Smith County, Texas
|Smith County, Texas|
The Smith County Courthouse in Tyler.
Location in the state of Texas
Texas's location in the U.S.
|• Total||949 sq mi (2,458 km2)|
|• Land||928 sq mi (2,404 km2)|
|• Water||21 sq mi (54 km2), 2.22%|
|• Density||209/sq mi (80.8/km²)|
Smith County is located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 209,714. Its county seat is Tyler. Smith County is named for James Smith, a general during the Texas Revolution.
Smith County is part of the Tyler metropolitan statistical area as well as the Tyler-Jacksonville combined statistical area. 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).
- 1 Geography
- 2 Historical
- 3 County government
- 4 Major highways
- 5 Smith County Road & Bridge
- 6 Adjacent counties
- 7 Demographics
- 8 Presidential election results
- 9 Communities
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 949 square miles (2,459 km²), of which 928 square miles (2,404 km²) is land and 21 square miles (55 km²) (2.22%) is water. 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.
The first known inhabitants of the area now known as Smith County were the Caddo Indians. In July of 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. 
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.
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
Twenty-eight elected officials serve Smith County citizens (County Auditor is not an elected position):
|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
Smith County Road & Bridge Department 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 without regard to individual commissioners' precincts to provide the most beneficial outcome for the taxpayers of Smith County.
The county infrastructure includes some 1180 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.
- Wood County (north)
- Upshur County (northeast)
- Gregg County (east)
- Rusk County (southeast)
- Cherokee County (south)
- Henderson County (southwest)
- Van Zandt County (northwest)
Texas Almanac: 1850-2010
As of the census 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.
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.
Presidential election results
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. The last Democratic presidential candidate to carry the county was Harry Truman.
Cities and towns
- Chapel Hill
- Garden Valley
- Lanes Chapel
- Mount Sylvan
- New Hope
- Pine Springs
- Red Springs
- American Freedom Museum http://www.americanfreedommuseum.org/
- Brookshire's World of Wildlife Museum http://www.brookshires.com/museum/
- Caldwell Zoo
- Carnegie History Center
- Cotton Belt Depot Train Museum
- Goodman-LeGrand House
- Historic Aviation Memorial Museum http://www.tylerhamm.com/
- List of museums in East Texas
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Smith County, Texas
- Parrott Park and Agricultural Museum http://www.lindaletx.gov/index.aspx?NID=184
- Texas Rose Festival
- Smith County Justice http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Smith_County_Justice
- Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge http://www.tigercreek.org/
- Tyler Azalea and Spring Flower Trails http://www.tylerazaleatrail.com/
- Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau http://www.visittyler.com/
- Tyler Museum of Art
- Whitaker-McClendon House
- United States Census Bureau. "2010 Census Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Texas State Historical Association Online. "Smith County". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- U.S. Decennial Census
- Texas Almanac: County Population History 1850-2010
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Geographie Electorale
- Smith County official website
- Smith County Road & Bridge
- Camp Ford
- Smith County Historical Society
- Camp Ford Historic Park
-  [Smith County Justice]
- Smith County in Handbook of Texas Online at the University of Texas
- State and Local Government on the Net
- Texas Association of Counties
||Van Zandt County||Wood County||Upshur County|
|Henderson County||Cherokee County||Rusk County|