According to early history, Smyrna was first settled prior to the American Revolution on the southern bank of Duck Creek, near the fork of Green's Branch. In 1716, this tiny village was first named Salisbury. It was, however, also known to its inhabitants as Duck Creek. Duck Creek soon became a thriving community of merchant vessels.
Along with shipping grain, lumber, peaches, and eventually fertilizer, shipbuilding became a prominent business. Two major thoroughfares formed what were known as Duck Creek Crossroads and later came to be called the Four Corners of the town. In 1806, the Delaware Assembly changed the name of the town to Smyrna. The original boundaries were one-fourth of a mile in each direction from the Four Corners. In 1857, the town limits were extended another one-fourth mile in each direction, making the town equivalent to one square mile.
How Smyrna Got Its Name
The Town of Smyrna began on the southern bank of Duck Creek, near the fork of Green's Branch.
According to "A Brief History of Smyrna, Delaware," written by Smyrna teacher and historian, the late George L. Caley:
A writer was even once quoted as stating, "It may come as a surprise to many town dwellers that Smyrna is really a suburb of Duck Creek." In 1716, this tiny village was first named "Salisbury;" however, it was also known to its inhabitants as "Duck Creek." Duck Creek soon became a thriving community of merchant vessels. Along with the shipping of grain, lumber, peaches, and eventually fertilizer; shipbuilding became a prominent business.
About one mile south of Duck Creek, two major thoroughfares formed what was known as the "Duck Creek Crossroads." This site later came to be known as the "Four Corners," what is today the intersection of Main and Commerce streets.
Duck Creek Crossroads, which once served only as a village without any exact boundaries, from 1768 to 1806, was finally changed to Smyrna by rule of the Delaware General Assembly. The original boundaries were one-fourth of a mile in each direction from the crossroads, which are now called the Four Corners.
The exact path to how the name of Smyrna came about is unknown, but two versions of its origination have been offered. The first explanation is often described as the version that is found in the history books. This side ventured into the idea that at the time commerce and trade in Duck Creek was thriving. "Smyrna," standing as an excellent Biblical port name, was the obvious choice.
The second version of the town name selection is better known as the untold story. This version has been most passed on by oral tradition. A preacher by the name of Francis Asbury during one of his several explorations through the crossroads and Duck Creek Village provided a soul-searching sermon for those who were in attendance. In the sermon is based on an excerpt from the second chapter of "The Revelation," in which St. John wrote to the inundated parishioners of Smyrna, Turkey, warning them of the difficulty that lay ahead. St. John encouraged the people to remain faithful until death so that God would bestow upon them a crown of life. Asbury's dynamic sermon, serving as inspiration and revelation to many of the early Methodists present that day, were convicted of their sins and thus saved. Even further, some of the people who were in attendance on that fateful day became prominent parts in the growing life of the Cross Roads. When the time came to choose a name for the town, Smyrna was their top choice because of Asbury's powerful sermon. With the new name in place and the final progression of Duck Creek Cross Roads to Smyrna Village, the town of Smyrna served as the new reality while the Duck Creek Cross Roads became a memory of the past.
In 1857, the town limits were extended another one-fourth mile in each direction, making the town equivalent to one square mile.
Today, the Town of Smyrna has expanded to approximately three square miles and serves as home to 10,023 people, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.