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Wayne County, Missouri

Wayne County Education, Geography, and History

County Seat: Greenville
Year Organized: 1818
Square Miles: 761
Court House:

P. O. Box 48
County Courthouse
Greenville, MO 63944-0048

Etymology - Origin of County Name

Named for Anthony Wayne, a Revolutionary War general.


County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

History of Wayne County

Organized by an act of the Territorial Legislature in 1815, dividing the county of New Madrid, and establishing the county of Lawrence... In December, 1818, an act was passed for erecting the southwest part of the county of Cape Girardeau and the eastern part of the county of Lawrence into a separate and distinct county: "Beginning at the southeast corner of the county of Madison, running south on the ridge which divides Crooked Creek and Castor until it strikes the edge of the "Big Swamp," between Jenkin's Creek and Castor; thence down the main channel of said river until it strikes the New Madrid County line, thence south so far that a due west line will leave the plantation of Ed. N. Matthews on the north, thence west to the Osage boundary line, thence north with said line so far that a due east line will intersect the place of beginning." The new county was named Wayne and because of its great size was often spoken of as the "State of Wayne," or "Mother of Counties." Commissioners appointed to fix upon a site for the public buildings were Overton Bettis, James Logan, Solomon Bollinger, William Street, and Ezekiel Rubottom. Courts were held in the home of Ransom Bettis. A county or territorty formed in 1818 from New Madrid, one of the counties of the Missouri Territory. From it was cut off Taney County in 1837, and Ozark in 1841. Named for General Anthony Wayne of Stony Point, of Revolutionary fame, who died December 15, 1796. (Eaton (46) V, p. 72) The first settlements in the county were made in 1800 near the present site of Patterson and Greenville. Joseph Parish, Thomas Ring, Francis Clark, Joseph Doubleway, and Ephraim Stout settled near Patterson. Jacob and Isaac Kelly, Charles, David, and Robert Logan, and E.O. and R. Bettis near Greenville. These men obtained Spanish Land grants while Missouri was still a part of the Spanish territory of Louisianan. The name was given in honor of General Anthony (Mad Anthony) Wayne (1745-1796), of Revolutionary War fame. Wayne was born in East town, Pennsylvania in 1745. He served in the Revolutionary War, when he was associated with General N. Greene. His greatest military work, however, began in 1792 when President Washington appointed him General-in-chief and he organized a company of settle Indian troubles in the Northwest territory. He built Forts Recovery (1793), Fort Adams, Fort Greenville, Fort Defiance, and Fort Wayne (1794). General Wayne terminated a generation of warfare in the Ohio Valley by the treaty of Greenville which was signed August 3, 1795. Wappapello Dam has just been finished (1943), reducing the land area of Wayne County by several thousand acres, but providing protection from St. Francois River floods. (Campbell 437, Bennett, Douglass I 80, Goodspeed 336)

Source: Hamlett, Mayme L. "Place Names Of Six Southeast Counties Of Missouri." M.A. thesis., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1938. Bell, Margaret E. "Place Names In The Southwest Border Counties Of Missouri." M.A. thesis., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1933.

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