HISTORY OF SLAYDEN
Slayden is named after a fairly prominent family from Virginia who settled in the early 1800s down in the Bartons Creek and Woods Valley area and on up towards what is now known as Slayden. It appears that one of the main incentives for later newcomers to this area was the timber. After clearing the land, tobacco became an important factor in the development of the small town. Even today, timber and tobacco are important sources of income for those living in the Slayden area. As early as the mid 1800s, a Methodist church was established in what is now known as Rainey Camp Hollow, approximately a mile and a half from the present day middle of Slayden. A Masonic lodge held meetings on the top floor of the two story church building in Rainey Camp. After that building burned around the turn of the century, it was rebuilt in Slayden. That building was torn down after the Nashville Presbytery purchased the property in 1940 and built what stands there now, the Slayden Presbyterian Church.
The town was platted in 1898 by Robert B. Stone. Slayden was incorporated by an act of the Tennessee General Assembly, House Bill #796, introduced by State Senator T. V. Schmittou in 1913. The charter set up a form of government that is still in effect today.
The incorporation of Slayden occurred approximately 10 years after the L & N Railroad had established what was known as the Clarksville Mineral Branch. Slayden was originally called Slaydenview, but at the time the railroad made its way from Clarksville to Dickson, the official postal name became Slayden. The first postmaster for Slayden was John M. Ferguson. The postmaster listed for the Slaydenview Post Office was Thomas P. Slayden.
As with other small communities, the railroad brought life to Slayden. The railroad provided the marketing means for timber products. A stave mill and several saw mills were in operation at the turn of the century. Another product from Slayden to make its way to market by rail was tobacco. A tobacco factory was in operation during the early 1900s. The small town, at one time, had everything a rural area needed to avoid going into “town” very often. Several merchants operated in Slayden, running yearly accounts from crop to crop.
The community was prosperous enough to establish its own bank during the early 1920s. On January 12, 1929, J. H. McFall, cashier of the Bank of Slayden, left the bank on his way to a Nashville bank with more than $5,000 of the bank’s money. A good portion of the money was in gold. McFall was never heard from and there was a lot of speculation of what happened to McFall and the money. Norman Eubank was appointed as liquidator of the bank on February 1, 1929, after the bank was placed in the hands of a receiver. McFall’s son, Robert H. McFall, served as Slayden’s Postmaster for over 40 years.
The first school in Slayden was organized in the 1890s. That building burned in 1929. The present Slayden Community Center is the schoolhouse that was rebuilt after the fire. Grades 1 through 8 were taught until 1962, when the students were transferred to VanLeer. The Depression can be counted as a factor in the discontinuance of the Clarksville Mineral Branch. L & N stopped services and the last tracks were taken up in 1936. The Slayden Depot served as the Post Office until the owner, Robert McFall died. It was bought in 1984 by a developing company, and moved to Grinder’s Switch to make it a museum in tribute to Minnie Pearl.
Slayden did not completely die, but many left the farms and headed north looking for work after tobacco crops did not bring enough money to payoff store accounts. Slayden never regained its growth momentum spurred on by the railroad. During the past several years, the Slayden area has grown in population. Although Slayden did hold the claim as the smallest incorporated town in Tennessee, annexation and new residents have lost Slayden that designation.
Even though most of the Slayden residents earn a living working in Dickson, Clarksville, and Nashville, farming is still prevalent. Tobacco and cattle are raised as either a main source of income or to supplement income. Timber is still a source of revenue. As for the main center of town, it is much different than years ago. The old Bank Building was torn down a few years ago. There are four cemeteries within the Slayden city limits. The “Old Schoolhouse” serves as a community center and a voting station. The town is experiencing what many towns are experiencing today, a shrinking “downtown” with expanding boundaries.
Courtesy of the Heritage Book of Dickson County 1803-2006