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A Brief History of Tyler County

Hartwell Davis
Published by in Wheat Relatives ·
This article was 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 with 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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Hartwell Taylor Davis, Ed.S., MA, M.Min
Oviedo, FL  32765
(407) 285-6644
htpauldavis@outlook.com
pdavis@hartwelldavis.com
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