Posted by: smyrnatnhistory | April 25, 2008

What’s in a Name?

The area of Smyrna now occupied by Nissan was once inhabited by families with names like Ward, Miller and Patterson (to name a few). There are 4 recorded Ward Cemeteries in that area. I’ve heard for years that one of those Ward Cemeteries was still located on the grounds of the Nissan plant. With that in mind, I began calling everyone I know who works at Nissan, retired from Nissan or once drove by Nissan on their way to the lake. No one had any definite info as to where A.J. Ward (1849-1892) and J.J. Ward (1817-1886) were located in the present configuration of Smyrna.

If the cemetery were still located on Nissan property, that might be problematic for any descendants who might come for a visit. It would not be terribly easy to locate and/or access. Referring to the wonderful cemetery books done in 1975 by the SAR and the Historical Society an approximate location was identified and the search began in earnest. The books referenced JS Young Rd and the Jim Miller farm and a brick house and 2 small cedar trees….landmarks are always helpful. The first problem is JS Young Rd evidently no longer exists. (I don’t know if the name was changed or if they decided to make it into a field and threw out some grass seed to cover the asphalt or what occurred. If you know who JS Young is/was and what happened to his road, please send me an e-mail). The next stop was the tax records and VOILA! I found a cemetery in that approximate area.  It was listed as the Davis & Watson Cemetery and, well,  there is not a Davis & Watson Cemetery listed anywhere else besides the tax records. To add to the hope that this was actually the Ward Cemetery, this small section of land was located on R Sam Griffin Rd and that was close to the Miller Estates Subdivision (former Jim Miller farm), so I thought I’d take a look and see if there were any stones to be found. Driving out Lowry Street towards the southern edges of Smyrna I found R Sam Griffin Rd, only the street sign said Sam G Griffin Dr. Figuring these were actually the same Sam, I turned and found the property that was listed in the tax records.  A lot has changed in the last 30 or so years….there were lots of cedar trees and undergrowth and no visible headstones.

After all of this, I am fairly certain that this is the location of the missing Ward Cemetery. It is adjacent to Nissan property and meets all the criteria though there are lots of different names associated with this small plot of land. A call to the county historian is the next step in this saga. Hopefully that will either confirm the identity as the Ward Cemetery or begin a new search for the names of the occupants of the Davis & Watson Cemetery.  Stay tuned!



  1. Hi, I am one of the folks who helped update the cemetery book for the county that came out a few years ago. First of all, I enjoy your blog! I had wondered about that Ward Cemetery as well until one day while walking around Evergreen Cemetery in Murfreesboro, I located the headstones of AJ and JJ Ward. Though I have not found any information noting that the graves were moved, well at least the headstones were!

    I am also extremely curious about the cemeteries in the county and Smyrna(obviously I suppose!). I have a website that I started putting the photos on-I actually scrapped most of the info last year and am in the process of ‘starting over’ on it. I will try to get that page finished in the next few days and leave a link here to help solve the mystery! At least part of it.

  2. […] May 13, 2008 General History Tags: JS Young, Knox Ridley, Nissan, Sam Ridley In a previous posting, information was sought on the location of JS Young Rd (and the identity of JS Young!). Well, you […]

  3. My husband’s great-grandfather, Samuel Morford Weakley, lived in Smyrna. One of his sons, Robert, had been a mailman in Smyrna for years. We are looking for a picture of him and a picture of the old Weakley farm. Weakley Road and Weakley Street are named after Sam. My husband’s grandfather, Samuel Hickman Weakley, left the family when he was young and moved out of state. We have attended Weakley reunions in Smyrna in the past, but there are only three elderly ladies left.

    • I realize your post is years old, but I just ran across it. My grandfather was that mail carrier in Smyrna, who owned the farm (my mother was raised on it) but most of it was “sold” when Percy Priest Dam was built and the recreation area was created. What was left, was left to Robert Weakley’s five daughters. I have pictures of Robert Weakley — I thought Weakley Road, which ran by the homestead, was named after him. You say it’s named after Sam — never knew that. Lydia Hudsick, maiden name Gentry, mother was Rachel Weakely Genty.

      • Thanks for reading my blog! I’m glad someone was able to offer some Weakley info….I haven’t heard a lot of info about the Weakleys.

        Are you from Tennessee? I ask because my great-great grandmother was a Gentry from the Jackson / Putnam County area.


      • I am curious about the photo that you have. I have been researching this family for thirty-one years and am finished with the tree with the research, but I love to add photos to it. Anything that you can tell me would be greatly appreciated.

      • Hi agein,

        I knew the Weakley sisters from reunions that we attended. I am looking for a picture of their dad and need his middle name. I have done the Weakley genealogy, along with many others, and have been working on it for thirty-one years, finally done. I am filling it in with pictures and Robert’s is about the only one that I don’t have. Did you attend the Little Rock or Smyrna reunions in the 1980’s? If so, we have probably met. My email address is Bweak@comcast if you could send me a copy of the picture that you have of him. My husband was named after him.

        Mary Ann Weakley

      • It is me again. You are Becky’s daughter, I bet. How is she and Julie doing? I know that Rachel died not too long ago.

        Mary Ann

    • Mary Ann Weakley – I never saw your replies to the entry I made last year — just ran across it searching someone else. My email is LHUDSICK@GMAIL.COM, which is a better way to reach me. I’m Rachel’s daughter. Julie and Becky are the two Weakley girls still alive. Would love to share more – would prefer a direct email, as I don’t know how to attach things to this particular site. Hope to hear from you. Lydia Hudsick

      • I am still interested in the photo of Robert and his children. A cousin of my husband sent beautiful pictures of Robert’s aunts if interested.

  4. My great-great grandfather,Joseph Engles,was the first mayor of smyrna in 1869,and my great uncle JW Engles was the second mayor of smyrna in 1915. That is all that i know. Are there any existing writings by or about Joseph Engles ? If anyone out there knows anything,will you please e-mail me at

    Thank You,
    Joseph Engles III

    • I am Deborah Engles and my father is James Engles, Jr. And he told me that my great-great-great-great grandfather is Joseph Engles (first mayor of Smyrna)…My question to you is, are we related?

      • Sorry I meant great-great-great-great (3) grandfather

      • Sorry I meant great-great-great-great grandfather.

      • Sorry I meant great-great-great grandfather

      • Sorry I meant 3 times great, not 4.

  5. What is the significance behind the “Stewarts” name in Symrna. There are alot of roads, creek and a school with the name of “Stewart” as part of the name. What’s the connection?

  6. Really enjoyed this blog post.Thanks Again. Awesome.

  7. J.s.young road still exist I lived on it as a kid. The intersection where Sam Davis road and now nissan blvd meet, the road across from Sam Davis is j.s.young road . If traveling down Sam Davis rd to nissan blvd just drive across nissan blvd and you are on j.s.young drive

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