Smyrna Historian Marty Luffman shares a Sam Davis Home Ghost Story

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By Dan Epright (Article credit to the Murfreesboro Post)

Marty Luffman is a character, no two ways about it, and a Smyrna fixture with lots of irons in the fire.

At least two of the State Farm Insurance agent’s irons are “shootin’ irons” as he competes in mounted shooting competitions, or at least he does when his loyal horse, Doc Holliday, is not recovering from a hoof injury.

Luffman is also the official historian for the town of Smyrna and has been commissioned as a Tennessee historian as well, with a proclamation signed by Gov. Bill Haslam that so states.

Gov. Bill Haslam congratulates Smyrna Historian Marty Luffman for his efforts to remember Tennessee’s rich history.

Well versed in area lore, it doesn’t hurt Luffman’s historian duties to be a member of the board of directors for the Sam Davis Home, which positively overflows with history — including haunted history.

Ghost stories. Listen to them in daylight, as at night they get pretty creepy. Plenty of Luffman’s tales revolve around the Sam Davis Home, the nexus of a lot of the comings and goings in Rutherford County for nearly two hundred years.

Sam Davis Home in Smyrna

Luffman calls it “one of the most haunted places I have ever been to.” He can fill you in, preferably in the daylight. Luffman loves telling ghost stories. Who’s to know what’s truly true, or maybe mostly true, or truly not true?

Sitting on a park bench within yards of the cemetery behind the Sam Davis Home, he relays its haunted history. Sam Davis, boy hero of the Confederacy, is buried between his mother and father. It’s his third resting place after being hung by the Union as a traitor and a spy, buried in a shallow grave, moved once, and moved to his final resting place.

But it was a different Confederate soldier Luffman claims to have seen near the barn at Sam Davis Home one night.

“I was working out here in the ‘70s, I was helping clean up after a Days on the Farm event,” says Luffman. He was riding his horse through the grounds, putting out bonfires and sending any stragglers home.

“I go around the house, and I see a man dressed in a Confederate uniform.”

Luffman tried to tell him the event was over, but the man wouldn’t acknowledge him, instead walking towards the barn as Luffman tried to follow on horseback. Without opening the door, he disappeared inside.

“He just went right in (the barn). That’s when I realized what we had here was an apparition,” says Luffman. “We had a person, an entity, that had stayed over from the Civil War.”

Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed, Councilman Lori North present Smyrna Historian Marty Luffman a proclamation with Rep. Mike Sparks.

It’s strictly a coincidence that the historic Sam Davis Home and Plantation is offering ghost tours in October, just prior to Halloween, for those sturdy enough absorb the stories without blanching. October 27 and 28, from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at the home, at 1399 Sam Davis Road in Smyrna.

Sam Davis Grave

The offering clearly warns: “Parental Discretion Advised.” For the very hardy, or foolhardy, the director of education at the Sam Davis Home will accept your application to be a storyteller, a lantern guide, or … a spirit. If you dare.

Luffman claims there are mischievous ghosts and devious ghosts, “and there are malevolent ghosts — you got to get rid of them! Ghosts come in a lot of different personalities. That’s the way it is with ghosts,” he says.

And watch out with antique furniture, such as that you might find in the Sam Davis Home. “Ghosts attach themselves to furniture, especially if it was a favorite of theirs when they were alive,” says Luffman. “If you buy furniture at an estate sale, you could take a ghost home with you.”

Luffman’s interest in ghost stories started a long time ago, “when I was in college,” he says.

“I worked in the recording studios in Nashville and they have ghosts in them. They are haunted. I did tours for the Grand Ole Opry.”

“When you bring up ghosts, you get everybody’s attention. If you want people to focus on you, you talk about how this is a haunted house and that a ghost was seen here. That’s what keeps people focused.”

Luffman says it’s fun to watch people grab their arms; visibly scared, but they’ve got to hear the story.

Speaker of the House Beth Harwell visits with Rep. Mike Sparks, Rutherfrd County Mayor Bill Ketron, Smyrna Clerk Brittany Stevens, Tiffany Johnson, Rutherford County historian Frank Caperton and other local Smyrna leaders.

“That’s what fascinated me,” he says, “being able to keep them on the edge of their seats. You can take what is actually the truth, a small piece of truth, and build it into a large, large, beautiful story.”

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