Brief History of Tyler County

Submitted by the Woodville Chamber of Commerce

August 10, 1999

Tyler County, with an area of 927 square miles, is located in the Southwestern part of the region commonly known as East Texas. Bordering the Northeastern section of the county is the Neches River. The county is located in the timbered section and is traversed by several creeks.

In the year 1835, Josiah Wheat was recorded as being in Texas. He received title to a league of land, two-thirds of which lay along the Turkey Creek.

In 1846, settlers inn this area held an election to select a county seat and when Josiah Wheat offered 200 acres of his land in the forks of Turkey Creek for a townsite, his offer was accepted. The county was given the name of Tyler in honor of the popular John Tyler, the recently retired president who had ushered through Congress the bill of annexation of Texas to the Union. The name Woodville, was given to the town in honor of Senator George T. Wood who introduced and urged the passage of the bill in the state legislature for the creation of the new county.

In the decade from 1850 to 1860, Tyler County doubled its population.

The labor of slaves was related to the principal source of wealth, the cotton crop. The county prospered, and new schools and churches were added. The Woodville Academy was established in 1849 and in 1857 Woodville was incorporated as a city. S. Hough was elected the first mayor.

The Civil War ended the era of economic stability. Tyler County boys found it difficult to make a living until 1882, the Sabine & East Texas Railroad put down a line in the North end of the County and the Trinity and Sabine Railroad reached Colmesneil. Transportation and rail made it possible to manufacture yellow pine lumber.

The prosperity based on the sawmills and railroads threatened the future of Woodville as Colmesneil, the junction of the two railroads, wanted the county seat served to that location, However, Woodville built a new courthouse is 1892 which eased the pressure.

With the railroads, Eastern interests began to have a major influence on the economic life.

Again in 1910, the population in Tyler County began to decline. Farming was a failure and livestock and row cropping became the main agricultural pursuits. The oil industry did contribute to the economy of Tyler county was the installation of the pipeline and the booster station at Chester.

By 1941 and World War II, timber and farming again became important especially to the war effort.

In 1929, modern Woodville began when J. E. Wheat was selected mayor, During his administration a city ordinance prohibiting livestock running at large was passed and also the levy and collection of city taxes.

In 1935 the courthouse was remodeled and by 1938 other improvements, such as an $80,000 gas system and fire department was started.

Also, in 1938, U. S. Highway 190 was constructed and the first Dogwood Festival was staged. In 1950 a twenty-five bed hospital was erected and Dam B Lake was completed.

By 1960 the chief industries were forestry and agriculture, but manufacturing was emerging with the Tyler County Industrial Corporation. An airport was under construction and there were ten miles of paved streets in Woodville. Modern school systems were built throughout the county, a county library, many churches and two newspapers.

Under a comprehensive plan, other developments were authorized and at present the county has a seventy-two unit motel, three museums and other phases of the plan are in operation.

In 1967 a Natural Gas System was installed in Colmesneil, the City of Chester was incorporated and J. O. Nash was elected as their first Mayor.

On January 4, 1968 KVLL Radio Station, located in Woodville, went on the air, an extension was being added to the Tyler County Hospital to give them a total of 49 beds. A new nursing home for extensive care patients was built, a low rent housing project of 56 units was completed by the City of Woodville and a recreation area including a 9 hole Golf Course and Swimming Pool was under construction. Also the airstrip at the Tyler County Airport had been extended to 3500', hard surfaced and lighted.

Many retirees have found homes in Tyler County and tourists have fund the natural beauty of our land and lakes a vacation land.

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Tyler County is Rich in History

A few of the many interesting and entertaining historical landmarks to be found in Tyler Count are shown below

We hope that this short review of our rich historical background will help you make the best possible use of your visit with us by allowing you to see the most of want interests you in our beautiful county.

Peach Tree Village - This is the place where the Alabama-Coushatta Indians settled earlier in our history

Valentine Burch Centennial Marker - A memorial to Valentine Burch who served during the Texas Revolution.

Enloe Mill - this is the mill where the limber for the first Tyler County courthouse was milled.

Enloe Mill - This is the mill where the lumber for the first Tyler County Courthouse was milled.

Enloe Home - was built in 1852 by David Enloe a teacher and owned the sawmill.

Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation.

Tolar Log Cabin - is located on the grounds of Heritage Garden Village and is an example of an early Tyler county country home.

James Barclay Home - this is the oldest home in the county built by the first Indian agent (county judge, congressman, sheriff)

Fort Teran Centennial Marker

Fort Teran Park - Fort Teran was he site of the first Mexican Fort in Tyler county

Tyler County marker\11 Woodville Academy - One of 40 colleges charted in Texas between 1845 and 1861.

Lt. Col. Phillip A. work Marker - this is a tribute to Lt. Col. Phillip A. Work who was an officer during the Confederacy.

Josiah E. Wheat Home - Josiah Wheat was an early settler in the Big thicket who gave the land for the location of the county seat of Tyler county, Woodville.

Josiah wheat Grave Marker - The marker is located in Magnolia Cemetery in Woodville as a tribute to Dr. Wheat.

John Wheat Grave Marker - This marker is a tribute to John Wheat who was an early pioneer in Tyler County. It is located in Magnolia Cemetery in Woodville.

