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History of Decatur

The adventure behind the city

Photo+courtesy+of+Eden+Jones
Photo courtesy of Eden Jones

Photo courtesy of Eden Jones

Photo courtesy of Eden Jones

Eden Jones, Staff Writer

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Zachary Taylor established Taylorsville in 1856, around the time ​Henry A. Wise established ​Wise County. However, the local bishop, a man of great power in the town, disagreed with the name because he disliked Zachary, the man who owned Taylorsville. Zachary then renamed the town Decatur in 1858, after the Naval hero Stephen Decatur, Jr.

Stephen first served in the position of midshipman upon the ship USS ​Frigate​. Stephen eventually worked his way up the naval ranks to commodore. He then received his title of Naval hero on his first assignment with the goal of recovering one of the US Naval ships stolen by pirates. Once Stephen outsmarted the pirates, he deemed the ship unseaworthy and burned it. The act of burning the ship in 1812 turned a commodore into a Naval hero. Stephen retired, and lived on ​Lafayette Square with his wife and kids. Because Stephen moved to Taylorsville, Zachary and the bishop decided to rename the town after the new hero.

The town of Decatur started to grow because of Stephen’s popularity, as well as the railroad. This growth spurred the construction of common stores and schools. Construction finished in 1857, equipping the town with everything it needed to grow and develop, preparing Decatur for the future, bringing the city to 2018, and beyond.

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