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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Tyler in Smith County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Smith County as a 19th Century Legal Center

 
 
Smith County as a 19th Century Legal Center Marker image. Click for full size.
By Randal B. Gilbert, December 9, 2015
1. Smith County as a 19th Century Legal Center Marker
Inscription. Soon after its establishment in 1846, Smith County became an important legal center in East Texas. The first legal proceeding to take place in the county was a district court session held in an abandoned one-room log cabin in Tyler in December 1846.

In 1850, after the State Legislature decided the Supreme Court should meet not only in Austin but throughout the state, Tyler was made one of the court's three seats. The Supreme Court began meeting here the following year. In 1851 Tyler was also made a U. S. District Court seat. It has served as such since that time, interrupted only by the Civil War when Confederate District Court was held here.

Because the Supreme Court was overworked hearing both civil and criminal appeals, the new Texas Constitution of 1876 established the Court of Criminal Appeals to relieve the Supreme Court of its criminal jurisdiction. Rotating at the same time and to the same places as the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals met in Tyler from its inception. Years later, state laws were passed that moved the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals permanently to Austin. The courts continued to operate in Tyler until 1891 and 1908, respectively.
 
Erected 1992 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 7757.)
 
Location.
The Smith County Courthouse image. Click for full size.
By Randal B. Gilbert, December 9, 2015
2. The Smith County Courthouse
The marker is on the left of the entrance doors.
32° 21.076′ N, 95° 18.02′ W. Marker is in Tyler, Texas, in Smith County. Marker is on North Broadway Avenue north of East Erwin Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is mounted at the front entrance of the Smith County Courthouse. Marker is at or near this postal address: 100 N Broadway Ave, Tyler TX 75702, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Smith County C.S.A. / Tyler-Smith County C.S.A. Men and Units (within shouting distance of this marker); Yarbrough Building (within shouting distance of this marker); The First County Agricultural Extension Agent (within shouting distance of this marker); City of Tyler (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Henry Miller Morgan (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Henry Miller Morgan (about 400 feet away); Tyler Commercial College (about 600 feet away); 1881 Smith County Jail (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tyler.
 
Categories. Government
 
The 1851 Smith County Courthouse image. Click for full size.
By Unknown Photographer, circa 1870
3. The 1851 Smith County Courthouse
The Texas Supreme Court used the Smith County Courthouse until a separate court building was constructed for it and the Court of Criminal Appeals in 1880.
Image courtesy of the Smith County Historical Society - Archives Collection, 125 S. College, Tyler, Texas
1876 Smith County Courthouse and Court of Appeals Building image. Click for full size.
By Unknown photographer, circa 1890
4. 1876 Smith County Courthouse and Court of Appeals Building
In 1876 the county "Victorianized" the 1851 courthouse by adding a mansard roof and clock tower (with no clock!). In 1880 a separate two story structure was built for the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals. The Appeals building is partially visible on the left side of this image. It was a busy day on the square.
Image courtesy of the Smith County Historical Society - Archives Collection, 125 S. College, Tyler, Texas
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 19, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 9, 2015, by Randal B. Gilbert of Tyler, Texas. This page has been viewed 149 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 9, 2015, by Randal B. Gilbert of Tyler, Texas.   3, 4. submitted on December 15, 2015, by Randal B. Gilbert of Tyler, Texas. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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