On December 17, 1891 in the Commissioners Court Minutes there was “ordered by the Court that a suitable clock be placed in the Court House Building’.
Established in 1846, Tyler County resides among the Big Thicket National Preserve in southeastern Texas and has been the home of several diverse cultures and history. Tyler County Historical Commission is responsible for the identification and preservation of Tyler County’s historical and cultural resources and is dedicated to creating awareness and appreciation of historic preservation, its’ benefits, and uses. Explore the history that has been catalogued and become part of the story of our county by telling us your story so that it may also be preserved and be part of the legacy of Tyler County.
In 1866 Robert Tolar built this log home which was later converted to a "cook house." Here family meals were prepared over an open fireplace with a "mud cat" chimney until 1960. In 1964 the Heritage Society accepted the Tolar Kitchen as an exhibit for Heritage Village.
In the Spring of 1929, the Neches River flooded out of its banks... isolating several small communities such as Woodville and Colmesneil. Residents in those towns began calling for bread but there was no means of transportation.
Through the years East Texas paper mills have generated a continual demand for pulpwood chips. At the same time, timber growers needed to manage their forests by thinning out the smaller trees so that larger trees would grow faster.
Captain James G. Collier conducted the survey laying out the new road between Town Bluff and the chosen location. That road became the main east-west thoroughfare in the new town, Woodville, and was called “Bluff” Street.
Zachariah Cowart Collier built a general merchandise store as part of the Town Bluff complex in 1863. He and his family served the needs of overland and river travelers until the late 1920’s.
In Book ‘E’ of the Tyler County Commissioner’s Court for the year 1892 (in February), J. Dallas Collier is instructed by the court to purchase a ‘Seth Thomas Clock No. 16 Town Clock’.
The original Tyler County Highschool burned in 1924 causing students to hold classes in churches and the courthouse, until taxpayers provided the second building.
Former Governor Allan Shivers purchased the chapel and Kirby home property and presented it as a gift to Tyler County. Today, a Christian encampment, Camp Ta-Ku-La surrounds the chapel and the Kirby home and provides maintenance for those structures. The camp’s name is taken for the Indian phrase meaning peach tree – ta-ku-la.
Before the age of aerial surveillance and satellite GPS maps, fire towers gave a vantage point for protecting the county's greatest natural resource - pine and hardwood forests.
Henry T. Scott High School in Woodville celebrated its 1947 Homecoming with a parade on Saturday and a spirited football game played on the shared Kirby High School field.
As an attorney, oil baron and capitalist, he owned thousands of acres and dozens of sawmill camps in Texas and Louisiana. His enterprises provided jobs for over 16,000 men and women.
Turpentine Jim” McFarley Brown migrated from Florida to Alabama, and finally, in 1914, to Spurger, Texas. The area’s long leaf pine provided the pine sap Brown distilled into marketable turpentine.
John Henry Kirby, local attorney, oil baron, and capitalist, endeared himself to his friends with his annual Christmas letters and frequent gifts of Bibles, which he personally inscribed.
Rev. Sam Mann baptized John T. Kirby whose son, John Henry Kirby, commissioned Russian artist, Boris Bernhard Gordon to record the event with a painting to be hung in Peach Tree Village Hall when it was built in 1912.
Shivers and his wife, Marialice, acquired the historic R. A. Cruse home which was slated for demolition. They arranged for it to be moved, restored, and furnished as a museum holding papers and artifacts from his years of public service.
Wade Best served as a cook for the Civilian Conservation Corps unit stationed in Woodville, until he went to work at Levingston Shipbuilding Company in Orange and finally joined the U.S. Navy to serve in Japan during World War II.
Dr. John Gardner, Dr. D.A. Mann, and two nurses, traveled 80 miles by any convenience available to make a house call when the Neches was 14 feet above normal, in order to save a patient.
S. H. Reid offered a complete stock of household and farming supplies on West Bluff Street in Woodville. Ready-made clothing items hung in the display windows, while rolls of wire rested on the sidewalk.
Brian Shivers, the Governor's son, followed the family tradition of providing visionary leadership. He broke ground on February 20, 2010, for an expansion to the Allan Shivers Library-Museum.
In 1882 commercial railroads stretched across Texas and privately owned steam locomotives rolled through piney woods in Tyler County on “portable” logging tram roads.
Carl Goolsbee, together with his wife the former Ella Pedigo and his brother Tom, operated the Goolsbee Store in Warren from the time he bought Warren Lumber Company until he sold the stock to Archie Spurlock in 1954.
Oscar Branch Colquitt – 25th governor of Texas, Mrs. Bessie Kirby Stewart (JHK’s daughter) and Mrs. Douglas Burnett of Houston at the dedication of Peach Tree Hall
Beginning in 1920, Scott worked with P. I. Hunter to plan for a real school building. He solicited financial support from community members and his own earnings, which resulted in the Henry T. Scott School being built in the early 1930’s
Steel gangs performed the hardest work at logging sites. Workers knew as they laid the cross ties and rails at one location that it was just a matter of time before they would undo their work and relocate the whole scene to a new site.
A few miles south of the confluence of Angelina and Neches Rivers, near the original site of Town Bluff, Dam B regulates the flow of water to the Lower Neches Valley.
Originally called by some (including Judge James E. Wheat who described the project in a 1952 Dogwood Festival publication) the Town Bluff Dam, the working name for the project caught on with locals.
Tyler County Historical Commission created a non-profit corporation, Tyler County Heritage Society, so that charitable contributions might be received and acknowledged.
In 1936 Harold David hauled 300-year-old logs in an open-cab truck called a "muley." Twenty-first century logs go to the mills at twenty-two to twenty-eight inches in diameter.
