Greeneville is a town in
County, Tennessee, United
The population was 15,198 at the 2000
is the county seat of Greene
The town was named in honor of Revolutionary War
hero Nathanael Greene
. Incidentally, it is
the only town with this spelling in the United States, although there are numerous U.S. towns named
The town was the capital of the
short-lived State of Franklin
the 18th-century history of the Tennessee region.
Greeneville is notable as the town where President Andrew Johnson
(1808-1875) began his
political career when elected from his trade as a tailor. He and
his family lived there most of his adult years (except for his
residency in political service in capitals). It was an area of
strong abolitionist and Unionist views and yeomen farmers, an
environment which influenced Johnson's outlook.
The U.S. Navy
was named in honor of this town.
officially hosts the Greeneville
Astros baseball club of the Appalachian League, though the club
actually plays in nearby Tusculum.
Greeneville is located at (36.168240, -82.822474) . It lies in the
foothills of the Appalachian
These hills are part of the Appalachian Ridge-and-Valley
, which is characterized by fertile river valleys
flanked by narrow, elongate ridges. Greeneville is located roughly
halfway between Bays Mountain
northwest and the Bald Mountains
part of the main Appalachian crest— to the southeast. The valley in which
Greeneville is situated is part of the watershed of the Nolichucky
River, which passes a few miles south of the
Several federal and state highways now intersect in Greeneville, as
they were built to follow old roads and trails. U.S. Route 321
follows Main Street through the center of the town and connects
Greeneville to Newport to the southwest. U.S. Route 11 (Andrew
Johnson Highway), which connects Greeneville with Morristown to the west, intersects US-321 in Greeneville and
the merged highway proceeds northeast to Johnson
City. Tennessee State Route 107, which also follows
Main Street, connects Greeneville to Erwin to the east
and to the Del
Rio area to the south.
Tennessee State Route 70
(Rogersville Road) connects Greeneville with Interstate 81
, which passes several miles to
According to the United
States Census Bureau
, the town has a total area of
14.0 square miles (36.4 km²), all of it land.
Big Spring in downtown Greeneville
were hunting and camping in the Nolichucky Valley as
early as the Paleo-Indian
10,000 B.C.). A substantial Woodland
(1000 B.C. - 1000 A.D.) village existed at the
Nolichucky's confluence with Big Limestone Creek (now part of
Davy Crockett Birthplace State
By the time the first Euro-American
settlers arrived in the area in the late 1700s, the Cherokee
claimed the valley as part of their
hunting grounds. The Great Indian
passed just northwest of modern Greeneville, and the
townsite is believed to have once been the juncture of two lesser
Native American trails.
Permanent European settlement of Greene County began in 1772. Jacob
Brown, a North Carolina merchant, leased a large stretch of land
from the Cherokee, located between the upper Lick Creek watershed
and the Nolichucky River, in what is now the northeastern corner of
the county. The "Nolichucky Settlement" initially aligned itself
with the Watauga Association
part of Washington County, North Carolina. After voting
irregularities in a local election, however, an early Nolichucky
settler named Daniel Kennedy (1750-1802) led a movement to form a
separate county, which was granted in 1783.
county was named for Nathanael Greene, reflecting the loyalties of
the numerous Revolutionary
War veterans who settled in the Nolichucky Valley, especially
from Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The first county court sessions were held
at the home of Robert Kerr, who lived at "Big Spring" (near the
center of modern Greeneville). Kerr donated for the establishment
of the county seat, most of which was located in the area currently
bounded by Irish, College, Church, and Summer streets.
"Greeneville" was officially recognized as a town in 1786.
Greeneville and the State of Franklin
Replica of the Capitol of the State of Franklin in
In 1784, North Carolina attempted to resolve its debts by giving
the U.S. Congress its lands west of the Appalachian Mountains,
including Greene County. In response, delegates from Greene County
and neighboring counties convened at Jonesborough and resolved to
break away from North Carolina and establish an independent state.
The delegates agreed to meet at Greeneville later that year to form
The constitutional convention for what would become known as the
State of Franklin (after Benjamin
) was held in a crude log courthouse in Greeneville.
