Smith County, Texas

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Smith County, Texas
Smith County, TX, Courthouse IMG 0533.JPG
The Smith County Courthouse in Tyler
Seal of Smith County, Texas
Map of Texas highlighting Smith County
Location in the state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location in the U.S.
Founded July 1846
Seat Tyler
Largest city Tyler
 • Total 950 sq mi (2,460 km2)
 • Land 921 sq mi (2,385 km2)
 • Water 28 sq mi (73 km2), 3.0%
 • (2010) 209,714
 • Density 209/sq mi (80.8/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Smith County is located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 209,714.[1] Its county seat is Tyler.[2] Smith County is named for James Smith, a general during the Texas Revolution.

Smith County is part of the Tyler, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the Tyler-Jacksonville, TX Tyler-Jacksonville Combined Statistical Area.


Smith County veterans display, the Wall of Memories, in the Tyler plaza
Confederate States of America memorial in Tyler plaza
Korean War Memorial in Tyler plaza

The first known inhabitants of the area now known as Smith County were the Caddo Indians. In July 1846 Smith County separated from the Nacogdoches District and was named for James Smith, a General of the Texas Revolution. It was at this time that Tyler was designated as the county seat.[3]

Camp Ford was the largest Confederate Prisoner of War Camp west of the Mississippi River during the American Civil War and was where Sheriff Jim Reed of Collin County and Judge McReynolds, former chief justice of the district, were seized and lynched by "Regulators". The original site of the Camp stockade is now a public historic park, owned by Smith County, Texas, and managed by the Smith County Historical Society. The park contains a kiosk, paved trail, interpretive signage, a cabin reconstruction, and a picnic area. It is located on Highway 271, 0.8 miles north of Loop 323.

The Smith County Historical Society, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was founded in 1959 by individuals and business firms dedicated to discovering, collecting and preserving data, records and other items relating to the history of Smith County, Texas. More information can be found at Smith County Historical Society Website.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 950 square miles (2,500 km2), of which 921 square miles (2,390 km2) is land and 28 square miles (73 km2) (3.0%) is water.[4]

The county infrastructure includes some 1,180 miles (1,900 km) of two lane county road. 70% of these county roads were rated "bad" or "poor" in 2004. The county Commissioners Court appointed a new county engineer in 2005 and initiated an aggressive reconstruction campaign. After the election of 2006, this reconstruction campaign was cut back by the Commissioners Court. During this period a controversial pay increase for commissioners and the county judge was passed by a 3-2 vote. After heated protests from the public the pay rates were eventually rolled back and new legislation was proposed in the state legislature to prohibit commissioners and county judges from authorizing raises for themselves during their first term of office.

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 4,292
1860 13,392 212.0%
1870 16,532 23.4%
1880 21,863 32.2%
1890 28,324 29.6%
1900 37,370 31.9%
1910 41,746 11.7%
1920 46,769 12.0%
1930 53,123 13.6%
1940 69,090 30.1%
1950 74,701 8.1%
1960 86,350 15.6%
1970 97,096 12.4%
1980 128,366 32.2%
1990 151,309 17.9%
2000 174,706 15.5%
Est. 2012 214,821
U.S. Decennial Census[5]
2012 Estimate[1]

As of the census[7] of 2010, there were 209,714 people and 76,427 households residing in the county. The population density was 227.6 people per square mile (73/km²). There were 87,309 housing units. The racial makeup of the county was 70.1% White, 17.9% Black or African American, 0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.2% Asian, and 2.0% persons reporting two or more races. 17.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 76,427 households, out of which 34.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.8% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.7% were non-families. 25.3% of all households were made up of a householder living alone. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.13.

The median income for a household in the county was $46,139. The per capita income for the county was $25,374. About 15.4% of families and 13.80% of the population were below the poverty line.

In the county, the population was spread out with 26.60% under the age of 18, 9.80% from 18 to 24, 27.40% from 25 to 44, 22.10% from 45 to 64, and 14.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 92.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.90 males.

The county has been unable to house approximately 30% of its growing inmate population since 2000 in its own facilities and spends approximately 10% of its annual budget (estimated to be $62 Million in 2007) for housing prisoners in out of county facilities. However, this figure should be adjusted for the fact that the county currently spends $35.00 per day housing prisoners in its own facility, and $40.00 for housing them in other counties. The real cost being $5.00 per day, and the cost for 2007 adjusted to $638,000.00. According to official state of Texas records Smith county now incarcerates its residents at a rate twice as high as the state average.