For centuries Caddoan, Alabama, and Coushatta Indians called the Tyler County area home and then settlers, predominantly from the southern United States, arrived before even the Texas Revolution. The people of Tyler County have endured through much, and their stories and the stories about places of historical importance have been catalogued in our online museum.
Educational resources and opportunities are available to expand the knowledge of the history and cultures or Tyler County. In the past fieldtrips have been organized, demonstrations provided, and lesson plans created to assist anyone who may be interested. If you are a county educator, please reach out to us and request more information about the educational experiences the Tyler County Historical Commission has available.
The Texas Historical Commission’s historical marker program commemorates the historical importance of individuals and sites that impacted local and state history. Among the historical landmarks found in Tyler County are markers for former governor Allan Shivers, the W.T. Colmesneil House, Doucette Union Church, and many more honoring the places and people that have resided here. If you would like to explore the areas landmarks we have a gallery and a map of the areas historical markers.
Tyler County has over 100 hundred cemeteries ranging from small private plots to larger public hollowed grounds. Many of the members of the Tyler County Historical Commission have researched, excavated, and catalogued these sites. If you would like to explore the locations of the recorded cemeteries, we have a map available and are looking for volunteers to help maintain and preserve these sites.
Chester is located in the northwestern part of Tyler County, 13 miles northwest of Woodville on US Highway 287 at the intersection of Farm Road 1745 (N & S). The townsite is part of a five league grant made to Gavino Aranjo on the old Spanish Trail road from Nacogdoches to Liberty by the Mexican government in 1828. The town was named after the 21st president of the United States, Chester A. Arthur, about 1883 at the time when the Trinity and Sabine Railway routed its western line from Colmesneil through the area.
Colmesneil is located in north-central Tyler County, about 9 miles north of Woodville, at the intersection of U.S. Highway 69 and Farm Road 256. Colmesneil began in about 1882 with the crossing of two railroad lines: the Texas & New Orleans (T&NO) that ran between Rockland in northern Tyler County to Beaumont, and the Trinity & Sabine that ran west from Colmesneil to Trinity, and became the railroad center for Tyler County. The town was named after one of the first conductors on the T&NO, William T. Colmesneil, who bought a town lot there in 1883.
Doucette is located in central Tyler County, 3 miles north of Woodville on U.S. Highway 69. A community began to form there in about 1890 around a sawmill and was first known as Carrolls' Switch. After the first year of operation, Carrolls sold to William McCready and P. A. "Pete" Doucette, for whom the community was renamed. At other times Pete Doucette owned sawmills in Woodville and Sour Lake, and he was a contract logger along Village Creek as well as the Neches River. McCready established the first post office in 1893 and became the first postmaster. This was the beginning of a succession of owners of the sawmill, elevating Doucette to one of the leading towns in Southeast Texas between about 1900-1930. During the 1920s Doucette had its largest population—about 1,800—along with a drugstore, bank, railroad station, commissary, and post office. Active organizations included the Masons, Woodmen of the World, and the Boy Scouts. The last sawmill operation ceased in 1944. Following the sawmill days, Doucette's population in 2000 had dropped to about 130.
Located in extreme southeast Tyler County on Farm to Market Road 92, about a 30-mile drive from Woodville. Details of Fred's earliest beginnings may be lost to time but we do know that a post office was established in 1881, and Wiley Cunningham was the postmaster. In 1883 the community was composed of a general store, a school, and two churches, and Fred's population was about 30 but by 1913 it had risen to 75. Cotton and hides were the principal commodities shipped from Fred back then. By the late 1960s Fred's population had grown to 349 residents, but had declined to about 240 in 2000.
Located in south central Tyler County, eight miles south of Woodville along U.S. Routes 69/287. The Hillister post office as well as several businesses and churches are located near the junction of these highways with FM 1013. Hillister was one of the numerous towns that sprang up in Tyler County with the advent of the lumber industry and the railroads. The origin of the town’s name is a puzzle. It could be that the town was originally deemed ‘Hollister’, after a Texas and New Orleans Railroad Company official or the name may have been two sawmill operators named Hallister. Hillister may be a misspelling or a compromise.
Located among the tall pine and hardwood forest of East Texas on U.S. Highway 69/287, seven miles south of Woodville. Development of Ivanhoe began in the early 1960s as a family recreational community for camping, horseback riding, hunting and fishing. Situated on 2,500 acres of gently rolling hills, Ivanhoe has five private lakes and twelve parks.
Located in southeastern Tyler County, at the intersection of Farm to Market Roads 1013 and 92, about a 20-mile drive from Woodville. Spurger is about 3 miles west of the Neches River, which was called "Snow River" by the Hasinai Indians. The town's name was said to have originated from a mispronunciation of the surname "Spurgeon".
Located in south-central Tyler County, off U.S. Highway 69/287 and County Road 1550 about 13 miles south of Woodville. The town was born when Alexander Young of Warren, Pennsylvania, arrived in 1882 to establish a sawmill on the Texas & New Orleans' newly built railway that ran between Rockland on the northern edge of Tyler County southward to Beaumont.
Located near the geographical center of the county, encompassing approximately 3 square miles and crossed by U.S. Highways 69, 190, and 287. Formation of Tyler County was attributed to the efforts of then-Senator George T. Wood, who became the second governor of Texas in 1847, and N. B. Charlton, a member of the lower House who represented the county in the legislature.
The Tyler County Historical Commission hopes that you will join us in preserving and building upon the legacy of those who have come before us so those who come after can be inspired and grow to leave their own legacy.