A Short History of Tyler Texas


Historic postcards from Tyler Texas ... click for a sampling of other postcards about Tyler ... click for detailsNamed for President John Tyler, the city was established on April 11, 1846 by the Texas Legislature as it also created Smith County. Tyler was designated the county seat.

A site was selected for the new town at the center of the county. Tyler has an elevation of about 544 feet, and is positioned about half-way between Dallas and Shreveport.

The county is named after General James Smith, a soldier, planter and politician originally from Spartanburg County, South Carolina. He served in the War of 1812, and eventually relocated to Nacogdoches where he operated a plantation.

Smith represented Rusk County in the Texas House of Representatives during 1846-47. When Smith County was organized, it was named in his honor. Smith, who died in 1855, is recognized with a granite historic marker and plaque on Texas Highway 64 just west of Tyler.

The rapidly growing Tyler was later incorporated in 1850, when the county already had a population of over 4,000 residents.

Farming grew quickly as farms and plantations thrived on the rich soil, and led to Tyler becoming a major commercial center of East Texas.

In the late 1800s, the railroad became another key element in the local economy. The Tyler Tap Railroad, later renamed the Texas & St. Louis Railway, was chartered in 1871 by a special act of the Twelfth Texas Legislature.

Oil fields near Tyler TexasIt later evolved into the St. Louis Southwestern Railway, commonly known as the Cotton Belt Route. Banks were formed, and commerce grew, and cotton became the main commercial crop. read more about the Tyler Tap Railroad and the Cotton Belt Route

Also, learn more about the Cotton Belt south of Tyler, and the history of Tyler-Gresham-Flint-Bullard Cotton Belt line, and the communities of Gresham, Flint and Bullard.

Tyler became a city in 1907 when it was approaching a census of about 10,000 people. Truck farms and fruit orchards were an important part of the local economy. However, a blight decimated much of the fruit industry, and by 1920 the rose growing industry had gained a major foothold in the area, and led to the creation of the world-renown Texas Rose Festival.

Another major economic stimulus arose in the early 1930s with the discovery of oil in East Texas at the Daisy-Bradford No. 3 near Joinerville and Kilgore.

Tyler's airport was dedicated in 1930 as Tyler Municipal Airport. During World War II, it was renamed in honor of 2nd Lt. Jack W. Pounds. At the end of the war, the airfield was returned to civilian use under the control of the City of Tyler, and renamed Tyler Pounds Regional Airport. Read more about the history of Tyler Pounds Airport and Stewart Airport.

Many oil companies opened facilities in Tyler, pushing the population to near 30,000 by the 1940.

World War II saw the creation of Camp Fannin northeast of Tyler.

Post-war Tyler gradually changed, and emerged, into the leading manufacturing, commercial, agricultural, and retail center of East Texas, in addition to its base in the oil, gas, and chemical industries. Tyler also is the home of numerous highly-respected educational institutions, including the University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler Junior College, and Texas College.

In May of 2014, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, Tyler's population is 100,223, a 3.4% increase from the census total of 96,900 in 2010.

Tyler Half Mile of History ... plaque honoring Texas Governor Richard B. HubbardTyler Half Mile of History ... plaque honoring Texas Governor Richard B. Hubbard

Smith County's population was reported in 2010 to be 209,714, a 20% increase from 174,706 in 2000.

Tyler Half Mile of History

Much of Tyler's history is being chonicled in the Half Mile of History, which pays tribute to people, places and events that have contributed to the history of Tyler and Smith County.

The Half Mile of History is a permanent, outdoor, half-mile loop surrounding the courthouse square in downtown Tyler, administered by the City of Tyler.

On September 27, 2016, the latest Half Mile of History marker was unveiled, honoring of H.L. and Lyda Bunker Hunt.

Read about one of the people on the loop ... Walter E. Stewart.

 

Tyler Texas Historic Postcards

People's National Bank, Tyler, TexasPostcards represent another media that enables us to visualize, and remember, the past.

We have only a relative small number in our private collection, and these are shown in the pages of the Tyler Texas Historic Postcard Collection.

Perhaps the best and most complete collection of Tyler postcards has been assembled by Robert E. Reed, Jr. We recommend you visit his site A History of Tyler Texas Through Postcards. It is part of Robert's Past Glimpses of Tyler Texas, an incredible web site that anyone with an interest in Tyler should visit.

