Monday, October 20, 2014

James Lynch
Mississippi's Secretary of State
During Reconstruction

Lynch, Jas (1870 U.S. Census) Mississippi, Hinds County, Jackson

I came across James Lynch, an interesting figure during Reconstruction in Mississippi while researching the surname Lynch in my family.

James Lynch was born in Baltimore in 1838. He was the son of a slave woman, and his father was a white merchant and minister. James became a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Illinois and Indiana. He married in 1860, and moved to Philadelphia, where he edited a Methodist newspaper. During the War he followed Sherman through Georgia as a missionary to freedmen. In 1867, he came to Mississippi to preach and teach. He also entered politics soon after his arrival, working fervently toward black voter registration.

Lynch was elected Secretary of State. By all accounts, he was an effective political speaker and administrator. He also served on a three man board of education, administering sixteenth section lands, which had been poorly managed. He developed Rust College in Holly Springs, which was run by the Northern Methodist Church.

He failed to gain the nomination for Congress in 1872, losing to John Roy Lynch, not related. Apparently stories of alcoholism began to surface, and blacks lost faith in him.

He died December 18, 1872, at the age of 34 of Bright's Disease. He was buried at the all white cemetery in Jackson, Greenwood Cemetery.

Source: Subject File for James D Lynch - File found at Mississippi Department of Archives and History


  1. This is an interesting story.I wonder if he would be surprised to see all that Rust College went on to accomplish.

    1. I don't think he would be surprised but he would be pleased.

  2. One of my cousins attended Rust College long ago. I posted some photos of my grandmother as a young person visiting with some of her friends.