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Wayne County is a county located in the Ozark Foothills Region of Southeast Missourimarker in the United Statesmarker. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the population was 13,259. A 2008 estimate, however, showed the population to be 12,652. The county seat is Greenvillemarker. The county was officially organized on December 11, 1818, and is named after General "Mad" Anthony Wayne who served in the American Revolutionary War.


Wayne County was created in December 1818 by the last Missouri Territorial Legislature out of parts of Cape Girardeaumarker and Lawrence counties and thus predates the state of Missourimarker being admitted to the Union. In March 1819, Congress established the Territory of Arkansasmarker and most of Lawrence County, Missouri Territory became Lawrence County, Arkansas Territory. The small strip of “Old Lawrence County” that had been orphaned in Missouri was added to Wayne County by the Missouri State Constitution of 1820. The Osage Strip along the Kansasmarker border was added in 1825. From 1825-1831, Wayne County was an enormous area larger than Massachusettsmarker, Connecticutmarker, Rhode Islandmarker, and Delawaremarker combined. All or part of 32 counties in Missouri were at one point part of Wayne County.

When Wayne County was formed, five commissioners were appointed to govern the county. They chose a small settlement known locally as Cedar Cabin located on the St. Francis River to be the county seat and named it Greenvillemarker. In 1900, Greenville had a population of about 1,000. By 1940, the population had declined to 572. The town was relocated by the construction of Lake Wappapello in 1941 and the new town only had a population of 270 in 1950. Today, approximately 450 people call Greenville home.

The Wayne County Courthouse burned in 1854. The records in the new courthouse were stolen in 1866 and in 1892 the courthouse burned again. In the Census of 1820, the large area of Wayne County had a population of only 1,239 Whites and 204 slaves.


Of all adults 25 years of age and older in Wayne County, 59.7% possessed a high school diploma or higher while 6.8% had a bachelor's degree or higher as their highest educational attainment.

Public Schools

  • Clearwater R-I School District - Piedmontmarker
    • Clearwater Elementary School (PK-04)
    • Clearwater Middle School (05-08)
    • Clearwater High School (09-12)
  • Greenville R-II School District - Greenvillemarker
    • Williamsville Elementary School (PK-06) - Williamsvillemarker
    • Greenville Elementary School (PK-06)
    • Greenville Jr. High School (07-08)
    • Greenville High School (09-12)

Private Schools


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 774 square miles (2,005 km²), of which, 761 square miles (1,971 km²) of it is land (all rural) and 13 square miles (34 km²) of it (1.69%) is water.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

National protected areas


As of the census of 2000, there were 13,259 people, 5,551 households, and 3,841 families residing in the county. The population density was 17 people per square mile (7/km²). There were 7,496 housing units at an average density of 10 per square mile (4/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.68% White, 0.17% Black or African American, 0.58% Native American, 0.11% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.08% from other races, and 1.36% from two or more races. 0.49% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The most common first ancestries reported in Wayne County were 32.9% Americanmarker, 15.0% German, 11.9% English, 11.7% Irish, 3.0% French (excluding Basque), 2.0% Dutch and 2.0% Italian, according to Census 2000.

There were 5,551 households out of which 27.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.20% were married couples living together, 9.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.80% were non-families. 27.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.84.

In the county the population was spread out with 23.20% under the age of 18, 6.70% from 18 to 24, 23.50% from 25 to 44, 26.80% from 45 to 64, and 19.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 98.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $29,166, and the median income for a family was $34,727. Males had a median income of $26,241 versus $17,232 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,852. About 17.90% of families and 21.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.70% of those under age 18 and 15.60% of those age 65 or over.

As of 2008, the unemployment rate in Wayne County is 7.0%.

Cities and towns



Politics at the local level in Wayne County is mostly controlled by the Democratic Party. In fact, all but four of Wayne County's elected officeholders are Democrats.

Office Incumbent Party
Assessor Frances K. Huitt Democratic
Circuit Clerk Darren T. Garrison Democratic
Clerk Alan R. Lutes Democratic
Collector Mary VanNoy-Hampton Democratic
Commissioner – Eastern District Bill Hovis Republican
Commissioner – Western District Chad Henson Republican
Coroner Gary Umfleet Democratic
Presiding Commissioner Brian M. Polk Democratic
Prosecuting Attorney Robert M. Ramshur Democratic
Public Administrator Donna Eads Republican
Recorder Charity Barks Democratic
Sheriff Phillip P. Burton Republican
Treasurer Carol Hale Democratic


Past Gubernatorial Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2008 44.62% 2,727 53.49% 3,269 1.88% 115
2004 58.84% 3,649 39.86% 2,472 1.31% 81
2000 51.84% 3,008 46.25% 2,684 1.92% 111
1996 42.84% 2,421 55.11% 3,114 2.05% 116

Wayne County is divided among three legislative districts—153, 156, 159—in the Missouri House of Representativesmarker.
  • District 156 – Rep. Shelley Keeney (R-Marble Hillmarker) Consists of Greenville and Piedmont and most of Wayne County. In 2008, Keeney defeated Michael Winder (D-Marquandmarker) 54-46 percent; Wayne County backed Keeney with 53.82 percent of the vote to Winder’s 46.18 percent.

  • District 153 – Rep. Mike Dethrow (R-Altonmarker) Consists of the southwestern corner of Wayne County south of Piedmont. Dethrow ran unopposed in 2008 and was reelected with 100% of the vote.

