Monday, January 25, 2010

Revolutionary War Fire Lit in Franklin County

The Origin of "Lynching"

Most fires start from small sparks. The Chicago fire, for instance, probably started with Mrs. Leary's cow kicked over a lantern. And so it is with other great disasters. The people of Franklin County, North Carolina will tell you that the first spark of the Revolutionary War was ignited in their county.

This is the story told by Bill Sharpe in A New Geography of North Carolina, Vol. 4, page 1857, published in 1965:

"Franklin [County's] colonial history is closely linked with that of Warren [County], as both of them were then united under the name of Bute [County]. Their attitude towards the British government was particularly hostile. The first man to write in opposition to English tax measures was George Simms, who tended the ferry at Louisburg [Franklin Co.]. When Governor Tryon drew up plans for his elaborate palace at Newbern, he levied a tax to pay for it. The farmers way off in Bute weren't interested in building Tryon's mansion, and refused to pay up. Whereupon the equally determined governor sent a British officer, Major Lynch, to collect the tax personally. The unfortunate go-between was met three miles west of Louisburg by a citizens' committee, declared an 'enemy of the county,' and strung up on the spot."

According to Sharpe, the War of the Regulators was a result of this incident. Locals also claimed that the term "lynching" for "impromptu necktie parties" came from the hanging of Major Lynch. [Others attribute the term "lynching" to Capt. William Lynch of VA, author of he Lynch Law.]

In addition a nearby creek was named Lynch Creek.

This story was published in The Connector, newsletter of the Tar River Connections Genealogical Society in the Winter 1999 issue.

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