Posted by: smyrnatnhistory | March 26, 2008


I have a special place in my heart for old family cemeteries. Yes, that may sound weird to some people, but it has been a life-long affliction. In years past, most people in this part of the world were buried on the “family farm” or near the “homeplace”. This was especially true in rural areas. As Rutherford County has grown, we have become increasingly at risk of losing these small burial grounds to neglect. Some of them are just forgotten as descendants move away.

For instance, there is a family cemetery in the middle of Smyrna on Jackson Street. This would be almost directly behind the County Clerk’s office on Lowry Street. The last burials that I am aware of took place in the 1940’s. The area is very overgrown and no markers are currently visible. It is a Ridley Cemetery. I hope (sometime soon) to get permission to search the lot for any remaining signs of the cemetery.

On Sam Davis Road, there was once a Ridley Cemetery. It was evidently located across the street (and across Stewarts Creek) from the driveway to the Sam Davis home. When Riverview Subdivision was constructed, most of the graves were moved to Maple View. However, rumors persist that not all of the graves were marked or removed. It is thought that Moses Ridley (builder of Ridley’s Landing and the builder/original owner of the Sam Davis Home) still lies in an unmarked grave in the long gone Ridley Cemetery.

There are lots of cemetery stories that can be told. Perhaps you know some of these stories and would be willing to share. Perhaps you know of a forgotten cemetery. I would love to hear your stories and the locations of any small cemeteries.



  1. Are you aware of the cemetary located at the Smyrna Airport on Fitzhugh Blvd (A Street) on what was previously the Sewart AFB.
    I’ve been told for the past 30 years that it is an old slave cemetary. I used to work for the National Guard and we took it as a project around 1996 to clean it up.

    There is also a very old cemetary on the northern end of the National Guard Training site at the airport. There are many gravestones in this cemetary and as I recall, it is the Gooch cemetary, but my memory may be failing me on the name. J. S. Gooch was a prominant figure in Smyrna in the late 19th century and was Colonel during the Civil War.

  2. […] Davis Home.  Owned by the State of Tennessee, it was built ca. 1820 by Moses Ridley.  (Remember Moses?)  Originally built as a log structure, the Davis family made the modifications that rendered a […]

    • The Sam Davis Home was bought by the State of Tennessee in 1927. It was deeded to the Sam Davis Memorial Association in 1930. Sam, his parents, his grandmother, a sister, a brother, and the brother’s wife are buried in a small cemetery behind the house. There is a museum where you can see a video about Sam and learn why he is called “The Boy Hero of the Confederacy”. The museum contains artifacts from the War Between The States and the Davis family. For a nominal fee you can visit the museum and take a guided tour of the historic home. The home and museum are open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday from 1pm to 4 pm. There are special events through out the year. See for further information.

  3. […] hanging, Sam had already been buried. He was exhumed and brought home to Smyrna and buried in the forgotten Ridley cemetery across Stewart’s Creek from his boyhood home. His mother then requested that he be moved to a […]

  4. […] The pictured grave is that of Christopher Henry Ridley. Mr. Ridley was originally interred in the Ridley Cemetery on Stewarts Creek. Since his grave was marked, Mr. Ridley was moved to Mapleview when the area was […]

    • You must be a relative, Christopher. I am a gggrandaughter of George Crosthwait Ridley, the son of Bromfield and Rebecca Crosthwait Ridley. I am so glad to find these sites, but it seems that no one has visited them in a while. I would really like to know more about the Ridleys. George moved to Florence,Texas where he was buried. Most of my family now lives in Texas.

  5. John H. Shelby is buried in the Ridley Cemetery along with many others that were not moved. He was a veteran of the War of 1812 who died in 1815. He had a headstone at one time. The cemetery symbol and the name Ridley Cemetery is still shown on the Smyrna map you can get for free at the Chamber of Commerce at Town Hall. Progress has destroyed another wonderful cemetery. This is how we honor our fallen.

  6. I don’t know if anyone even looks at this site anymore. I just discovered it because I am looking for information about my family, The Ridleys. My gggrandfather was George Crosthwait Ridley, the son of Judge Bromfield and Rebecca Crosthwait Ridley. I live in Texas, but my cousin and I have looked for information about the Ridley home.
    I know that George Ridley was buried in Florence, Texas. I plan to visit the area soon and would like to be able to find it. I understand that both of the Ridley homes were burned after the Civil War.

    • Dinah, I have worked at the camp located on the Ridley property for 10 years. We still have several pictures of the house and property.

      • Thank you for the reply, Ryan. We did visit Murphreesboro in August after I posted this message. We visited the court house where Judge Bromfield evidently presided and the surrounding area. We were on a time schedule and did not have time to visit the area that I had read about being the family property at Old Jefferson. As I said, I understood that the homes were burned according to the book,Battles and Sketches of the War, written by Bromfield L. Ridley. One of the homes had belonged to Mrs. Rebecca Crossthwait Ridley’s family.
        My cousin found several people who were aware of our 3greatgrandfather when he visited the court house. They told him that Judge Ridley helped to plan the original building and that it had been restored to the era when he was presiding.
        When we visited, the people in the court house were polite and helpful, but didn’t seem to have any idea about Judge Ridley.
        What kind of camp is there? I would like to return when I have more time to learn more about the area.

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