Davis was a brave man who laughed ’til the end

Sam Stockard, The Daily News Journal, March 31, 1989

“He was a brave man, and if ever a man died game, he did, for he talked and laughed with his executioners till the very last.”

Ironically, the words were written by a Union soldier after he witnessed the hanging in 1863 of Confederate Scout Sam Davis, a Rutherford Countian whose memory lives through the preservation of his family’s Smyrna home.

Many Confederate scouts were killed in the War Between the States, but Sam Davis exuded a special quality setting his apart in the eyes of southerners and northerners, according to Norman Burns, curator of the Sam Davis Home.

Raised on the family farm in Smyrna, young Davis was taught the importance of hard work, religion and Southern honor accord to Burns.

The Davis family was not aristocratic but increased its wealth through the philosophy of Jeffersonian Democracy, aided by Mrs. Davis’ strong religious beliefs. In the eyes of the Davis family, honor was a man’s word – the idea that a handshake was all it took to consummate a contract, Burns said.

“If you said you would not betray a man’s confidence, you did not, ” Burns said. “That’s is what distinguished Sam Davis.”

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