Greenville Recreation Area

View of old cemetery with the campground in the background.

Have you ever stayed at a campground with a cemetery in it?

We just did.

Our shakedown trip landed us at Greenville Recreation Area located near the town of Greenville, Missouri.

Greenville Recreation Area is an Army Corps of Engineers campground. Because Dan has the National Parks Lifetime Senior Pass, we can camp there, with full hook-ups, for $12 a night. Dan and I were on site #1, a pull-through site, not far from the St. Francis River which runs alongside the campground. The campground is clean and spacious and offers a lot of things to do and places to explore.

Sign for "Wayne County Bank" with cracked, old foundation.

The campground is built on what once was the Old Greenville City. Some of the city’s old roads, sidewalks, and building foundations are still there and can be explored by walking the “Memory Lane Trail.” This trail has signage describing the buildings at the very spot where they once stood many years ago.

Greenville was incorporated as a village in 1893, but being near the St. Francis River, the town often flooded. Once the Wappapello Lake Dam was built, it was decided the town should move two miles to the north. The move was completed in 1941.

Our campsite was adjacent to where the Wayne County Courthouse once stood.

View of steps where the old courthouse once stood.
Sign for Wayne County Courthouse.

The town’s cemetery was not moved and stayed right where it was even when the campground was constructed. Dan and I spent some time exploring this old cemetery. I was interested in how old the graves were, trying to find the oldest one. I also read the inscriptions about someone’s dear mother and noticed how the person buried was often described as someone’s wife or daughter. Dan would remark on how long someone had lived. “She was only 35!” “This child was only eight months old.” What would you notice?

Old headstone.
Born Sep.10.1794.N.Y.
Died Nov.27.1867.at Greenville.
Old headstone.
Died November 20th, 1853
Aged 35 years 5 months 5 days.

The cemetery was quite fascinating to me. Those headstones reveal little bits of history and lives lived for those who take the time to notice. One couldn’t help but also notice some relics from the Civil War.

Unknown Confederate Soldier Graves
Picture of cemetery, including a fenced "Union Cem." area with one grave.
There is only one grave in the Union Cemetery

The date on all five of the Unknown Confederate Soldiers’ graves is the same: July 20, 1862. I could not read the date on the one grave in the Union Cemetery. Later, when walking a trail, we came upon a sign describing the “Surprise at Greenville” – a Civil War battle. The date of the battle was July 20, 1862, the same date on the Confederate graves.

Sign describing the "The "Surprise at Greenville," on July 20, 1862.

There’s even more history here.

The site is also part of the “Trail of Tears” National Historic Trail. Right here at Bettis Ford, in December of 1838, more than 1100 Cherokees, 60 wagons and 600 horses crossed the St. Francis River on their 770 mile forced journey to the West. This group was the Benge Detachment which included families from northeastern Alabama. They were one of thirteen groups forced to relocate due to the “Indian Removal Act of 1830.”

Bettis Ford with overlook at the St. Francis River with bridge in the background.  There are 3 signs with historical information.
Bettis Ford
Sign which says "Trail of Tears Original Route."  Also, a lower sign with points left, Stillwell, OK 340 miles.  The sign also points to the right, "Ft. Payne, AL 430 miles."
Sign at Bettis Ford
at the St. Francis River

I’ve only described a small portion of all the history at Greenville Recreation Area. Besides the history aspect, there is plenty to do at this campground. There is river access for boating, fishing, playgrounds for the kiddos and miles of trails to walk or bike. The trail even leads into the modern town of Greenville. I will take you there in my next post.

View of campsite, travel trailer and Ford Expedition.

43 comments

    • Well, there is a campsite right across the street from this old cemetery! And it certainly would be peaceful. I don’t really think of myself as someone who explores cemeteries, but it was really interesting. Thanks for reading and commenting. Enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a unique place and interesting history! I love old cemeteries and their gravestones. I always look at how old or young they were, enjoy the intricate art on many of them and how people are defined. It will be good to learn more about Greenville, with this interesting introduction to Old Greenville!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I could have written a whole post about just the cemetery with all its various headstones, inscriptions, and dates. On some headstones, time had worn away the information. One had just a single letter “E.” Some headstones were fancy, some as simple as a cross, some that had toppled. There was so much history at Old Greenville. There were even a couple signs about the history of the Greenville bridge(s) which crosses the St. Francis River, but I could only absorb so much. I fully expect we will visit this campground again, and each time I will learn a little more.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing! My parents used to live near an old church cemetery and like Dan, I also noticed the ages. The very young who died before their time, and the very old, who lived beyond what you would expect. Cemeteries have their own stories to tell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The park pass gives 50% discount. So, for younger folk or those without the pass, it cost $26 a night. Dan bought the pass back when it was $20. Now it is $80, but that is still a bargain. You never have to buy it again – unless you lose it. We’ve gotten in free at various national parks and areas. We did really enjoy that campground, and I love paying $12 a night.

