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Petitions debate Lynchburg name

 A sign outside city hall gives a description on Lynchburg's origins. WDBJ7 photo.
A sign outside city hall gives a description on Lynchburg's origins. WDBJ7 photo. (WDBJ)
Published: Jun. 15, 2020 at 6:09 PM EDT
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Lynchburg, also known as the hill city, was established in 1805 as a town before becoming a city in 1852.

However, the "lynch" in Lynchburg has now drawn recent controversy.

"But that really does not have anything to do with the man that founded our city," said Ted Delaney, Lynchburg Museum System director.

The city itself is named after John Lynch, a Quaker and abolitionist who freed slaves.

He started a ferry service at the James River before having the place chartered in his name.

But a new petition calling for a Lynchburg name change says it's not about John Lynch, and that it should be removed because of its word association.

However, another petition is now firing back, saying the name should not be changed.

City council member Jeff Helgeson says if it came before council, he would vote against any name change.

"I would absolutely vote against it without even thinking twice about it, regardless of how many people signed a petition to change it cause it doesn't have a very good foundation," said Helgeson.

Some discussion has circulated over John's brother.

Delaney says that Lynch had a brother named Charles who fought for the colonists in the Revolutionary War.

He whipped British sympathizers on their backs, but Delaney says most documented cases were against white people.

"All the documented, known cases that I've seen are all white individuals. So really, for Colonel Lynch, it really didn't have anything to do with race. It was more about 'who's side of the war are you on?'" said Delaney.

A name change could be added as a referendum in the next election.

to view the petition calling for the city to change its name.

to view the petition against the petition to change the city's name.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ7. All rights reserved.

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