Stephen F. Austin State University

Tyler County

Tyler County is located in southeastern Texa. The county seat is Woodville. Caddo Indians lived in the area until Europeans entered East Texas in the eighteenth century. Present-day Tyler County was property of the Mexican government until 1824, when the land passed to Jane Tyler as a land grant. Texas formed Tyler County in 1846 and the namesake is President John Tyler. The namesake of Woodville is George T. Wood, who served as the state's second governor and helped found Tyler County.

Poor soils prevented the growing of cotton, so farmers produced corn, sweet potatoes, and raised livestock. On the eve of the Civil War, farmers faced the prospect of poverty and substandard lands. However, unlike other counties in East Texas, most families did not own slaves, but this did not prevent Tyler County from joining the Confederacy.

The time from Reconstruction to the Great Depression represented a time of expansion. The entrance of the MKT railroad in the 1880s, timber, and cotton farming each contributed to building a financially stable economy. The Great Depression devastated the economy and created 18 percent unemployment in 1940 until New Deal programs created more jobs that rebuilt the county's infrastructure. Loss of property and depleted soils resulted in people leaving the area temporarily. However, after World War II and through the next fifty years, Tyler County's economy stabilized with the resurgence of logging.


Museum/Historic Site


Text: Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association.