Greenville, Ohio, probably won’t make anyone’s list of Top 10 tourist destinations - it’s smack in the middle of farm country and has a barely breathing industrial base. What happened here generations ago, though, makes this town quite a special place to visit - and thousands do so every year.
The city is arguably best known for its connections to Gen. Anthony "Mad" Anthony Wayne, who in 1793 built the second official settlement in Darke County along Greenville Creek. This military headquarters was the largest log fortified structure ever built, encompassing more than 55 acres. Two years later came the signing of the Treaty of Greene Ville, marking the defeat of Native Americans and opening the Northwest Territory for settlement.
In the downtown are three historic markers commemorating these events. In Greenville City Park is the Altar of Peace, another monument commemorating the signing. Also in the park is the Anthony Wayne Peace Council House, which honors the 13 Native American tribes who signed the treaty.
The city also honors "Little Miss Sure Shot." Born Phoebe Ann Moses in 1860 in Darke County, she supported her poor family by shooting game and selling it to restaurants and grocers in Greenville and neighboring towns. Her stage name, Annie Oakley, was adopted after she met and married another sharpshooter, Frank Butler; together, they traveled with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show for 17 years.
Today, a life-size bronze statue of Annie is the centerpiece of a small park in downtown Greenville. And just across town, the largest known collection of Annie Oakley memorabilia is housed at the Garst Museum on North Broadway Avenue. Admission is $3 for adults.
The museum collections also honor Lowell Thomas, a world traveler, author and well-known radio news commentator who was born in nearby Woodington. Also featured is information about Zachary Lansdowne, commander of the U.S.S. Shenandoah. His birthplace home on East Third Street is a now a private residence.
Many of the downtown buildings are part of a nationally designated Historic District, including the stately courthouse that’s still in use (Greenville is the County Seat of Darke County). A more recent addition is the 7,500-square-foot Whirlpool’s KitchenAid Experience on South Broadway - a museum, outlet store, demonstration area, and factory in one.
When we spend the night, it’s usually at the Greenville Inn on Martin Street, but there’s also a Holiday Inn Express and Comfort Inn. For lunch, don’t miss the Maid-Rite Restaurant on North Broadway. Long known for the finely ground hamburger sandwiches made from a secret recipe, folks also come from far and wide to see the chewing gum (used) that adorns the exterior brick walls. You’ll be hard pressed to find a spot to stick yours!
Just a few miles east of town is Bear's Mill, a restored grist mill built in 1849. It’s still in use today to grind cornmeal, whole wheat flour, rye flour, and pancake mixes and is open for self-guided tours during regular business hours.