Developing as a central location for commerce and government among the planters of Washington County, the first town of Greenville, Mississippi was chartered in 1847. Named for General Nathanael Greene, friend of George Washington, for whom the county was named, only 16 years after its founding Greenville was destroyed by Federal Troops during the Civil War. Residents, afraid of rebuilding the town too close to the caving banks of the Mississippi River, decided to rebuild a few miles upstream to the present location of Greenville. The new town was located on Blantonia Plantation, with land given by Mrs. Harriet Blanton Theobald to establish county offices, a jail, and a burial ground.
Separated into white, black, and Jewish sections, the original burial ground donated by Mrs. Theobald was located on the corner of Poplar and Nelson Streets. This original cemetery was established following the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878 and was quickly filled to capacity. A new cemetery was established on Greenway Plantation, along Rattlesnake Bayou. Originally called Greenway Cemetery, civil engineer Richard A O’Hea designed this new cemetery in a wheel and spoke design with a series of eight concentric circles. The center circle contains a Confederate Memorial placed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, while the surrounding circles contain family plots.
Following the establishment of the Greenville Cemetery other cemeteries were established, including the Chinese cemetery, a Jewish cemetery, and Live Oak cemetery.