Action young Grave Marker - Located in magnolia Cemetery in Woodville, this marker is a tribute to an early circuit riding Methodist preacher.

Bethel Baptist church - The site was the home of the first Baptist church in Tyler County. It is now the First Baptist church of Woodville.

Allan Shivers Museum - this museum houses the memorabilia of Allan Shivers, governor of Texas from 1947 to 1957.

Town Bluff Centennial Marker - Town Bluff was the Original seat of government for Tyler County and an important river port.

MT Hope lodge No 121 - Mt. Hope Lodge No 121 A. F. & A. M. is the oldest Masonic Lodge in Tyler county. See the second building at Chester. See the first building at Mt. Zion 4 miles south of Chester toward Woodville. That building was moved there around 127 years ago.

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Tyler County History

Woodsman guide To Tyler County January 22, 1987

Tyler County's history is long and varied. The trail - road would be a misleading term - from Nacogdoches to Anahuac and the Spanish mission at Orcoquisac led through Tyler County, crossing the Neches at the site where Tort Teran would later be located. Indians, Spanish troops and missionaries, and invading filibusters from the United State, passed down this trail even before Stephen F. Austin began organizing his colony in 1820.

In 1830 Fort Teran was built and manned by Spanish soldiers. It remained as a fortress, supposedly keeping out further Anglo settlement, until 1835, when all Spanish forces were encouraged to leave by the local volunteer forces.

By 1830, settlers were being ranted land rights in what is now Tyler Country. Wyatt hanks settled at Town Bluff about 1832 and began operating a ferry there. Gradually settlers spread up and down the Niches bottomland, farming cotton. Tyler county men served at San jacinto, and with Capt. Cheshire's band of jasper Volunteers.

After the Texas Revolution, settlement increased steadily with Town Bluff as the major population center in the county.

In 1841, a larger area, of which Tyler County is now a part, was created as the Menard District by an act of the Texas Congress. Tyler County was originally created however, for judicial purposes only , and the courts of the Republic held that a county so creaked was unconstitutional. After a few months operation, with town Bluff as the county Seat, the county organization was abandoned.

In 1846 the Texas Legislature created the county again, with a reduced area, giving it the name of Tyler in honor of then-President of the United States John Tyler. This bill named six commissioners to select two or more sites to be voted upon for the County seat. Dr. Josiah wheat's survey at the present site of Woodville in the forks of Turkey Creek was selected for the county seat and still remains.

The new townsite was surveyed and laid out accordingly in lots and blocks. The names of Menard places of that era are preserved in the name of the town and its principal streets. George t. Wood was the senator and N. B. Charlton was the member o the lower house that passed the bill creating the county.

The town was named Woodville for the senator, and the street immediately west of the courthouse was named Charlton for the representative. The street immediately south of the courthouse was named wheat Street in honor of the good doctor whose survey was selected for the county Seat. The main street, then as now, was the road to town Bluff, and named Bluff Street. Another important area of the county was Peach tree Village, the first Texas encampment of the Alabama Indians.

Tyler county's first courthouse was completed Jan 30, 1849. The second courthouse, a two-story frame building was erected in 1856. In 1891, that courthouse was removed and a three-story brick structure with a massive dome and clock was built. After serving the county for more than 40 years, the many flues and pointed gables were removed in 1936, and the building took on the appearance it bears today.

Fort Teran Harkens to By Gone Spanish Era

East Texas Echo

In 1829, when Manuel Mier y Teran carried out a tour of inspection for the Mexican government in East Texas, there was no recorded white habitation in what is now Tyler county.

One result of Terns' journey was a Bustamente's Decree of April 6, 1839, forbidding American immigrants from the state to the East to settle in Mexico territory. T enforce this decree forts were to be built, one of which was to the established at the Neches River crossing of the old Nacogdocehes-Orcoquisac Road, three miles west of present day Rockland in Tyler county, were immigration into Tejas continued to be heavy.

General Teran recommended that Peter Ellis Bean help saved Texas for Mexico by establishing this fort, which was to bear his name as head of the Mexican government's commission in East Texas.

Bean and his Mexican troops, a command of 50 men, occupied the fort from 1830 to 1834, keeping watch on difficulties between the Mexican government and would -be American settlers. But, when the troubles between existing Texans and Mexico began in earnest in 1834, Bean and his men left the fort and headed south, leaving a population of only ten people and a handful of mostly abandoned houses, according to the journal of Thomas S. McFarland, a surveyor of the Ayish bayou District

At this time s. T. belt began operating a trading post at the fort site, and the settlement of Teran continued as a trading and shipping point until the railroad came to Tyler and Angelina Counties in the 1800's. Steamboats continued to land near the fort, which was at the head of navigation on the Neches, until 1882. After the counties of Tyler, Polk and Angelina and their new seats of government were established in the late 1840's, however, the Old Spanish Road from Orgoquisac (Liberty) to Nacogdoches became less and less frequently used.

Fort Teran, thus, is accepted as the oldest settlement of record in Tyler County. The fort itself has log since disappeared, but the site bears a state marker, located 11 miles North east of Chester off FM 1745.

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