham Chapel." An application for a named post office in 1854 under "Purdam (or Purdon)" or "Mitcham" resulted in the current name, because the other names were already in use. It is named for a Russian town.
In the 1920's coal mining became an important acivity.
The "Malakoff Heads" found in the 1930's resemble carvings of the Olmec culture. For more on the murals in Malakoff, see http://www.texasescapes.com/TOWNS/Malakoff/Malakoff.htm