We have also purchased, and highly recommend, Robert Reed's book entitled "Images of America: Tyler", published by Arcadia Publishing, available in many local Tyler stores, bookstores and major online book sources.

History of Tyler Pounds Airport

Tyler's airport was dedicated on June 28, 1930 as Tyler Municipal Airport. Delta began airmail service in 1934, between Dallas and Monroe Louisiana, via Tyler and Shreveport. During World War II, it was renamed in honor of Lt. Jack W. Pounds. At the end of the war, in November 1945, the airfield was returned to civilian use under the control of the City of Tyler, and renamed Tyler Pounds Regional Airport.

 

Additional Tyler Texas History Resources of Interest

Smith County Historical Society

Historic Tyler, Inc.
Heart of Tyler Main Street Program

Past Glimpses of Tyler...by Robert Reed

Marvin Methodist Church Historic MarkerMarvin Methodist Church Historic Marker

History of Tyler at The Handbook of Texas Online

Bonner-Whitaker-McClendon House Historic Estate

National Register of Historic Places - Smith County Sites

Smith County History (RootsWeb)
Tyler History (City of Tyler)
Camp Ford Historical Association

Camp Fannin

Preservation Texas
Texas Historical Commission
Texas Downtown Association
Texas Association of Museums
Texas State Preservation Board

National Trust for Historic Preservation


The site of the old Smith County Texas courthouse, looking east to the "new" courthouse
The site of the old Smith County Texas courthouse, looking east towards the current courthouse

Tyler Texas historical survey marker in the downtown square
Tyler Texas historical survey marker in the downtown square: IN AREA OPENED 1839 TO WHITE SETTLERS BY REPUBLIC OF TEXAS VICTORIES OVER CHEROKEE INDIANS WHOSE TRAILS LED THE WAY TO GOOD SPRINGS, FINE FARMLANDS, USEFUL SALINES. THE FIRST LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS NAMED THE TOWN (FOUNDED 1846) FOR PRESIDENT JOHN TYLER, WHO SIGNED THE RESOLUTION ANNEXING TEXAS TO THE UNITED STATES. ORIGINALLY A FARM MARKET, TYLER IN EARLY YEARS HAD FEW MEN OF WEALTH, BUT BY 1860 WAS KNOWN FOR GOOD SCHOOLS, CHURCHES AND CULTURED CITIZENS. SEVERAL MEN HERE RAISED AND COMMANDED TROOPS IN CIVIL WAR. AFTER MID-1863 THIS WAS TRANSPORTATION HEADQUARTERS FOR TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF THE CONFEDERACY. IT HAD AN ORDNANCE FACTORY AND WAS SITE OF CAMP FORD -- THE LARGEST P.O.W. POST WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI. IN 1870'S IMPORTANT AS SITE OF RAILROAD SHOPS AND ROUNDHOUSE. DEVELOPED INDUSTRIES, MANUFACTURING, FRUIT AND VEGETABLE PACKING, SHIPPING, EXPANDING ECONOMY. FURNISHED TEXAS WITH STATESMEN, INCLUDING GOVERNOR RICHARD B. HUBBARD (IN OFFICE 1876-1879), O.M. ROBERTS (1879-1883) AND JAMES STEPHEN HOGG (1891-1895).  UPON DISCOVERY OF NEARBY EAST TEXAS OIL FIELD IN 1931, BECAME INVESTMENT, BANKING, SERVICING CENTER. HOME OF TYLER JUNIOR COLLEGE, ANNUAL ROSE FESTIVAL. (1968)

Oakwood Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in Tyler, dating to about 1846, located just west of downtown Tyler
Oakwood Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in Tyler, dating to about 1846

 

Shown in the photo below is the Woman's Building, South Broadway Avenue, Tyler, Texas, built in 1932. In September of 2016, the Tyler Woman’s Building Inc. Board of Directors gave to the United Way of Smith County the deed and keys to the historic, 84-year-old structure. The United Way plans $2.6 million of renovations to the interior and exterior of the building, to be completed sometime in late 2017.

Shown in the photo below is the Woman's Building, South Broadway Avenue, Tyler, Texas, built in 1932. In September of 2016, the Tyler Woman’s Building Inc. Board of Directors gave to the United Way of Smith County the deed and keys to the historic, 84-year-old structure. The United Way plans $2.6 million of renovations to the interior and exterior of the building, to be completed sometime in late 2017.


 


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