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This was a very old and influential settlement in Jefferson County which flourished in the first quarter of the last century. It was the largest town on the old Natchez Trace, distant twenty-eight miles from Natchez, and twenty-five miles from Port Gibson. It is said to have been a thriving place in 1798, when Mississippi finally passed under the control of the United States, and the original settlement was called Greenbay after one Henry Green, who lived on the banks of a branch of Cole's Creek, running near the town. The upper part of the town was called Hunston or Huntley, after Abijah Hunt, who had a store there and also erected the first gin in Jefferson county, a public gin, to which all the inhabitants who raised cotton resorted for several years. In 1803, by act of the General Assembly, Thomas Green, Wm. Erwin, Wm. Moss, Jacob Stampley, and David Greenlead, were authorized to purchase additional land from the estate of one David Odom, near Hunt's store for a town. The act of February 21, 1805, recites that "Whereas, a town has been laid out on the lands of the executors of David Odom, deceased, the lands of Abijah Hunt, and the lands of Ferdinand L. Claiborne, adjoining the court house of Jefferson county, and it being necessary that the same should be established by law, therefore, Said town shall be known and distinguished by the name of Greenville, in memory and honor of Major-General Nathaniel Greene, and the same is hereby established agreeably "to the present plan; in the clerk's office of Jefferson county, within six months after the passing of this act. Drury W. Brezeale, Henry D. Downs, Armstrong Ellis, Robert McCray and Robert Cox, be, and they are hereby appointed trustees for the regulation of said town, and vested with full power and authority for that purpose."
"As early as 1799, we read that the Rev. Tobias Gibson, a Methodist missionary, was sent to the Territory and formed societies at Washington, Greenville, and on the Bayou Pierre. The first Baptist missionary in Jefferson county was Dr. David Cooper, who settled near Greenville, and married the widow of Gen. F. L. Claiborne, afterwards removing to Soldier's Retreat, near Washington, where he died. Dr. Cloud, the first Episcopal minister in the county, also resided at Greenville for many years, and is buried somewhere in the hills near the old settlement. Dr. Franklin L. Riley, in writing of the old town, says: "Cato West, David Holmes, Cowles Mead, and General Thomas Hinds, all lived within two miles of old Greenville, and the remains of Col. Cato West and General Hinds now rest in the soil of their respective plantations close by. A little farther away, in the same neighborhood, lived Capt. Bullen, the Harrisons, the Harpers, the Hardens, the Hunts, and other historic families of Mississippi. Only a few miles to the southwest was the famous Maryland settlement, where lived the Woods, the Donohues, the Paynes, and the Bakers . . . Here Jefferson Davis lived in the family of Sheriff Jordan and went to school in his early life. IT was to this place that May and Sutton, members of the notorious Murrill (Mason?) gang of robbers, brought their leader's head in order to get a reward that had been offered therefore."
September 6, 1802, Governor Claiborne wrote t the postmaster-general, asking for a post office at Greenville, "A flourishing little village about twenty-eight miles distant from Natchez, and immediately on the post road to Tennessee. It is situated in the neighborhood of a compact, populous and wealthy settlement, is the county town for Jefferson county, and the place of holding the superior court for Jefferson district." Dr. John Shaw was recommended for postmaster. These requests were granted in November.
It remained the county seat until 1825, when the General Assembly changed the county seat of justice to Fayette, six miles east. Greenville rapidly declined after this and the buildings decayed or were moved away. The last building left standing was the old Cable hotel, and this was burned a few years ago.
Col. John A. Watkins thus writes of old Greenville: "When I first knew Greenville it was a beautiful village, the seat of justice for the county, and boasted one of the oldest bars in the State. Poindexter, Joe Davis, Rankin, Turner, Read, Quitman, and many others--names that will live in history as Governors, Senators, Judges and Representatives in Congress, while several gained distinction as statesmen and orators." And again, "The last time I traveled over this road (the 'Old Robinson Road'), now twenty-five years ago, *** Greenville was a 'deserted village' with one old house tottering to decay and McCullum's blacksmith shop. But as this was many years ago, these have long since paid the debt of nature, and passed beyond the recollection of the present generation."
From: Mississippi Vol. I A-K by Dunbar Rowland, 1907, page 801-803.