Tyler County, formed from Ohio County in 1814, is named for John Tyler, Virginia's governor from 1808 to 1811 and father of the U.S. president of the same name. Along with neighboring counties, Tyler participated fully in the growth caused by development of its oil and natural gas resources. “Big Moses,” drilled near the county's eastern border in 1894, produced 100 million cubic feet per day, for a time making it the world's most productive gas well. Six years later, the 1900 census counted the largest population ever recorded, 18,252. The 2000 census counted a population of 9,592.
Sistersville, on the Ohio River, was the first county seat, but served for only two years. In 1816 the court moved to Middlebourne, closer to the county's geographical center. Most of Tyler's structures of architectural interest are found in these two centers. Portions of both are listed as historic districts in the National Register of Historic Places.
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