Reverend Samuel Houston (not to be confused with the later governor of Tennessee and Texas
) presented a
draft that restricted the election of lawyers and other
professionals. Houston's draft met staunch opposition, especially
from Reverend Hezekiah Balch (1741-1810), who was later
instrumental in the creation of Tusculum College. The delegates
instead chose a constitution similar to North Carolina's. John Sevier
was elected governor, and
Greeneville was named the permanent capital. The delegates
submitted a petition for statehood the following year, which failed
to gain the requisite votes needed for admission to the Union. The
Franklin movement began to collapse shortly thereafter.
at the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in Nashville, a log house that had been moved from Greeneville
was displayed as the capitol where the State of Franklin's
delegates met in the 1780s.
There is, however, nothing to
verify that this building was the actual capitol. In the 1960s, the
capitol was reconstructed, based largely on the dimensions given in
historian J.G.M. Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee
Greeneville and the abolitionist movement
First Presbyterian Church, founded by Rev.
Hezekiah Balch and Samuel Doak in 1780
Greene County, like much of East Tennessee, was home to a strong
movement in the early
1800s. This movement was likely influenced by the relatively large
numbers of Quakers
who migrated to the
region from Pennsylvania in the 1790s. The Quakers considered
slavery to be in violation of Biblical Scripture, and were active
in the region's abolitionist movement throughout the antebellum
period. One such Quaker was Elihu Embree (1782-1820), who published the
nation's first abolitionlist newspaper, The Emancipator,
at nearby Jonesborough.
Embree's untimely death in 1820 effectively ended publication of
The Emancipator, several of Embree's supporters turned to
Ohio abolitionist Benjamin
Lundy (1789-1839), who had started publication of his own
antislavery newspaper, The Genius of Universal
Emancipation, in 1821.
Anticipating that a
southern-based abolitionist movement would be more effective, Lundy
purchased Embree's printing press and moved to Greeneville in 1822.
remained in Greeneville for two years before moving to Baltimore.
He would later prove influential in the
career of William Lloyd
, whom he hired as an associate editor in 1829.
Greenevillians involved in the abolitionist movement included
Hezekiah Balch, who freed his slaves at the Greene County
Courthouse in 1807. Samuel Doak, the
founder of Tusculum
College, followed in 1818. Valentine Sevier
(1780-1854), a nephew of John Sevier who
served as Greene County Court Clerk, freed his slaves in the 1830s
and offered to pay for their passage to Liberia, which had been formed as a colony for freed
Francis McCorkle, the pastor of Greeneville's
, was a leading member of the Manumission
Society of Tennessee.
In June 1861, on the eve of the American Civil War
, 30 counties of the
pro-Union East Tennessee Convention
met in Greeneville to discuss strategy after state voters had
elected to join the Confederate States of America
The convention sought to create a separate state in East Tennessee
that would remain with the United States. The state government
in Nashville rejected the convention's request, however, and
East Tennessee was occupied by Confederate forces shortly
Statue of Andrew Johnson at the Andrew Johnson National Historic
Andrew Johnson (1808-1875), the 17th President of the United
States, spent much of his active life in Greeneville. In 1826, Johnson
arrived in Greeneville after fleeing an apprenticeship in Raleigh,
Johnson chose to remain in Greeneville
after learning that the town's tailor
planning to retire. Johnson purchased the tailor shop, which he
moved from Main Street to its present location at the corner of
Depot and College streets. Johnson married a local girl, Eliza McCardle
, in 1827. The two were
married by Mordecai Lincoln (1778-1851), who was Greene County's
Justice of the Peace. He was a cousin of Abraham Lincoln
, whom Johnson would serve as
In the late 1820s, a local artisan named Blackstone McDannel often
stopped by Johnson's tailor shop to debate issues of the day,
especially the Indian Removal
Johnson opposed. Johnson and McDannel decided to debate the issue
publicly. The interest sparked by this debate led Johnson,
McDannel, and several others to form a local debate society. The
experience and influence Johnson gained in debating local issues
helped him get elected to the Greeneville City Council in 1829. He
was elected mayor of Greeneville in 1834, although he resigned
after just a few months in office to pursue a position in the
Tennessee state legislature, which he attained the following year.
As Johnson rose through the ranks of political office in state and
national government, he used his influence to help Greeneville
constituents obtain government positions, among them his long-time
supporter, Sam Milligan, who was appointed to the Court of Claims
in Washington, D.C.
Andrew Johnson National Historic
Site, located in Greeneville, was listed on the National Register of
Historic Places in 1963.
