Lynchburg was named for its founder, John Lynch, who at the age of 17 started a ferry service across the James River in 1757. He was also responsible for Lynchburg’s first bridge across the river, which replaced the ferry in 1812.
In October 1786, the Virginia General Assembly granted John Lynch a charter for a town. The 45 acres granted for the town were his own land. Lynchburg was incorporated as a town in 1805 and as a city in 1852.
The Monacan Indian tribe lived in the Lynchburg area until well into the 17th century. Their chief village, Rassawek, stood near where the James and Rivanna Rivers meet in Fluvanna County. They were driven westward or killed by the Powhatans and Iroquois. Descendants of the Monacan now live in the Bear Mountain area of Amherst County.
The Society of Friends, or Quakers, was the first religious group to settle in Lynchburg. Although Charles Lynch, Sr. was a Roman Catholic, his wife, Sarah and daughter were instrumental in founding the South River Meeting House of the Society of Friends, the city’s first house of worship. The Meeting House, located on Fort Avenue, was restored and is now part of Quaker Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Built in 1791 by John Miller, a tavern owner and later owned by Samuel Claytor, the Miller-Claytor House was the fourth house to be constructed in Lynchburg. It was moved from the corner of 8th Street and Church Street to Riverside Park and restored in 1936 as a Sesquicentennial project of the Lynchburg Historical Society.
College Hill, Garland Hill, Daniel’s Hill, Federal Hill, Diamond Hill, White Rock Hill, and Franklin Hill were the original “Seven Hills” of the City of Lynchburg.
Samuel Miller, born on June 30, 1792 in Albemarle County, made a fortune buying and selling stocks and bonds. Upon his death, he left money to establish the Miller Home for Girls in Lynchburg and the Miller Home for Boys in Albemarle County. He also left Miller Park to the City of Lynchburg for the benefit of all citizens.
Built around 1815 by Dr. George Cabell, Sr., an eminent physician whose most famous patient was Patrick Henry. Point of Honor was the home of important Lynchburg area families, including the Daniels, Paynes, and Owens.
As early as 1815, the Federal style structure known today as the Joseph Nichols Tavern was a thriving “ordinary” or inn, near an extension of the Old Ferry Road, now the corner of Fifth and Madison Streets. It is probable that Thomas Jefferson lodged at the Tavern on his way from Monticello to Poplar Forest. In the 1840s the site became known as the Western Hotel and has since served as a hotel, a brothel and a rooming house. It was restored in 1975.
According to local legend, Thomas Jefferson, who was visiting the owners of the Miller-Claytor House on his way to his Poplar Forest home, took a bite of the “poisonous love apple.” Supposedly, this was the first time anyone had eaten this fruit, which we now call the tomato, in Virginia.
Visit the Lynchburg Museum System and explore the history of Lynchburg and the Virginia Piedmont. The Lynchburg Museum, housed in the restored 1855 Old Court House, shares stories about the people and fascinating events that have shaped Central Virginia and exhibits treasures of all kinds --- silver and furniture made in Lynchburg, fine art, antique toys, Civil War memorabilia, sports, artifacts from the civil rights era, aviation, music, and much more!
Article courtesy of City of Lynchburg.
For more information, please visit www.visitlynchburg.org