Greenville
(Old Newport)

Perhaps the earliest name for the area that became Greenville was Williams Settlement. Isaac Williams, Jr. of Missouri purchased part of the old Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana around 1868. The land was noted for having moist, fertile soil, and soon other settlers joined Williams in the area. Apparently these settlers had a reputation for being very religious, and by the early 1870s the area was widely known as Gospel Swamp.

In 1871, a school district was created and it was decided that a more formal name was necessary. It was still recently that the new port was established in Newport Bay (then San Joaquin Bay), which would fall within the district, so the name Newport was chosen. The Newport post office opened October 26, 1875. To avoid confusion with Newport Beach, which was founded in the 1880s, the community was also known locally as 'Old Newport.' The post office lasted until September 14, 1901, when free rural mail delivery was provided from Santa Ana.

Around 1908, the Pacific Electric Railway constructed a line connecting Santa Ana to Huntington Beach and placed a station called 'Greenville' at Old Newport. The name was soon applied to the whole area, and in 1918 the school district was even renamed. Also in 1918, the Greenville Bean Growers Association was organized and a large fireproof warehouse was built along the PE line. In 1922 a flood washed out part of the PE line. Passenger service was discontinued, but freight continued to move along the now truncated line to Santa Ana. In 1926, 70,000 sacks of lima beans were shipped from Greenville. In 1955, the number had risen to 83,000, but by 1984 the number dropped to only 10,000. The warehouse was used by the Association until the mid-1980s, and the last lima bean field gave way to development in the early 2000s.

Today, little remains of old Greenville, which has since been annexed into Santa Ana and Costa Mesa. The one-room school, the last one in Orange County, closed in 1961 when the Greenville School District was divided between Costa Mesa and Santa Ana Unified; the building is gone today. The Newport Methodist Episcopal Church, which was built in 1876 and is the oldest Protestant church in Orange County, still remains as a part of the Greenville County Church and the Bean Growers warehouse still stands along the rail line from Santa Ana.

I Visited Greenville
10.7.2018

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