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      • I bought the senior pass, when I turned 62. It was $80 at that time. We have used the card at a few places to get in free. Looking forward one day to going out west and seeing the national parks there.

        Liked by 1 person

    • We really like the Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds. We haven’t found a bad one yet. Hope I didn’t just jinx myself! You can’t beat the price. I like to learn history, too. I don’t try to learn everything at a place, but just enough that leaves me wanting to learn more later. Those national senior parks pass are the best bargain around!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My husband and I love to explore old cemeteries and check out the tombstones. I worked several years ago for a veterans cemetery. In the Civil War it had been a prison camp and hundreds of confederate soldiers had died and been buried there. There was a card record of the prisoners in the office but nothing for the public to see to be able to locate an ancestor. I spend one summer taking the card record and finding the individual grave and then making a locater map. It was interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That was a very worthwhile project! I am sure it is very helpful to someone looking for a grave and to help them find it is very meaningful work. This was the first time I ever spent any time looking around a cemetery for any length of time. It was very interesting! Hope you have a great week ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well, you didn’t have to worry about your camping neighbors partying too loudly! 🙂 This is the first time we camped there, but it definitely won’t be the last! We really liked it, too! Enjoy your day!

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  4. My wife is from upstate New York. I visited a cemetery in her home town with a few graves from the late 1600’s. What struck me was how thin and weathered the old headstones were! Most of them were illegible. We could only make out a bit of a name or part of the dates.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi David. There were a number of headstones that were too hard to read. On some, all the lettering had been worn off. The late 1600’s is pretty long ago! I wonder if these will still be readable in another 100 years. The oldest date I saw was 1794, the year the person was born. There was an inscription on one, and I thought of you, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.” One had just the letter “E.” I thought I could just have a “B.” and be happy with it, but then I thought… hmmm… maybe I should have “ChambersontheRoad” put on it!

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    • I don’t remember how long ago you all left Missouri. I do know that the campground was improved (FHUs were added to every site) and reopened in 2019. I did not realize how much history was there. Safe travels!

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    • That what’s Dan noticed. I focused more on the year they were born or died. Some listed how many years, months and days the person lived. It was like that on several.

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  5. I don’t recall ever staying in a campground with a graveyard, though we have visited many. Grammi is also fascinated with finding the oldest sites and seeing how long the people lived.

    You just can’t beat staying at Army Corps campgrounds. They are among our favorites along with state and city parks.

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    • It was very unique. Yes, the Army COE campgrounds are the best deal going. We haven’t camped at too many city parks – just one I can think of – but I would like try more of those. Hope you have a good day!

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  6. What a fascinating place to stay. I love old cemeteries and their gravestones. We stayed at a Florida State Park on one trip that had the remains of an old town and it’s cemetery adjacent to it. It was interesting to wander among the headstones and read the inscriptions. You quickly learned that people way back then didn’t usually live to a ripe old age. Enjoy your stay and your adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, many of the people did not live very long. And they sure as heck didn’t have RVs to see the country. Aren’t we lucky to live now? Safe travels, and happy adventures!

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  7. I really enjoy old cemeteries, so yeah I’d definitely camp near one. Sounds like your first camping trip of the season was great. And we love COE campgrounds with the, uh, Old People Pass. Buying that pass was the highlight of my birthday number 62. And the bonus is these campgrounds are generally very nice and well maintained. Here’s to many happy camping trips for both of us this season.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Yes, the COE campgrounds are such a GREAT deal. And you are right; they are often pristine and well run. It’s almost worth getting older. 🙂 Have a great camping season, and I look forward to reading your posts about your trips!

      Liked by 1 person

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