The “Rainey Hotel”, earlier known as the “Stewart Hotel”, was located in Woodville at the corner of Bluff and Beaver Streets. A January 14, 1925, deed conveyed the hotel’s title from Mollie Stewart to S. L. Rainey. Located diagonally across from the depot and facing the railroad tracks, the hotel had 27 bedrooms, a large lobby, dining room, kitchen and two wrap-around porches. L.M. Feagin, Dave Mann, Joe Shillings and others roomed there, sleeping on an upstairs screened porch in the summer time. During Court sessions judges, lawyers and others involved in court proceedings crowded the hotel. Traveling salesmen, called Drummers, arrived on passenger trains and stayed at the hotel. Ettle Rainey drove them all around the county in a Model T “jitney” so they could peddle their wares. Delicious meals, served boarding-house style, drew customers from across the region – especially for Sunday dinner after church.
In 1882 commercial railroads stretched across Texas and privately owned steam locomotives rolled through piney woods in Tyler County on “portable” logging tram roads.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Tyler County Historical Commission created a non-profit corporation, Tyler County Heritage Society, so that charitable contributions might be received and acknowledged.
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.
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.