Contributing properties include
Johnson's tailor shop at the corner of Depot Street and College
Street. The site also maintains Johnson's house on
Main Street and the Andrew Johnson National
Cemetery (atop Monument Hill to the south).
of Johnson's birth home and a life-size statue of Johnson have been
placed across the street from the visitor center and tailor
As of the census
of 2000, there were 15,198
people, 6,641 households, and 4,097 families residing in the town.
The population density
417.9/km². There were 7,212 housing units at an average density of
513.6/sq mi (198.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was
, 5.74% African American
, 0.02% Pacific Islander
, 0.88% from
, and 0.60%
from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 1.49% of the
Depot Street, part of the Greeneville Historic District
There were 6,641 households out of which 25.5% had children under
the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples
living together, 13.9% had a female
householder with no husband present, and 38.3% were non-families.
34.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.1% had
someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average
household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.78.
In the town the population was spread out with 21.3% under the age
of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 24.3% from 45 to
64, and 20.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was
41 years. For every 100 females there were 84.4 males. For every
100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.5 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $25,999, and the
median income for a family was $36,129. Males had a median income
of $30,629 versus $21,425 for females. The per capita income
for the town was
$17,126. About 16.5% of families and 20.7% of the population were
below the poverty line
, including 28.5%
of those under age 18 and 18.0% of those age 65 or over.
Greene County Fair
The Greene County Fair is recognized statewide as one of the best
of its size. In 2005, it received the Tennessee Association of
Fairs highest award, the “Champion of Champions” fair trophy. In
2001 and 2004, it was named the AAA division Champion Fair in the
state of Tennessee. In 1994 and 2000, it was named 1st Runner-Up
for the Champion Fair in the AAA Division, and in 1988, received
award for Most Outstanding Fair in Tennessee.
There has been a fair in some form in Greene County since 1870 when
the Farmers and Mechanics Association held its first exposition.
The present Greene County Fair Association was incorporated in
1949. The Fair exists on the support of countless volunteers, board
members and officers since 1949.
- Samuel Doak (1749-1830) Presbyterian
minister, pioneer, founded earliest schools and churches in East
Tennessee. President of Washington College 1795-1818, he moved to
Greeneville and taught at Tusculum Academy, later Tusculum College
from 1818-1830. Delegate to the "Lost State" of Franklin which
convened in Greeneville.
- Andrew Johnson: Alderman and
Mayor of Greeneville, Tennessee. U.S. Senator, U.S. Vice President,
- David "Davy" Crockett: famed
frontiersman and statesman, born at nearby Limestone
- Park Overall, actress
- Scott Niswonger, Chairman and
CEO, Landair Transport and
Image:Andrew-johnson-house-tn1.jpg|Andrew Johnson House on Main
StreetImage:Valentine-sevier-house-tn1.jpg|Valentine Sevier House,
built c. 1795
- Samuel Smith, Historical Background and Archaeological
Testing of the Davy Crockett Birthplace State Historic Area, Greene
County, Tennessee (Nashville, Tenn.: Tennessee Division of
Archaeology, 1980), 3.
- Richard Doughty, Greeneville: One Hundred Year Portrait
(1775-1875) (Kingsport Press, 1974), 3.
- Doughty, 11-13.
- Doughty, 15-16.
- Doughty, 15-17.
- Doughty, 17-19.
- Doughty, 43.
- Tara Mitchell Mielnik, " Benjamin Lundy." The Tennessee Encyclopedia
of History and Culture, 2002. Retrieved: 3 June 2008.
- Doughty, 44-46.
- Doughty, 43-47.
- Eric Lacy, Vanquished Volunteers: East Tennessee
Sectionalism from Statehood to Secession (Johnson City, Tenn.:
East Tennessee State University Press, 1965), pp. 217-233.
- Doughty, 59-60.
- Andrew Johnson National Historic Site - Curriculum
Materials. Retrieved: 3 June 2008.
- Doughty, 59-73.
- E. Alvin Gerhardt, Jr., " Samuel Doak." The Tennessee Encyclopedia of
History and Culture, 2002. Retrieved: 3 June 2008.
- Trefousse, Hans L. Andrew Johnson: A Biography. New
York: W.W. Norton. 1989.
- Michael Lofaro, " David "Davy" Crockett." The Tennessee
Encyclopedia of History and Culture, 2002. Retrieved: 3 June
- The Internet Movie Database:
- " Tusculum Dedicating Sports Complex to Scott
Niswonger on Saturday." Retrieved: 3 June 2008.