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Greenville, Illinois

Greenville, Illinois
Bond County Courthouse is located in Greenville's public square. The Bond County Soldiers and Sailors Monument is located on the courthouse grounds.
Country United States
State Illinois
County Bond
Elevation 500 ft (152 m)
Area 6.19 sq mi (16 km2)
 - land 6.19 sq mi (16 km2)
 - water 0.00 sq mi (0 km2)
Population 7,000 (2010)
Density 1,130.9 / sq mi (437 / km2)
Founded Municipal corporation, 1872
Mayor Alan Gaffner
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 62246
Area code 618
Location of Greenville within Illinois
Wikimedia Commons:
Website: .com.greenvilleillinoiswww

Greenville is a city in Bond County, Illinois, United States, 43 miles (69 km) east of St. Louis. The population as of the 2010 census was 7,000.[1] It is the county seat of Bond County.[2]

Greenville is part of the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area.[3] It is also considered part of the Metro East region of Illinois.

Greenville is celebrating its Bicentennial in 2015 and has been called a "Norman Rockwell town."[4][5] It is home to Greenville College, the Richard Bock Museum, the American Farm Heritage Museum, the Armed Forces Museum and the Demoulin Museum and a federal prison, Federal Correctional Institution, Greenville (FCI Greenville).[6][7] It is also home to internationally known companies, including Nevco Scoreboard, the largest privately owned scoreboard company in the world, and DeMoulin Brothers, the world's oldest and largest manufacturer of band uniforms.[8][9]


  • History 1
  • Education 2
  • Historical businesses 3
  • Events 4
  • Greenville College bands 5
  • Places of interest 6
  • Government 7
  • Media 8
  • Geography 9
  • Recreation 10
  • Demographics 11
  • Notable people 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


Greenville was founded by George Davidson in 1815 in what was then the Illinois Territory, when he purchased 160 acres (65 ha) along the bluff overlooking Little Shoal Creek, in what was then still part of Madison County. Davidson built a tavern near the present-day intersection of Main and Sixth streets, and by 1816 he was selling individual lots.[10] The federal government established its first federal post office in Greenville in 1819. It was incorporated as a town in 1855 and as a city in 1872. At one time, it had neighborhoods called New Jerusalem, Piety Hill, Cobtown, and Buzzard Roost.[11] A few possible reasons have been put forth for the naming of the town. Some think the town was named after Greenville, North Carolina, which had been named after Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene.[12] Others say that Greenville was named by early settler Thomas White because it was "so green and nice". A third possibility is that Greenville was named after Green P. Rice, the town's first merchant.[11]

Greenville became the county seat of Bond County in 1821. The earlier seat of Perryville was annexed into Fayette County when it was formed from part of Bond County, requiring the naming of a new seat. Davidson offered to give the county government land around the present-day town square. His offer was accepted, and a courthouse was built in 1821 on the site of the current courthouse.[10]

During the 1840s, some Bond County residents conducted slaves to freedom on the

  • City of Greenville official website
  • WGEL, Greenville's radio station
  • Bond County Community Unit #2 School District

