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Greenville, Mississippi is the seat of government for Washington County. Although French explorers came through the area in the early 1700s, it was largely inhabited by the indigenous Natchez people until the early 1800s, when European-Americans began settling it, eventually displacing them altogether when the United States passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Prior to that time, a community had developed, and Greenville was founded in 1824 by William W. Blanton. Greenville was named the county seat in 1844, as the previous county seats, New Mexico and Princeton, had both caved into the Mississippi River. Greenville was the third city in Mississippi to bear that name. The first, located to the south, near Natchez, became defunct shortly after the American Revolution, while the second was settled in the early 1800s, and the parent city to the current one, named for General Nathanael Greene, located three miles from the current town site, now buried as part of the city’s industrial fill. Greenville was destroyed by Union troops as part of the Siege of Vicksburg, after troops from a Union gunboat landed at the city, burning every building. Following the War of Northern Aggression, returning Confederate troops found their city ruined, and decided to rebuild at the highest point of the Mississippi River, on the eastern bank of Lake Ferguson, between Vicksburg and Memphis. During the 1930s and 1940s, African-Americans in Greenville, particularly on Nelson Street, developed rich varieties of music, including Delta Blues, Big Band, Jump Blues, and Jazz. Nelson Street was the second site identified by the Mississippi Blues Commission on its Mississippi Blues Trail. At various times, Greenville hosted two minor league baseball teams, the Greenville Bucks and the Greenville Bluesmen, as well as a short-lived American Basketball Association franchise known as the Mississippi Miracles. The puppeteer, Jim Henson, was born in Greenville.


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