Historical Markers
Greene County Historical Marker
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Greene County

Laurel Highlands/Southern Alleghenies


Marker Location:
County Courthouse, High St., Waynesburg

Dedication Date:
May 3, 1982

Behind the Marker

Map of Pennsylvania's disputed borders
Map of Pennsylvania's disputed borders
Between 1776 and 1800 settlers formed twenty new counties in Pennsylvania, many of them on land in the northern and western regions of the state that only a few years before had been claimed by neighboring states. Typical of these was Greene County, organized in 1796.

Virginians had begun to settle the region in the 1760s, laying claim to it under the colony's original "sea to sea" charter, which King James had granted the Virginia Company in 1609. Pennsylvania, however, also laid claim under William Penn's original grant from King Charles II in 1681. The colonies' western boundaries, however, were not of practical significance until the arrival of the American Revolution in 1775. A year later, Virginians organized the first county court west of the Monongahela River, at Augusta Town, in present-day Washington County - then known as "Augusta County."

The American Revolution forced both states to address the issue of western boundaries. In 1781, both commissioners from both states reached an agreement, drawing a Line in which Virginia ceded the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania ceded the northern panhandle of what is now West Virginia. Few whites moved into southwestern Pennsylvania, however, until after General Anthony Wayne eliminated the threat of Indian attacks with his victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794.
Green County highlighted on the map of Counties incorporated from 1784 Pennsylvania land purchase.
Greene County

As the population grew, Pennsylvania subdivided its few large western counties into smaller counties. On February 9, 1796, the Pennsylvania Assembly designated a 577-square mile region of Washington County - itself created in 1781- Greene County. Following the practice of the period, in which Pennsylvanians named the new towns and counties after Revolutionary War heroes, Greene County was named in honor of General Nathanael Greene. Greene, a native of Rhode Island, had served as Quartermaster General of the Continental Army from 1778 to 1780, and then commanded the Southern Department from 1780 to 1783. There, he had been a courageous and resourceful commander, especially in victories over the British in Georgia and the Carolinas.
Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania, by Thaddeus Mortimer. Fowler and James B. Moyer, 1897.
Birdseye view of Waynesburg, Greene County, PA, 1897.

The legislative act that created Greene County named David Gray, Stephen Gapin, Isaac Jenkinson, William Meetkerke, and James Seals the commissioners who were to select a site for the county seat. On October 28, 1796, they purchased a 158-acre tract of land owned by a farmer, Thomas Slater. Named "Waynesburg," after Revolutionary War General Anthony Wayne, who had just led the United States Army that defeated the Indians in the Ohio Valley, the new county seat was incorporated as a borough on January 29, 1816.

Many of the farmers who settled in Greene County were second-generation New Englanders. In addition to growing a variety of crops, they also raised sheep and, by the 1820s, became the leading wool producers in Pennsylvania. Greene County is still the largest sheep-raising county in the state. Greene County also had rich deposits of oil and bituminous coal. After the Civil War, the County a significant producer of crude oil and center of the state's thriving coke industry, which for decades fueled the great steel mills of western Pennsylvania.
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