Wood, George Tyler (1795–1858)

By: J. E. Wheat

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: April 19, 2021

George Tyler Wood was a soldier, a state legislator, and the second governor of the state of Texas. According to family tradition, he was born at Cuthbert, now in Randolph County, Georgia, on March 12, 1795. In 1814 he raised a military company that fought at the Creek Indian War battle of Horseshoe Bend in Alabama. According to tradition, Wood met Sam Houston and Edward Burleson at this battle. After the Creek War Wood engaged in the mercantile business in Cuthbert. He was a member of the Georgia legislature from 1837 to 1838. On September 18, 1837, he married a widow, Martha Evans Gindrat, the mother of three children. Another child was born before the family moved to Texas. On February 16, 1839, Wood chartered the sloop Marshall to bring his family, slaves, and household equipment from Apalachicola Bay to Texas. The family settled at Point Blank on the Trinity River, in what is now San Jacinto County, then part of Liberty County. Here Wood managed a plantation and ran a mercantile business. He represented Liberty County in the Texas legislature in 1841 and at the Convention of 1845. He was a state senator in 1846 and chairman of the first state Democratic convention in 1848. He studied law and was admitted to the bar.

Wood resigned from the Texas Senate in 1846 to raise a company of mounted volunteers for the Mexican War. He was colonel of the Second Texas Mounted Volunteers from July 4 to October 1, 1846, when the regiment was dissolved by order of Gen. Zachary Taylor. Wood served with distinction at the battle of Monterrey but became involved in a controversy with Governor J. Pinckney Henderson, who had taken leave of the governor's office to command the regiment, over conduct of the battle. The controversy apparently aided Wood in 1847 when he campaigned for and was elected governor, defeating James B. Miller, Nicholas Darnell, and Jesse J. Robinson. Wood took office as governor on December 21, 1847. His administration devoted much time to the debt question, frontier defense, and the New Mexico boundary dispute. Wood was defeated by Peter Hansborough Bell in his bid for reelection in the fall of 1849. Wood's defeat was due in large measure to his failure to resolve the New Mexico dispute and to the strong opposition of anti-Houston forces in the state, who viewed Wood as a Houston man. He was again defeated in a bid for reelection in 1853. Wood accepted defeat gracefully and retired to his plantation home on the Trinity. He undertook to build a large home two miles from the river on what he considered more healthy ground, but died at his home on September 3, 1858, before it was completed. His wife, mother, and three children were buried near him on the grounds of their first plantation in what became known as Robinson graveyard, near Point Blank.

Some disagreement exists over Wood's middle name. Early accounts listed it as Tyler, but some twentieth century sources gave his name as George Thomas Wood. The confusion may have stemmed from a biographical article by S. H. German, published in 1917 in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, that claimed his middle name was Thomas. German stated that a monument erected in 1911 at Wood’s grave gives Wood’s name as Thomas. The monument, however, reads George Tyler Wood. Wood County and Woodville, the county seat of Tyler County, are named for him.

S. H. German, "Governor George Thomas Wood," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 20 (January 1917). Louella Styles Vincent, "Governor George Thomas Wood," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 20 (January 1917). Ralph A. Wooster, "Early Texas Politics: The Wood Administration," Texana 8 (1970).

  • First Legislature (1846)
  • Senate
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas

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

J. E. Wheat, “Wood, George Tyler,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wood-george-thomas.

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April 19, 2021