External links

  1. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Greenville city, Illinois". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Greenville, Illinois Bicentennial". Greenville Bicentennial. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  5. ^ Ladage, Cindy (August 26, 2010). "Surprising Greenville". Illinois Times. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  6. ^ Berger, Kathleen (2011-07-02). "WW II Alligator tank featured in films is first to be hauled off". KSDK. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  7. ^ "FCI Greenville". Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  8. ^ "History". Nevco. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  9. ^ "DeMoulin". DeMoulin Brothers. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Carson, Will (1905). Historical Souvenir of Greenville, Illinois. Effingham, IL: LeCrone Press. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Allan H. Keith, Historical Stories: About Greenville and Bond County, IL. Consulted on August 15, 2007.
  12. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 144. 
  13. ^ a b c d e "Several Stops On 'Underground Railroad' In Bond County". Greenville Advocate. November 11, 2008. 
  14. ^ "Liberty Bell Attracts Crowd in Greenville During 1915 Stop". Greenville Advocate. July 3, 2007. 
  15. ^ a b c "Our Readers Speak". Greenville Advocate. November 18, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Obama Visited Cafe in 2004". Greenville Advocate. November 11, 2008. 
  17. ^ a b "G.C. Enrollment Once Again at Record Level". Greenville Advocate. August 30, 2007. 
  18. ^ "Greenville College Is Already Wireless". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  19. ^ a b "Greenville College Announces New AgapeFest Location and Date". Greenville College. October 13, 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "Greenville Center". Kaskaskia College. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  21. ^ Stewart, Norm (2013-11-18). "Greenville's record comeback defies belief". The Belleville News-Democrat. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  22. ^ Cusumano, Frank (2013-11-19). "Greenville looks to make school history after crazy victory". KSDK. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  23. ^ Zettler, Linda (2008-05-04). "‘Redneck Woman’ Gretchen Wilson finishes school". The Tennesseean. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  24. ^ "NASA Kicks Off Partnership with Greenville Students". NASA. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  25. ^ a b c "Lack of Enrollment Results in Closing of GCA in May". Greenville Advocate. July 19, 2007. 
  26. ^ a b "The Greenville Advocate". The Greenville Advocate. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  27. ^ "At AgapeFest, students learn about the music business while sharing their faith". State Journal-Register. May 18, 2008. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  28. ^ "AgapeFest Cancels April 26 Date". Joy FM. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  29. ^ "World Powered Parachute Championship Video". Tim Bayer Productions. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  30. ^ "Flight Under Fabric". WSIU. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  31. ^ "Local AMVETS to Salute Wall". Greenville Advocate. July 17, 2007. 
  32. ^ "Greenville Graffiti Car Show". Riverbender. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  33. ^ "Race Across America". Race Across America. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  34. ^ "Coca Cola Mural on Wall Real Estate Building Restored". WGEL Radio. July 22, 2014. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  35. ^ "City Seeks Lincoln Grant to Draw Visitors to Site". Greenville Advocate. June 14, 2007. 
  36. ^ ~Historic~ Greenville Illinois - Bock Museum - Greenville Chamber of Commerce
  37. ^ [1]
  38. ^ a b "Museum Readies for Third Show". Greenville Advocate. July 26, 2007. 
  39. ^ "Pleased with Heritage Days Results". Greenville Advocate. August 22, 2006. 
  40. ^ Berger, Kathleen (2011-07-02). "Museum readies for Alton exit". Alton Telegraph. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  41. ^ "Bradford National Bank History". Bradford National Bank. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  42. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  43. ^
  44. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files for Places – Illinois". United States Census. Retrieved 2012-05-03. 
  45. ^ "Gateway Skydiving Center". Gateway Skydiving Center. Retrieved 2014-07-27. 
  46. ^ "Governor Bond Lake". City of Greenville. Retrieved 2014-07-27. 
  47. ^ "Carlyle Lake Bike Trail". Rails to Trails Conservancy. Retrieved 2014-07-27. 
  48. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  49. ^ "Colorado Governor Job Adams Cooper". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 25, 2012. 
  50. ^ 'Wisconsin Blue Book 1971,' Biographical Sketch of Gerald Greider, pg. 46


Notable people

The median income for a household in the city was $35,650, and the median income for a family was $45,557. Males had a median income of $26,105 versus $20,889 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,326. About 8.8 percent of families and 11.8 percent of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.0 percent of those under age 18 and 9.9 percent of those age 65 or over.

In the city the population was spread out with 15.9 percent under the age of 18, 18.1 percent from 18 to 24, 32.7 percent from 25 to 44, 18.7 percent from 45 to 64, and 14.6 percent who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 143.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 152.5 males.

There were 2,019 households, out of which 30.0 percent had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.7 percent were married couples living together, 10.0 percent had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.6 percent were non-families. 33.4 percent of all households were made up of individuals and 17.7 percent had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.90.

