With the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad linking the two cities in 1850, more people began to build houses and claim land south of Nashville. The railroad added a way station in the community called Stewartsboro, which was incorporated in 1869 as Smyrna after the nearby Smyrna Presbyterian Church. The town’s location along the railroad placed it in the path of both armies during the Civil War, and skirmishes were fought throughout the town. Confederate scout Sam Davis, honored for sacrificing his own life rather than betraying a friend, became a well-known figure. Smyrna residents primarily grew corn, wheat, and cotton until the mid-1900s, when industry began to outpace agriculture. In 1941, the Smyrna Army Airfield, known later as the Stewart Air Force Base, opened as a training facility for World War II soldiers. The early 1980s saw further industrial growth when Nissan of North America selected the town for a new manufacturing plant. Today, the town combines agriculture with industry as it continues to grow and prosper.
Author Bio: Christina Runkel became entranced by the stories of Smyrna and its residents after moving to the area to attend college. She holds a master of arts in American studies and works at the Sam Davis Home and Museum. The images in this book were contributed by the Sam Davis Memorial Association collection, the Rutherford County Archives, and many private collections and individuals.
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