Tom Ryman was born in South Nashville on October 12, 1841. He was the son of Captain John Ryman. Tom's father owned a fleet of fishing boats on the Cumberland. At the age of ten he moved Tom and the rest of the family to Chattanooga. The family moved back to Nashville when Tom was twenty and his father died four years later. Tom was forced to support his mother, brothers and sisters. He was the oldest of 6 children. Tom took over his father's business and established fish camps along the Cumberland. Fish were very plentiful back then and the fish were processed and sold in the Nashville fish markets. At 26 Tom was able to buy his first steamboat in New Orleans. His Uncle piloted the boat back to Nashville and he soon built a fleet of 35 steamboats by 1885. He carried freight and passengers to Paducah Kentucky and Cairo Illinois making a fortune.
Ryman built a mansion at 514 Market St., which is now 2nd Ave. South. Evangelists would come to Nashville and set up tent revivals. Sam Porter Jones, from Cartersville Georgia, came to Nashville to hold a tent revival. On May 10, 1885 Ryman, his wife and six children, were able to get inside seats in a tent that held over 7,000 with people standing outside. Tom was saved that night and decided that he wanted to build a building big enough for Sam to hold his meetings in. Ryman got rid of all the bars on his steamboats and built the Ryman Tabernacle. On December 23, 1904 Tom Ryman died and his funeral was held before an overflowing crowd at the Ryman Tabernacle. Sam Jones preached his funeral and during the service he suggested that from that day forward the building would be forever known as the Ryman Auditorium.
|Ryman Mansion at 514 Market St./ Nashville|
|Tom Ryman/ Ryman Tabernacle/ Evangelist Sam Jones|
|Tom Ryman's Grave/ Mt. Olivet Cemetery/ Nashville|
|Tom Ryman Statue|