Smith County Courthouse (Tyler, TX)
Named for General James Smith, Smith County Texas was established in 1846. Smith knew Sam Houston as they were both Colonels in the Tennessee Militia and came to Nacogdoches in the spring of 1835. He fought at the Battle of San Jacinto and would become an important military figure in the Republic of Texas, commanding units in both the Battle of the Neches and the Regulator-Moderator War. The Texas “Lone Star” was attributed to him by Guy M. Bryan who said in 1873, "A half century since, overcoats were ornamented with large brass buttons. It happened that the buttons on the coat of General Smith had the impress of a five pointed star. For want of a seal, one of these buttons was cut off and used."
The county seat of Smith County was created at the same time. Tyler was named for President John Tyler for his support in admitting Texas into the Union. Today Tyler and Smith County grows 20% of the commercial rose bushes produced in the United States. Earl Campbell, who would go on to win the Heisman Trophy at the University of Texas before becoming a Hall of Fame running back for the Houston Oilers, grew up in Tyler and played for John Tyler High School. He was nicknamed the Tyler Rose.
The town square in Tyler sits empty after the city’s historic 1910 courthouse was dismantled in 1955. The current courthouse was built in the Modern style of the 50’s that same year, across the street from the old one. In February of 2005 the courthouse was the site of a shooting that left two people dead when David Hernandez Arroyo Sr. opened fire on his ex-wife and adult son who were at the courthouse to attend a hearing on Arroyo’s failed child support payments. Arroyo used an automatic rifle to kill his ex-wife before engaging in a gun battle with sheriff deputies and police officers who were only armed with pistols. Mark Wilson, a Tyler resident who was in the area and witnessed the shootings, used a concealed weapon and shot at Arroyo, hitting him twice. Arroyo was wearing a bullet proof vest and returned fire killing Wilson. Wilson saved countless lives at the courthouse by causing Arroyo to disengage with the officers, forcing him to flee in his truck where he would eventually be shot and killed by Sgt. Rusty Jacks after a pursuit.
Tyler was the first courthouse on a long two day, 24 county marathon that my Dad and I made earlier this week. We stayed the night in Tyler and drove downtown in the morning to get the first shot before heading north to Quitman. When we got there it was still dark, so rather than waiting for daylight I decided to take this long exposure shot.