Smith County was one of the 226 counties in Texas to cast the majority of its votes for Republican John McCain. McCain won 69% of the vote and 55,187 votes. Democrat Barack Obama won 30% of the vote and 23,726 votes. Other candidates won 648 votes and 1% of the vote. In 2004, Republican George W. Bush did better than McCain and received 72% of the vote and 53,392 votes to Democrat John Kerry's 27% of the vote and 19,970 votes. Other candidates received 1% of the vote.[8] The last Democratic presidential candidate to carry the county was Harry Truman.[9]

The county is represented in the Texas House of Representatives by Matt Schaefer (R) of Tyler and the Texas Senate by Senator Kevin Eltife (R). Its U.S. representative is Louie Gohmert (R).

County government[edit]

As with all 254 Texas counties, Smith County provides services to its citizens as defined by the Texas Constitution, the Local Government Code and the Texas State Transportation Code through independent elected officials, rather than through one central authority. All elected officials report directly to the citizens of the county, and no one elected official is controlled by or reports to another official. County operations are further supported by non-elected department directors and administrators and general employees.

Officials and functions[edit]

Twenty-eight elected officials serve Smith County citizens (County Auditor is not an elected position):

Official Function
County Judge County administration (as presiding member of the Commissioners Court) and judicial jurisdiction
Commissioners (four, one per precinct) County administration (Commissioners Court)
Sheriff Security and law enforcement
District Attorney Law enforcement and criminal prosecution
Constables (five, one per precinct) Law enforcement
Justices of the Peace (five, one per precinct) Judicial/Legal jurisdiction
District Clerk Judicial support to district courts
County Clerk Clerk of record for the county
County Tax Assessor-Collector Collector of property taxes and special fees
County Treasurer County’s chief banker
County Court at Law Judges (three) Judicial/Legal jurisdiction
District Judges (four) Judicial/Legal jurisdiction

Smith County Road & Bridge[edit]

Road & Bridge

Smith County Road & Bridge Department Smith County Road & Bridge is a department of Smith County, Texas and is under the jurisdiction of the Smith County Commissioners Court. Since 1948, The citizens of Smith County have directed by popular vote, that all road and bridge maintenance and construction be under the "Unit System" as prescribed by the Texas State Transportation Code. Under the Unit System, a County Engineer, or Road Administrator is designated to direct maintenance and construction for the county as a whole.

The county infrastructure includes some 1186 miles of two lane county road. 70% of these county roads were rated as "bad" and "poor" in 2004. The county Commissioners Court appointed a new County Engineer in 2005 and an aggressive reconstruction campaign was initiated to improve the infrastructure under the "Road Recovery Plan". 70% of county roads are surfaced with hot oil sand (HOSA), 15% hot mix asphalt, approx. 13% dirt, and less than 2% concrete. The "Road Recovery Plan" initiated under Judge Becky Dempsey, which sought to reconstruct 750 miles of county roads in a 6 year time frame, was discontinued in 2007.

Road & Bridge Funding has not kept pace with increases in general revenue funds since 2007. The termination of the Road Recovery Program in 2007 initiated a reduction in the commitment of the Commissioner's Court to the goal of improving the 2/3 of all County Roads rated as "Bad" or "Poor". In the 2005 and 2006 Budgets, approximately $2 million per year was transferred from the general fund to the Road & Bridge Fund to maintain the initiative. When the position of County Engineer was eliminated, Road & Bridge funding as a portion of the county budget was reduced despite County Revenues rising from $43.3 million in 2005 to an estimated $65.2 million in 2012. The net effect being that revenues derived county wide were diverted to projects within the Tyler city limits while county roads fell further into disrepair and became more expensive to maintain.

   Road & Bridge Mission Statement

•Responsible use, care, and maintenance of County facilities, equipment, and supplies used to accomplish our mission.

•Maintain respect for the rights of the public, the public trust, and our system of laws.

•Performance of our duties in a safe and responsible manner.

Currently, Smith County Road and Bridge maintains 1,189 miles of county roads, 8,600 acres of right of way, 140 bridges, 13,280 feet of culverts, 9 million feet of drainage channels, 2,500 feet of underground sewer, as well as Smith County vehicles and equipment.[10][11] The current Road and Bridge Administrator is Doug Nicholson. Those interested in contacting the Smith County Road and Bridge Department may do so here: Important information about permitting, construction, and other transportation related as well as contact information provided.



Cities and towns[edit]

Unincorporated areas[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 24, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Texas State Historical Association Online. "Smith County". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved December 24, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Texas Almanac: County Population History 1850-2010". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved December 24, 2013. 
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Geographie Electorale
  10. ^ Smith County Texas Adopted 2011 Budget,
  11. ^ "Smith County, Texas Adopted Budget FY2011". Smith County, Texas. 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°23′N 95°16′W / 32.38°N 95.27°W / 32.38; -95.27