History of Greenville, KY
In 1795, a small group of soldier-settlers under the leadership of Colonel William Campbell and General William Russell, having served in the Revolutionary War under General Nathaniel Greene, came to this area to claim their land grants given to them in payment for their service in thewar. This group came from Virginia, North Carolina and a few from Pennsylvania. They first settled a mile and a half west of the site that would later become the central business district of Greenville, building several temporary buildings. “Caney Station”, as the settlement was called, was located in an area that was quickly determined by the settlers to be too low and too far from their fresh water supply. In 1799 they moved to a “site on seven hills” where there were two good springs and where two old Indian trails met. They named their new location GREENVILLE in honor of General Nathaniel Greene. In the decade that followed Alney McLean, Muhlenberg County’s first surveyor and lawyer, drew the plans, laying out Greenville as a town and by 1812 had secured their incorporation and charter as a “City” by the state.
“Greenville and Muhlenberg County have been known as the largest coal producing county in the USA and home of the largest shovel in the world. Although coal mining has waned a bit, the county continues to be among the most beautiful with lots of hunting and fishing and the home of very friendly people.”
Mayor Ed DeArmond
City of Greenville
2007 - Present
Lt. Ephraim M. Brank(Sept 1, 1791 - Sept 5, 1875)
Greenville’s most famous native son is Lt. Ephraim M. Brank, War of 1812 hero. He is historically referred to as the “Kentucky Long Rifleman” because of his heroics during the Battle of New Orleans. Brank’s famous actions have been recorded in several history books and newspaper articles dating back to the 1800s and 1900s. He was credited with shooting several British officers off their horses behind the line of soldiers approaching the American forces. The resulting lack of leadership created chaos among the British that lead to their defeat. Because of his success in making rifle shots well out of rifle range and the effects it had on the battlefield, Ephraim was promoted to lieutenant the next day!
In the last two years a special Ephraim Brank Monument Committee has been formed with the goal of erecting a life-sized statue of Brank to commemorate his contribution to American History. The committee is made up of numerous community leaders and professional people, who have a passion and interest in seeing this historical figure finally honored in the county. Most recently in a meeting this spring, the committee passed a historic motion to enter into contract with one of four sculptors who bid on the project. Raymond Graf, a renowned sculptor from the Louisville area, has been selected to sculpt this monument. The bid for this statue, including the statue, base and bronze plaque, came in at $81,500. Not included in this price was the brick patio/foundation for the piece and any other bronze plaques that might be necessary to completely tell the story of his feat in the Battle of New Orleans. The total estimated cost for this project should be approximately $100,000.
When the monument is complete, it will be the first life size statue in Muhlenberg County and the first and only monument to a War 1812 hero in the state of Kentucky. The committee is actively seeking donations and grants. If you feel passionate about this project and would like to contribute to its completion you may send your tax deductible donation to: City of Greenville “Ephraim Brank Project” at P.O. Box 289, Greenville, KY 42345. Gifts of any size would be greatly appreciated.
Be sure to check this webpage often to see the new Ephraim Brank Monument Brochure! The committee is working diligently to put together a brochure that tells the story of Brank and gives patrons a clear view of the committee’s vision for the monument.
Famous Hollywood movie actor, who was born in nearby Depoy. He appeared in such movies as: Two Lane Blacktop, In the Heat of The Night, The Wild Bunch, Strips, Dillinger.
Alney McLean(1779 - 1841)
Captain in the Kentucky Detached Militia in the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans.
Lawyer and Survey during the incorporation of Greenville United States Representative from Kentucky.
Muhlenberg County’s second U.S.
Congressman (after Alney McLean)
United States Representative from Kentucky from 1837-1839. Buried in the old Caney Station Cemetary
Jonathan SpilmanA composer, born in Greenville in 1812, he died in Illinois in 1896. Spilman composed the music for such classics as “Flow Gently Sweet Afton” and the Christmas classic, “AWAY IN THE MANGER”.
Rev. Barton W. StoneHe married a daughter of Colonel William Campbell, Greenville’s founder. He was west Kentucky’s most noted evangelist in the first half of nineteenth century.
John A. StembridgeA Greenville educator who in 1852 wrote the widely used “Western Speller” text book.
William CampbellHe served as a Colonel during the Revolutionary War under General Nathaniel Green. Under a post war land grant, he settled the community of “Caney Station”, which eventually was relocated some two miles and renamed “Greenville” in honor of his superior general. He is known as the “founding father” of Greenville.
James K. PattersonHe headed the Greenville Presbyterial (Boys) Academy in Greenville, and later was the “First President of University of Kentucky”.
Merle TravisBorn near Greenville, in Rosewood and reared in Ebenezer, he took the Muhlenberg County innovation of “thumb picking” to new heights, spreading its sound Internationally. As a result, he is now a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the National Thumb Pickers Hall of Fame and the Song Writer’s Hall of Fame.
Orval RaymerA musician from Luzerne on the outskirts of Greenville, he played professionally on the Grand Ole Opry. He is said to have been the first to play an electric instrument on the traditional Opry.
Peck HickmanCoach of University of Louisville Cardinals in the 40-60’s and was put in NCAA Hall of Fame.
Roger NewmanPlayed for University of Kentucky Wildcats in the early 60’s under Coach Adolf Rupp.
Danny MorrisBaseball player for the Greenville Blackhawks who made it to the major league team, Minnesota Twins. He was a renown fastball pitcher.
Famous Hollywood Actor, whose most recognizable character was “Rosco P. Coltrane”, the Sheriff on the television show “The Dukes of Hazard.” He has appeared in over 100 movies and made many guest appearances on the “Andy Griffith Show.” He is from the small community of Powderly adjacent to Greenville.
Jim Walker is one of the few flutists in history to have made such indelible marks in so many musical circles. He has left his mark on jazz, pop, classical, television, film and the concert hall. He is a dynamic soloist, legendary orchestral and studio musician, celebrated jazz flutist and an inspiration to countless students worldwide. He has been called a true Renaissance Man of the Flute. Visit his website at www.jimwalkerflute.com.
Want to learn more about Greenville's history? Check out My Kentucky Home Greenville, an entertaining two-part documentary that recounts Greenville's colorful history and current downtown renaissance.