kids encyclopedia robot

Greeneville, Tennessee facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Greeneville, Tennessee
Town of Greeneville
North Main Street in Greeneville
North Main Street in Greeneville
Official logo of Greeneville, Tennessee
Home of President Andrew Johnson
Location of Greeneville, Tennessee
Location of Greeneville, Tennessee
Country United States
State Tennessee
County Greene
Founded 1783
Incorporated 1795
Named for Nathanael Greene
 • Type Mayor-Aldermen-Administrator
 • Total 17.01 sq mi (44.1 km2)
1,519 ft (463 m)
 • Total 15,062
 • Density 885.3/sq mi (341.8/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
37616, 37743 & 37745 (General Delivery) and 37744 (P.O. Boxes)
Area code(s) 423
FIPS code 47-30980
GNIS feature ID 1286186
Website Town of Greeneville, Tennessee

Greeneville is a town in, and the county seat of Greene County, Tennessee, United States. The population as of the 2010 census was 15,062. The town was named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene. It is the only town with this spelling in the United States, although there are numerous U.S. towns named Greenville. The town was the capital of the short-lived State of Franklin in the 18th-century history of the Tennessee region.

Greeneville is notable as the town where President Andrew Johnson began his political career when elected from his trade as a tailor. He and his family lived there most of his adult years. It was an area of strong abolitionist and Unionist views and yeoman farmers, an environment which influenced Johnson's outlook.

The Greeneville Historic District was established in 1974.

The U.S. Navy Los Angeles-class submarine USS Greeneville (SSN-772) was named in honor of the town.

The town officially hosts the Greeneville Astros baseball club of the Appalachian League, though the club actually plays in the nearby city of Tusculum.

Greeneville is part of the Johnson City-Kingsport- Bristol TN-VA Combined Statistical Area – commonly known as the "Tri-Cities" region.


Greeneville is located at 36°10′6″N 82°49′21″W / 36.16833°N 82.82250°W / 36.16833; -82.82250 (36.168240, -82.822474). It lies in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. These hills are part of the Appalachian Ridge-and-Valley Province, which is characterized by fertile river valleys flanked by narrow, elongate ridges. Greeneville is located roughly halfway between Bays Mountain to the 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 town.

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 11E (Andrew Johnson Highway), which connects Greeneville with Morristown to the west, intersects U.S. 321 in Greeneville and the merged highway proceeds northeast to Johnson City. Tennessee State Route 107, which also follows Main Street and Andrew Johnson Hwy, Greeneville to Erwin to the east and to the Del Rio area to the south. Tennessee State Route 70 (Lonesome Pine Trail) connects Greeneville with Interstate 81, and Rogersville to the north and Asheville, North Carolina to the south. Tennessee State Route 172 (Baileyton Road) connects Greeneville with Interstate 81 and Baileyton to the north.

Tennessee State Route 93 (Kingsport Highway) connects Greeneville to Interstate 81, Fall Branch and Kingsport to the north.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 17.01 square miles (44.1 km2), all land.


Climate data for Greeneville, Tennessee
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F 47 52 61 69 78 85 88 87 82 72 61 50 69
Average low °F 24 28 33 41 51 60 64 63 55 43 34 27 44
Precipitation inches 3.15 3.66 3.43 3.86 4.06 4.09 4.69 4.29 3.23 2.09 2.83 3.35 42.73
Average high °C 8.3 11.1 16.1 20.6 25.6 29.4 31.1 30.6 27.8 22.2 16.1 10 20.6
Average low °C -4.4 -2.2 0.6 5 10.6 15.6 17.8 17.2 12.8 6.1 1.1 -2.8 6.7
Precipitation mm 80 93 87.1 98 103.1 103.9 119.1 109 82 53.1 71.9 85.1 1,085.3
Source: US Climate Data


  • Buckingham Heights
  • Cherrydale
  • Oak Hills
  • Windy Hills


Early history

Big Spring in Greeneville
Big Spring in downtown Greeneville

Native Americans were hunting and camping in the Nolichucky Valley as early as the Paleo-Indian period (c. 10,000 B.C.). A substantial Woodland period (1000 B.C. - 1000 A.D.) village existed at the Nolichucky's confluence with Big Limestone Creek (now part of Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park). By the time the first Euro-American settlers arrived in the area in the late 18th century, the Cherokee claimed the valley as part of their hunting grounds. The Great Indian Warpath 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 as 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.

The county was named after 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 50 acres (0.20 km2) 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 becomes capital of the State of Franklin

Replica of the Capitol of the State of Franklin in Greeneville

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, abandoning responsibility for the area to the federal government. In response, delegates from Greene and neighboring counties convened at Jonesborough and resolved to break away from North Carolina and establish an independent state. The delegates agreed to meet again later that year to form a constitution, which was rejected when presented to the general delegation in December. Reverend Samuel Houston (not to be confused with the later governor of Tennessee and Texas) had presented a draft constitution which 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). John Sevier was elected governor, and other executive offices were filled.

