Wayne County, Missouri Genealogy

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United States Gotoarrow.png Missouri Gotoarrow.png Wayne County

Guide to Wayne County Missouri genealogy. Birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

Hand and keyboard.jpg Missouri
Online Records

Wayne County, Missouri
Map of the U.S. highlighting Missouri
Location of Missouri in the U.S.
Founded December 11, 1818
County Seat Greenville
Address Wayne County Courthouse
County Courthouse
Greenville, MO 63944
Phone: 573.224.3011
Wayne County Website

County Courthouse


County Clerk has birth and death records 1914-1940;
Clerk Circuit Court Recorder has Court records, marriage records,
divorce and land records; Associate Circuit Court has probate


Anthony Wayne.JPG

The earliest white settlements in what is now Wayne County are said to have been in 1802, when a few settlers arrived from Kentucky, with more coming into the county from North Carolina in 1806.

Prior to county formation in 1818, what became Wayne County was a part of St. Francois Township of Cape Girardeau County.

Wayne County, Missouri is one of Missouri's oldest counties. Wayne County was organized as a county of Missouri Territory on 11 December 1818 by an act of the territorial legislature. This law became effective 1 November 1813.

The county was created from parts of Cape Girardeau and Lawrence Counties. (Most of Lawrence County became part of Arkansas Territory when that territory was created by Congress in March of 1819.)

Greenville became the county seat in 1819, which was the same year in which the town was incorporated. Missouri was not admitted into the Union until 10 August 1821.

Greenville was originally known as Cedar Cabin. In 1941, the town was relocated because of the construction of Lake Wappapello. The new town was located about two miles north of the original site, on a higher elevation.

The first post office opened in Greenville 10 August 1832.

Wayne County comprised a vast area from 1825 to 1831 that is said to have been larger than the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware combined. The county was so large that, at one time, it was known as the "State of Wayne."

The county is named after Revolutionary War General "Mad" Anthony Wayne (1745-1796), not because of any connection to the county, but because he was a popular figure of the time.[2]

Parent County

1818--Wayne County was created 11 December 1818 from Cape Girardeau County. County seat: Greenville [3]

Boundary Changes

Record Loss

The Wayne County courthouse burned in 1853 or 1854, with a complete loss of records. In addition, courthouse records were stolen in 1866. Another fire occurred in 1892, although the extent of damage is uncertain. 

When the 1893-1926 courthouse was in operation, records were scattered in various offices throughout Greenville because of lack of space. Whether this resulted in loss of some records is uncertain.

Places / Localities

Populated Places

Cascade | Clubb | Coldwater | Greenville | Hiram | Leeper | Lodi | Lowndes | McGee | Mill Spring | Patterson | Piedmont | Shook | Silva | Wappapello | Williamsville

Neighboring Counties




For tips on accessing Wayne County, Missouri Genealogy census records online, see: Missouri Census.


Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. For general information about Missouri denominations, view the Missouri Church Records wiki page.

  • Tong, H.F., Historical Sketches of the Baptists of Southeast Missouri. St. Louis: National Baptist Publishing Company, 1888. (Google Books link with complete text)



Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.

See Missouri Land and Property for information about records of land transfers from the government to private ownership. After that transfer, transactions were usually recorded and are currently housed at the county courthouse.

Local Histories

Local histories are available for Wayne County, Missouri Genealogy. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see the Wiki page section Missouri Local Histories.

  • Cramer, Rose Fulton, Wayne County, Missouri. (Google Books)
  • Douglass, Robert Sidney, History of Southeast Missouri, Vol. 1.  Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1912.  (Google Books)





Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Wayne County, Missouri Genealogy newspapers in online catalogs like:


Probate records include wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. For further information, see United States Probate Records.

In Missouri, probate records have usually been recorded by the clerks of the probate courts, but in some counties the common pleas or circuit courts handled this function. They are frequently indexed.


Taxes were levied on free white males over 21 and slaves aged 21 to 60. These persons are referred to as "polls." Tax listings, or digests, of a county generally list the taxable landowners and other polls and the amount of tax. The records for each county are divided by militia district. For more information see the wiki page Missouri Taxation.

Vital Records

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths. For additional guidance on researching and using vital records, see United States Vital Records or How to order Missouri Vital Records.

St. Louis and Kansas City recorded births and deaths starting as early as 1850 for deaths and 1870 for births.  The Missouri Department of Health began keeping birth and death records in 1909. County records vary by year and the county. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Missouri Vital Records State Department of Health, the County Clerk's office or order electronically online.


Societies and Libraries

Family History Centers

Web Sites


  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Wayne County, Missouri. Page 407 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. "Anthony Wayne," Wikipedia.
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).