In the mid-1750's, the colonial village of New London in central Virginia was an important trading center, however, it was difficult to reach from northern towns (such as Charlottesville) due to the necessity of fording the Fluvanna (now James) River, which passed twelve miles north of the village. John Lynch, son of land-owner Charles Lynch and Quaker Sarah Clark Lynch, decided to remedy this problem, and in 1757, established a ferry service on the James a few hundred yards upstream from the ford, on property owned by his father. The ferry service remained profitable for many years, and by the end of the American Revolution, the village at Lynch's Ferry had itself become an important center of trade. Lynch saw the possibilities of establishing a town on the hill overlooking the ferry site, and in late 1784 petitioned the General Assembly of Virginia for a town charter. In October, 1786, the charter was granted, founding the town of Lynchburg. The year in which Lynch began operation of his ferry (1757) also saw the beginning of regular meetings of the South River Society of Friends (Quakers) in which John's mother Sarah played a key role. The third and last South River meeting house was built in 1798, and served the Quakers until 1839 when it was abandoned (most Quakers had left the area in the 1820's due to their opposition to slavery). The building soon fell into ruins (pictured to the right), but was restored in the early 1900's after the land was purchased by area Presbyterians (across from the intersection of Fort Avenue and Sandusky Drive). The town of Lynchburg grew slowly between 1786 and the turn of the century, with the addition of a tobacco warehouse, a few stores, homes, taverns, a Masonic Lodge and one small church. 1798 saw the creation of the town's first newspaper, and the following year saw initial efforts to supply the town with water from springs and wells.
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