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.