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History of Tyler County

During the early 19th century, white settlers happened upon both Caddoan-related Cherokees driven from the east and groups of Alabama and Coushatta Indians who traveled from Louisiana to this region. Eventually, the Cherokees were uprooted from the state by Mirabeau B. Lamar’s orders, while the Alabamas and Coushattas, who worked collectively with Sam Houston and other comrades in the area, remained.


In 1834, three Americans obtained land grants from Mexican authorities in the area, and in 1835, 34 additional men and one woman – Jane Taylor – acquired further grants. Originally, the area was organized in 1842 under the name of Menard District, “for judicial and other purposed,” from a section of Liberty County. Tyler County was officially formed on April 3, 1846 – a name that was derived from President John Tyler. Town Bluff was designated the temporary county seat in 1842, with Woodville taking over as the permanent seat in 1845. Woodville’s moniker came from George T. Wood, the man who set in motion the bill to create the county, as well as served as the second governor of Texas.

Tyler County was chiefly settled by migrants from the southern region of the U.S., many with the intention of continuing the slaveholding society they had just come from. Be that as it may, the local forests and sand proved poor for cultivating cotton, driving many farmers out quickly. Many of those who did stay in the area were poor white farmers with no slaves.


Prior to the Civil War, Tyler County’s output included the production of mainly corn, sweet potatoes, molasses and home-slaughtered animals. With 137 farms in 1850, the county continued to exist as mostly agricultural and rural through 1900, when the number of farms reached its height at nearly 1,200. With the coming of the railroads, the economic environment was altered, making possible the utilization of the area’s great timber resources. By 1890, 19 sawmills were operating in the county. With the advent of the timber and wood-related industries, the area’s population surged, reaching 10,876 in 1890.

The timber industry continued to play a large part in Tyler County’s economy through the first half of the 20th century. However, with the circumstances of the Great Depression, the county endured increasingly high unemployment, rising to 18 percent in 1940. Though World War II put to rest the economic disaster of this time, the population continued to dwindle, falling from 11,946 in the 1940s to 10,666 in 1960.

Agriculture occupied fewer workers each year after 1950, with timber sales remaining the top producer of income. By the 1980s, Tyler County was second to Polk County in the production of timber, followed by the industries of farming, lumbering, poultry processing, manufacturing, tourism and catfish production.

Tyler County has sustained a highly regarded reputation for rural peacefulness, a quiet way of life, and unmatched charm and beauty that specifically stimulates family tourism.

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