A petition for statehood for what would have become known as the State of Franklin (named in honor of Benjamin Franklin) was drawn at the delegates session in May 1785. The delegates submitted a petition for statehood to Congress, which failed to gain the requisite votes needed for admission to the Union. The first state legislature of Franklin met in December 1785 in a crude log courthouse in Greeneville, which had been named the capital city the previous August. During this session, the delegates finally approved a constitution which was based on, and quite similar to, the North Carolina state constitution. However, the Franklin movement began to collapse soon thereafter, with North Carolina reasserting its control of the area the following spring.

In 1897, 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 abolitionist movement in the early 19th century. 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.

When Embree's untimely death in 1820 effectively ended publication of The Emancipator, several of Embree's supporters turned to Ohio abolitionist Benjamin Lundy, 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. Lundy remained in Greeneville for two years before moving to Baltimore. He would later prove influential in the career of William Lloyd Garrison, 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 slaves. Francis McCorkle, the pastor of Greeneville's Presbyterian Church, was a leading member of the Manumission Society of Tennessee.

Civil War

Artist's depiction of a Union soldier firing the shots that killed General John Hunt Morgan in Greeneville in 1864

In June 1861, on the eve of the Civil War, thirty 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 thereafter. Thomas Dickens Arnold, a Greeneville resident and former congressman who attended the convention, advocated the use of violent force to allow East Tennessee to break away from Tennessee, and taunted other members of the convention who advocated a more peaceful set of resolutions.

Several conspirators involved in the pro-Union East Tennessee bridge burnings lived near what is now Mosheim, and managed to destroy the railroad bridge over Lick Creek in western Greene County on the night of November 8, 1861. Two of the conspirators, Jacob Hensie and Henry Fry, were executed in Greeneville on November 30, 1861.

A portion of James Longstreet's army wintered in Greeneville following the failed Siege of Knoxville in late 1863. Confederate general John Hunt Morgan was killed in Greeneville during a raid by Union soldiers led by Alvan Cullem Gillem on September 4, 1864.

Andrew Johnson

Statue of Andrew Johnson at the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site

Andrew Johnson, 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 was 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, under whom Johnson would serve as Vice President.

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, which 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.

Whilst Andrew Johnson was away from home, during his vice-presidency, both union and confederate armies often used his home as a place to stay and rest during their travel. Soldiers left graffiti on the walls of Johnson's home. Confederate soldiers left notes on the walls expressing their displeasure, to put it delicately, of Johnson. Evidence of this can still be seen at the Andrew Johnson home. Andrew Johnson had to almost completely renovate his home after he returned home from Washington D.C.

The 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). A replica of Johnson's birth home and a life-size statue of Johnson have been placed across the street from the visitor center and tailor shop.

2011 Tornadoes

The rural community of Camp Creek south of Greeneville was severely affected by an EF-3 tornado in the outbreak on the night of April 27–28, 2011. Six people were killed immediately and a seventh died later. Horse Creek, southeast of Greeneville, was also hit by an EF-3 tornado during the same outbreak. One person was killed in that community. A total of eight were killed in Greene County..


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 660
1870 1,039
1880 1,066 2.6%
1890 1,779 66.9%
1900 1,817 2.1%
1910 1,920 5.7%
1920 3,775 96.6%
1930 5,544 46.9%
1940 6,784 22.4%
1950 8,721 28.6%
1960 11,759 34.8%
1970 13,722 16.7%
1980 14,097 2.7%
1990 13,532 −4.0%
2000 15,198 12.3%
2010 15,062 −0.9%
Est. 2015 15,094 0.2%

As of the 2010 census, there were 15,062 people, 6,506 households, and 4,020 families residing in the town. The population density was 885.3 per square mile (341.8/km2). There were 7,399 housing units. The racial makeup of the city was 89.1% White, 5.6% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 2.3% from other races, and 2% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 4.4% of the population.

There were 6,506 households out of which 24.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.2% were married couples living together, 14.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.6% were non-families. 36.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.2 and the average family size was 2.86.

The age distribution was 21.2% under 18 and 21% who were 65 or older. The median age was 42.6 years. The median income for a household in the city was $51,692. The per capita income for the city was $24,376. About 13.9% of the population was below the poverty line.


  • Greeneville Light and Power System (GLPS) provides electricity to all of Greene County and small portions of Cocke and Washington counties.
  • Greeneville Water Commission (GWC) provides water to Greeneville and some areas just outside the city limits.

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 first runner-up for the Champion Fair in the AAA Division, and in 1988, received the 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-day Greene County Fair Association was incorporated in 1949. The Fair exists on the support of countless volunteers, board members and officers since 1949. The fair holds many various events such as the "Fairest of the Fair" event, in which different young ladies are crowned based on voluntary activities and their performance in the pageant.

The fair was also an inspiration for The Band Perry's song "Walk Me Down The Middle", which was featured on their eponymous debut album.


Town of Greeneville Parks and Recreation Department maintains:

  • Dogwood Park
  • Ginny Kidwell Amphitheater at Dogwood Park
  • Hardin Park
  • Highland Hills Park
  • J.J. Jones Memorial Park
  • Kinser Park (Kinser Park is Co-owned by the Town of Greeneville and Greene County)
  • Veterans Memorial Park (Forest Park)
  • Wesley Heights Park

Andrew Johnson National Historic Site is located in downtown Greeneville.

Photo gallery

kids search engine
Greeneville, Tennessee Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.