As of the census[48] of 2000, there were 6,955 people, 2,019 households, and 1,280 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,337.0 people per square mile (516.4/km²). There were 2,171 housing units at an average density of 417.3 per square mile (161.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 82.40 percent White, 15.44 percent African American, 0.62 percent Native American, 0.47 percent Asian, 0.37 percent from other races, and 0.69 percent from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.46 percent of the population.


Governor Bond Lake, a 775-acre man-made lake named after the first governor of Illinois, Shadrach Bond, is near Greenville. It was built in the late 1960s to supply water to the city and is now also used for fishing, boating, camping and other recreational purposes.[46] Greenville is 17 miles from the largest man-made lake in Illinois, Carlyle Lake, which is one of the most popular recreational areas in southern Illinois.[47]

Greenville Municipal Airport is located 3 mi south of downtown at 38° 50′ 10″ N, 89° 22′ 42″ W. It has one of the closest skydiving centers to St. Louis, the Gateway Skydiving Center.[45]


According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 6.19 square miles (16.0 km2), all land.[44]

The National Road passes through Greenville. East of Greenville it follows Illinois Route 140, and west it follows U.S. Route 40. Its route west of town was the source of a historic controversy. Original plans were to connect Greenville to St. Louis. However, the Illinois General Assembly preferred a route to Alton in order to favor an Illinois city directly on the Mississippi River. When federal money for the road ran out in 1840 at Vandalia, 19 miles east of Greenville, the State Legislature refused to fund it further. Residents of Greenville, Highland, Troy, and Collinsville paid to complete the road to East St. Louis. The "State Policy" of favoring Alton over St. Louis remained a major political issue in Illinois until the Civil War.[43]

Greenville is also located on Illinois Route 127, which is a major north-south route connecting Southern Illinois to Springfield.

Greenville is located near the center of Bond County at (38.8895, -89.4036).[42] U.S. Route 40 and Interstate 70 pass to the south of downtown, both highways leading west 49 miles (79 km) to St. Louis and east 19 miles (31 km) to Vandalia.


In addition to long-running Greenville newspaper The Advocate, Greenville's radio station WGEL covers local and county news. The station is a country music station with the tagline "The Best Country in the Country."


Circuit Clerk: Rex Catron

Assistant State's Attorney: Dora Mann

State's Attorney: Chris Bauer

Bond County Treasurer: Katie Weiss

Supervisor of Assessments: Deb Langham

Bond County Clerk: Randy Reitz

Bond County Sheriff: Jeff Brown

Honorable Circuit Judge: John D. Knight

City Manager: Dave Willey

Mayor: Alan Gaffner

Current government officials in Greenville include:

Greenville has had a mayor and city council form of government since 1957.

During the first half of the 20th century, the Anti-Saloon Party was a player in local politics, with aldermen and mayors being elected from the ticket in 1911, 1913, 1917, and 1953.[15] After the 1953 election, a "city manager" style of government was voted in, which provided for non-partisan city council members.[15]

The first mayor of Greenville, James Bradford, was elected in 1873. He was the owner of Bradford and Son bank,[11] which is still in existence today as Bradford National Bank. Bradford later went on to serve in the Illinois Legislature.[41]


In 2011, the St. Louis Armed Forces Museum, which had long been located in Alton, Illinois, relocated to the American Farm Heritage Museum, due to the Greenville museum's tourist traffic and visible location on Interstate 70.[40]

Greenville also hosts the American Farm Heritage Museum, a museum which aims to preserve agricultural history.[37] The museum features exhibits of tractors and other farm-related memorabilia and holds multiple festivals a year. It held its third annual Heritage Days and was the largest Oliver Corp. equipment show in America in 2007, as the national Oliver show was held outside the US.[38] In 2006, 500 tractors were on display for the event, and 5,000 people were in attendance.[39] In 2008, the show was the site of the Cockshutt international equipment show.[38] The AFHM also has a 15-inch-gage train going around it with approximately one mile of track.

