Tyler, the county seat of Smith County, is one of the leading cities of East Texas. It is ninety-nine miles southeast of Dallas at the junctions of U.S. highways 69 and 271 and State highways 14, 31, 64, 110, and 155. The city was authorized on April 11, 1846, when the Texas legislature voted to establish Smith County and a corresponding county seat. The townsite, located near the geographic center of the county, was selected by a panel of commissioners appointed by the legislature and was named for President John Tyler in recognition of his support for admitting Texas to the United States. On February 6, 1847, commissioners purchased a 100-acre site from Edgar Pollett for $150, and a townsite was laid out in twenty-eight blocks around a central square. A log courthouse on the north side of the square served as the meeting hall and church. Another log courthouse was built in 1847 on the center of the Tyler square; it was replaced in 1852, when a new, larger brick courthouse was constructed on the same site. A Methodist church was organized in 1846, and the First Baptist Church was established in 1848. McDonald Lorance served as the first mayor. Tyler was incorporated on January 29, 1850, and instituted an aldermanic form of government. A Masonic lodge was organized in 1848, an Odd Fellows lodge was founded in 1851, and the first newspaper was published the same year. With the growing wave of immigrants from the Old South into Texas after annexation, Tyler grew rapidly. The rich soil of the surrounding area attracted numerous planters, and already by 1850 Smith County had a population of 4,292. Buoyed by the prosperity of the surrounding farms and plantations, Tyler quickly emerged as a leading shipping and commercial center for the region. In 1856, just nine years after its founding, one writer remarked that Tyler was "already a place of considerable importance, and contains many buildings of taste and beauty." Numerous new buildings were constructed in the decade prior to the Civil War. Alfred W. Ferguson erected five brick stores on the northwest side of the square between 1855 and 1858, and Col. George Yarbrough built a three-story building on the northeast side in which he operated a dry-goods store.
Tyler at a Glance
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Tyler by the Numbers
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|107,549||2019||Texas Demographic Center|
|96,900||2010||Texas Demographic Center|
|83,650||2000||Texas Demographic Center|
|75,450||1990||Texas Demographic Center|
|70,508||1980||Texas Demographic Center|
|57,770||1970||Texas Demographic Center|
|51,230||1960||Texas Demographic Center|
|38,968||1950||Texas Demographic Center|
|28,279||1940||Texas Demographic Center|
|17,113||1930||Texas Demographic Center|
|12,085||1920||Texas Demographic Center|
|10,400||1910||Texas Demographic Center|
|8,069||1900||Texas Demographic Center|
|6,908||1890||Texas Demographic Center|
|2,423||1880||Texas Demographic Center|
|1,024||1850||Texas Demographic Center|