There is a lot of history in the Smith County city of Tyler, Texas. Some of it is good and some of it is bad. That general statement can be said for any city, big or small, in the United States. But sometimes, there are historical stories that really don't mean much in the big scheme of things but still mean a lot to the residents of that city. One such story from Tyler is that of Shorty the Squirrel. Most in Tyler are very familiar with his story. But if you're new to the city, read his story below and how the city could hopefully continue to remember a favorite citizen with the revitalization of Downtown Tyler.

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Shorty the Squirrel

Shorty the Squirrel lived on the square in downtown Tyler between 1948 and 1963. Every day, Geneva Pillow would sit on the steps of the Smith County courthouse or on a bench across Broadway and feed Shorty. Shorty became so accustomed to Miss Pillow, and to the other humans going about their day in downtown Tyler, that he would have no problem approaching someone if they brought a treat of some kind. Sadly, Shorty passed away at the approximate age of 15 years old, well past the normal life span of a squirrel. He was buried on the square and a marker sits over where he is buried that you can visit to this day.

The Legend of Shorty the Squirrel

Shorty's story became a legend. The legendary radio personality Paul Harvey even featured his story in his "The Rest of the Story" segment of his newscast. His legend is so big that Shorty is the mascot of Tyler Parks and Recreation. Shorty's marker even became a favorite target of thieves for a brief time in the 1990s.

Michael Gibson / Townsquare Media
Michael Gibson / Townsquare Media

Downtown Tyler Revitalization

Major construction will begin soon in downtown Tyler of a new courthouse. Those plans also include a complete revamp of the downtown Tyler square area. Roundabouts are expected to be put it at the intersections of Erwin and Broadway and Ferguson and Broadway, a covered seating area is expected to go in the southwest corner, the area where the courthouse sits now is expected to be an open courtyard area and other changes will be coming to that area as well.

Continue to Honor a Favorite Citizen

With all the work expected to be done, this means that Shorty's current memorial will need to be moved and a new memorial will need to be set up. If the plans from Fitzpatrick Architects come to full fruition, there will be a large squirrel statue erected next to the covered seating area so that Shorty's story can continue to be told.

Fitzpatrick Architects via Facebook
Fitzpatrick Architects via Facebook

In five years time, downtown Tyler is going to look very different once the new courthouse is built and all the changes are made to the square. But even with all those changes, a cute little Tyler story will continue to be told.

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