Greenville College is home to the only museum dedicated to the sculptures of Richard Bock,[36] who was an associate of Frank Lloyd Wright and designed many of the sculptures for Wright-designed homes.

Many Sears Catalog Homes- houses made from kits bought from the Sears and Roebuck catalog- are dotted around the town.

A large stone and plaque placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution marks the location where Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas gave speeches while running for the United States Senate in 1858.[11] The city unsuccessfully applied for a grant from the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission to buy the property on South Fifth Street where Lincoln spoke and to create a small Lincoln park.[35] A statue dedicated to county veterans of the Civil War was dedicated on the courthouse lawn in 1903;[11] the courthouse lawn has a Veterans' Memorial in honor of all county veterans.

Greenville is notable for its old-fashioned downtown, with many murals throughout, and many antique shops. The city is currently conducting a restoration project on the downtown murals.[34]

Places of interest

Several bands formed by students at Greenville College have gone on to achieve fame, including:

Greenville College bands

Because of its central location in the country, and its position directly on Interstate 70, Greenville sees many visitors undertaking cross-country walks and bike rides. It serves as a time station for the Race Across America cross-country bike ride.[33]

The Greenville Graffiti Car Show has been held downtown for the past three years and features a large car show with appearances by a nostalgic celebrity downtown. In 2013, Donna Douglas, who played Elly Mae Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies, was the celebrity, and in 2014 Greenville hosted actor James Best, who played Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard.[32]

Greenville conducts the Bond County Fair every August. In 2008, the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Traveling Wall visited Greenville to coincide with the fair activities.[31]

In the past, Greenville has served as the annual host to the World Powered Parachute Championships as the "Chute-Out on the Prairie" at Greenville Airport.[29] The first championship ever held was held in Greenville, which is home to some notable participants of the sport.[30]

For 37 years, Greenville has been the site of the annual multi-day Agape Music Festival, or AgapeFest, a Christian music festival put on by Greenville College students - the only Christian music festival in the country run by students.[27] The festival has hosted many of the most famous Christian bands, along with more mainstream acts like Owl City in 2013. The college announced its intention to move the festival to the Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri for a one-day event in 2014 for the stated reason of appealing to new audiences, but the relocated event was instead cancelled due to low ticket sales the week before it was held.[19][28] The Agape organizers announced that their intention for future years is to return the festival to its traditional home at the Bond County Fairgrounds.


The Watson family operated a pharmacy in Greenville for over 125 years, since 1881; it was sold in 2006, but still maintains the name Watson's Drug Store. Greenville once had a silent movie theatre, the Lyric, and now has a first-run movie theatre, the Globe.[11]

Other historic businesses in Greenville included shoe manufacturer Mayer and Bannister, cigar manufacturers Thomas D. Scheske and H.H. Wirz, and a glove factory, the Greenville Glove Manufacturing Co.[11] In the early 1900s, Greenville had its own power company, Greenville Electric Gas and Power Company, which later was bought by Illinois Power and Light Service.[11]

Historic Greenville businesses also include the Helvetia Milk Condensing Company, which later became the Pet Milk Company. The condensing plant, built in 1899, was the oldest in the world for many years until it was torn down in the early 1990s. Pet also maintained its research and testing center in Greenville. Many products. including Instant Pet, Pet-Ritz pies, Sego diet foods, and Old El Paso products were developed there, along with the first use of food irradiation to increase the Vitamin D content of milk. The remaining research buildings and warehouses were sold to Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals in the 1990s, which continues to operate there today.

