Located in the great valley of Tennessee, in the watershed of the Holston and Nolichucky Rivers, Greene County was crossed by routes of settlement from Virginia and North Carolina. Greene County was one of the state’s earliest centers of higher education. The founding educators were Presbyterian ministers schooled in the north who largely adhered to anti-slavery principles. Yet, as in most sections of Tennessee, many residents were slaveholders. Nonetheless, the majority of citizens in upper East Tennessee remained loyal to the United States during the Civil War, which meant a less hostile environment for African American residents who wanted to remain in and around Greene County and build new lives after Emancipation.