  • District 159 – Rep. Billy Pat Wright (R-Dextermarker) Consists of the southeastern corner of Wayne County, mostly bordering neighboring Stoddard Countymarker. Wright defeated former U.S. Representative Bill Burlison (D) by an almost two-to-one margin; the Wayne County precincts, however, narrowly backed Burlison by eight votes with 50.60 percent of the vote to Wright’s 49.40 percent.

Wayne County is also a part of Missouri's 25th Senatorial District and is currently represented by State Senator Rob Mayer (R-Dexter). In 2008, Mayer defeated Shane M. Stoelting (D) 65.32%-34.68%. Wayne County backed Mayer with 63.11% of the vote while Stoelting received 36.89%. The 25th Senatorial District consists of Butlermarker, Dunklinmarker, New Madridmarker, Pemiscotmarker, Ripleymarker, Stoddardmarker, and Waynemarker counties.

In Missouri's gubernatorial election of 2008, Governor of Missouri Jay Nixon (D) defeated former U.S. Representative Kenny Hulshof with 58.40 percent of the total statewide vote. Nixon performed extremely well and won many of the rural counties in the state that tend to have a Republican lean. Wayne County was one of these counties. The former attorney general Nixon carried Wayne County with 53.49% of the vote over Hulshof who received 44.62% of the vote in the county.


In the U.S. House of Representatives, Wayne County is represented by Jo Ann Emerson (R-Cape Girardeau) who represents all of Southeast Missouri as part of Missouri's 8th Congressional District.

Political Culture

Past Presidential Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2008 61.49% 3,784 36.45% 2,243 2.06% 127
2004 63.17% 3,919 36.27% 2,250 0.57% 35
2000 57.22% 3,346 40.82% 2,387 1.97% 115
1996 38.45% 2,172 48.75% 2,754 12.73% 719

At the presidential level, Wayne County is a fairly independent county or battleground. Unlike many rural counties which are Republican strongholds, voters in Wayne County have seldom been lockstep in their tendencies. While George W. Bush carried Wayne County both times in 2000 and 2004, Bill Clinton also carried the county both times in 1992 and 1996. Like many rural counties in Missouri in 2008, voters in Wayne County favored John McCain over Barack Obama.

However, like most rural areas, voters in Wayne County generally adhere to socially and culturally conservative principles and therefore have a slight tendency to vote Republican. In 2004, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman—it overwhelmingly passed Wayne County with 87.75 percent of the vote. The initiative passed the state with 71 percent of support from voters as Missouri became the first state to ban same-sex marriage. In 2006, Missourians voted on a constitutional amendment to fund and legalize embryonic stem cell research in the state—it failed in Wayne County with 55.15 percent voting against the measure. The initiative narrowly passed the state with 51 percent of support from voters as Missouri became one of the first states in the nation to approve embryonic stem cell research. Despite Wayne County’s longstanding tradition of supporting socially conservative platforms, voters in the county have a penchant for advancing populist causes like increasing the minimum wage. In 2006, Missourians voted on a proposition (Proposition B) to increase the minimum wage in the state to $6.50 an hour—it passed Wayne County with 77.36 percent of the vote. The proposition strongly passed every single county in Missouri with 75.94 percent voting in favor as the minimum wage was increased to $6.50 an hour in the state. During the same election, voters in five other states also strongly approved increases in the minimum wage.

2008 Missouri Presidential Primary

In the 2008 Missouri Presidential Primary, voters in Wayne County from both political parties supported candidates who finished in second place in the state at large and nationally.


Former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansasmarker) won Wayne County with 45.20 percent of the vote. Senator John McCain (R-Arizonamarker) finished in second place in Wayne County with 30.48 percent. Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Massachusettsmarker) came in third place, receiving 19.73 percent of the vote while libertarian-leaning U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-Texasmarker) finished fourth with 2.81 percent in Wayne County.

Huckabee slightly led Missouri throughout much of the evening until the precincts began reporting from St. Louis where McCain won and put him over the top of Huckabee. In the end, McCain received 32.95 percent of the vote to Huckabee’s 31.53 percent—a 1.42 percent difference. McCain received all of Missouri’s 58 delegates as the Republican Party utilizes the winner-take-all system.


Voters in Wayne County gave former Senator and now Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New Yorkmarker) a massive three-to-one victory over former Senator and now President Barack Obama (D-Illinoismarker). Clinton carried Wayne County with 75.94 percent of the vote while Obama only received 18.70 percent of the vote. Although he withdrew from the race, former U.S. Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolinamarker) still received 3.70 percent of the vote in Wayne County.

Clinton had a large initial lead in Missouri at the beginning of the evening as the rural precincts began to report, leading several news organizations to call the state for her; however, Obama rallied from behind as the heavily African American precincts from St. Louismarker began to report and eventually put him over the top. In the end, Obama received 49.32 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 47.90 percent—a 1.42 percent difference. Both candidates split Missouri’s 72 delegates as the Democratic Party utilizes proportional representation.

  • Wayne County was Hillary Rodham Clinton’s second-strongest county in the Missouri Democratic Primary of 2008; only in Dunklin Countymarker did she do slightly better. Also, she received more votes, a total of 1,458, than any candidate from either party in Wayne County during the 2008 Missouri Presidential Primaries.


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