While Greenville once hosted three newspapers, The Item, The Sun, and The Advocate, it now has only the twice-weekly Greenville Advocate. The Advocate is the oldest business in Bond County and one of the oldest newspapers in Illinois.[26] Original Advocate owner Jedediah Alexander was friends with Abraham Lincoln and instrumental in bringing Lincoln to Greenville for a visit.[26]

Historical businesses

From 2004 to 2007, Greenville also had a private Christian school, Greenville Christian Academy, run by Smith Grove Baptist Church.[25] However, the school closed due to lack of enrollment in May 2007.[25] Other nearby private school alternatives are Vandalia Christian Academy and Mater Dei High School in Breese.[25]

Greenville Junior High, home of the Bluejays, and Greenville Elementary School, home of the Rockets, round out Greenville's local schools. Although it is referred to as a junior high, Greenville Junior High is now a middle school, with sixth through eighth grades. During the 2006 school year, Greenville Elementary was one of only 25 schools selected nationwide as a NASA Explorer school, a three-year partnership with NASA to promote math, science and space exploration.[24] The 2010 Bluejays baseball team won second place in the Class 3A State Baseball championship, finishing the season with a 24-3 record.

Students from the neighboring towns of Pocahontas and Sorento are part of Bond County School District #2 with Greenville students and attend high school in Greenville. One of these notable students was country singer Gretchen Wilson, who attended GHS but did not graduate.[23]

In addition to its colleges, Greenville is home to Bond County Community Unit #2 High School (usually known as Greenville High School), home of the Comets. Since 2007, the Comets football team has appeared in the Final Four in the IHSA Class 3A state football playoffs five out of seven years: in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013. In 2007 they lost to Columbia, in 2011 they lost to Mount Carmel, and in both 2009 and 2012 they lost to Tolono Unity. The Comets' 2010 playoff run set many state records.[21][22]

Greenville also hosts a satellite center for Kaskaskia College, a community college headquartered in Centralia, Illinois.[20]

Enrollment topped 1,000 students for the first time in the college's history in 2006.[17] The current student body at Greenville College contains over 1,500 students; most are from various Christian denominations.[19] The college currently offers undergraduate degrees in over 50 different programs of study and graduate degrees in education.

In 1992, private Free Methodist college Greenville College celebrated its 100th anniversary and was featured on NBC's Today Show. In 2006, the college was again featured prominently in a Today Show story about the rapid growth of Christian colleges and universities. In 2007, GC had a record enrollment of an estimated 1,100 traditional students.[17] The college was the first campus in America to go completely wireless with its Internet.[18]


On one of his tours across America in his motorhome, sportscaster John Madden stopped in Greenville and enjoyed his time at a truck stop so much that he declared it the "John Madden Hall of Fame." The truck stop has since been torn down.

Illinois native Ronald Reagan visited Greenville on the campaign trail in 1980 and gave a speech on the street in front of the courthouse; his visit is commemorated by a plaque.[15] Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois elected as President in November 2008, visited Greenville while campaigning for his Senate seat in 2004, in a visit hosted by the Bond County Democrats.[16]

On April 18, 1934, during the Great Depression, a group of 500 protesters marched to the Illinois Emergency Relief Commission to lodge complaints about the delivery of emergency supplies from the state and federal governments.[11]

The Greenville Public Library was established as a Carnegie library and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Hogue Hall at Greenville College also appeared on the National Register (it was demolished in 2008).[11]

On November 21, 1915, the Liberty Bell passed through Greenville on its nationwide tour returning to Pennsylvania from the Panama–Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. After that trip, the Liberty Bell returned to Pennsylvania and will not be moved again.[11][14]

When Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas gave speeches in Greenville in 1858 during a campaign for the United States Senate, Douglas said: "Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great and supreme gratification and pleasure to see this vast concourse of people assembled to hear me upon this my first visit to Old Bond."[11] The Illinois State Register reported of the occasion: "I've seen many gatherings in Old Bond county but I never saw anything equal to this and I never expect to."[11]

Greenville College was founded as Almira College, a women's college, in 1855. GC history professor Donald Jordahl has written that Almira College was "one of the earliest extensions westward of an eastern idea favorable toward female education, an early step in the women's suffrage and liberation movement."[11] In 1941, college president H.J. Long "declared the founding of Almira and Greenville ran parallel, for both were founded on prayer."[11] Women in Bond County could vote for the first time in 1914.[11]


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