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WOODVILLE, TX (TYLER COUNTY)

WOODVILLE, TEXAS (Tyler County). Woodville is on U.S. highways 190, 69, and 287 and the Texas and New Orleans Railroad, near the geographical center of Tyler County. It was established in 1846, when Tyler County was separated from Menard District. In the same year Woodville won the election for county seat from Town Bluff, the temporary seat, and from another proposed site on Wolf Creek in the northeast part of the county. The town was laid out on 200 acres in the Turkey Creek area donated to the county by Dr. Josiah Wheat. Wheat, the first physician of record in the area, moved with his family to Tyler County from Alabama as a settler. The town was named in honor of George T. Wood, second governor of Texas. In 1847 Woodville received a post office with James H. Fulgham as postmaster. The Lea Inn, erected in 1847, later became the Eden Hotel. The first Tyler County courthouse was a two-story log house completed in 1849. The Woodville Academy was established that year, and classes were held in the new courthouse building. As early as 1849 or 1850 the Woodville Methodist Church was listed as a mission with Acton Young as the first pastor. The first Baptist church in the area, called Bethel Baptist, was established in 1851. In the early 1850s two stage lines came through town, carrying mail two times a week. The community had twenty-five log homes, two hotels, two dry-goods stores, and two saloons. Woodville was incorporated in October 1856. The voters elected S. Hough mayor and N. A. Penland, P. A. Work, B. F. Ross, and S. B. Johnson aldermen. Around 1857 a second courthouse, a two-story frame building, was built. In 1859 the Woodville Male and Female Institute was established. The present courthouse, a three-story brick structure, was erected in 1891 and was remodeled in 1935, losing its Victorian embellishments in favor of a simpler, more modern style.

After the Civil War federal soldiers were stationed in Woodville for nine years under the command of Maj. L. A. Singer. Sawmills opened in Woodville and many other towns on the Texas and New Orleans. Sawmilling dominated the life of the area through the first half of the twentieth century. In 1946 there were two mills at Woodville, and fifty cars of poles and pilings were shipped out each week. As late as 1965 the Woodville Lumber Company was the largest sawmill in the county, employing more than 100 workers and turning out over one million board-feet of lumber a month. Woodville also produced pulpwood, poles, construction and piling timbers, fence posts, and handles. J. E. Wheat was elected mayor in 1929. During his administration the city levied taxes for the first time. By 1934 a water system with a 200,000-gallon capacity was completed, and an $80,000 gas system was begun in 1938. At the same time, a volunteer fire department was established. In 1948 U.S. Highway 190 was constructed. The first Tyler County Dogwood Festival was held in 1940. Woodville had a population of 518 in 1890, 1,521 in the 1940s, and 2,636 in 1990. In 2000 the population was 2,415. In 1986 the community had two newspapers, the Tyler County Booster and the Woodsman; two museums, the Allan Shivers Museum and Heritage Garden Village, a museum of local pioneer history; an airport; a hospital; two nursing homes; and a jail. Special events included the annual Dogwood Festival the first weekend in April, which followed Western Weekend the last week of March.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Beaumont Sunday Enterprise, March 31, 1936. It's Dogwood Time in Tyler County (Woodville, Texas, 1954, 1960, 1962).

Megan Biesele

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Megan Biesele, "WOODVILLE, TX (TYLER COUNTY)," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hgw15), accessed December 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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