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Historical Collections of Virginia By Henry Howe
Lynch Law - Col. Charles Lynch, a brother of the founder of Lynchburg, was an officer of the American Revolution. His residence was on the Staunton, in the southwest part of Campbell County, now the seat of his grandson, Chas. Henry Lynch, Esq. At that time, this country was very thinly settled, and infested by a lawless band of Tories and desperadoes. The necessity of the case involved desperate measures, and Col. Lynch, then a leading Whig, apprehended and had them punished, without any superfluous legal ceremony. Hence the origin of the term "Lynch law".
I included this excerpt because I am attempting to describe the temperament of the area at the time of Robert Adams. As you remember Charles Lynch is Robert Adams' uncle.
Virginia Magazine of History and Biography Volume 26 page 371
Walter Crockett to William Preston
McGavocks April 7, 1779
We are alarmed with Tories (6) two men on oath have informed that their plan is ripe for Execution they are immediately to proceed in Parties to Disarm the Friends of the Country, some they are to kill and Destroy, and proceed to Destroy the Lead Mines they inform us of the names of near twenty, some of which are to be Commanders in Executing this Diabolical Plot, one on Oath says that a certain Duncan Ogullian said he would scalp Preston and McGavock before he joined the Indians and with them proceed to kill and Destroy all before them, they promised their followers 20s. 6d. Sterling p day and 450 acres of Land clear of Quit Rents for twenty one years. Now Sir, on this alarming news, I have with advice ordered about fifty men to assist the Sheriff in bringing those villians to Justice in hopes it may stop them. I thought it my duty to inform you immediately of this, have therefore sent express in the meantime shall do everything in my power, you will please to give your advice and instructions.
I am Sir, with great respect
Your most Obedient
footnote on page 372
Early in the summer of 1779 the Tories living near the head of the Yadkin River, North Carolina, and on New River and Walkers Creek, Montgomery County, Virginia, began to form into a body with the intention of destroying the lead mines on New River (now in Wythe county), robbing loyal citizens and afterwards joining Cornwallis. Colonel Preston and the other officers of Montgomery made every effort to quiet the disaffected and protect the citizens; but had to call on the authorities of Washington County for aid. Col. William Campbell with 150 mounted militia from that county came to the rescue and dividing into small parties, together with the loyal militia of Montgomery, after several weeks active pursuit dispersed or captured the insurgents. Col. Walter Crockett, Capt. Charles Lynch, Capt Robert Sayers and Capt. Isaac Campbell were equally active and successful. After the suppression of the outbreak in Virginia Isaac Campbell and Sayers assisted with their companies in suppressing a Tory revolt in Surrey and Wilkes counties, N.C. A little valley called Black Lick, in the present Wythe County, was a shelter from which Tories made raids. They were captured by William Campbell's men and a number were hung on two oaks, long afterwards known as the "Tory Trees". The necessary, but rough handling of the Tories compelled the legislature in October, 1779 to pass a law justifying the acts of Campbell, Crockett and others and indemnifying them for any illegal actions.
I found the above Statute at Hemings in Volume X Chapter XXXIV page 195. Now this is not the indemnification of Robert Adams Statutes. His indemnification was in Volume XI. However, it is my belief that he was probably involved.
I also found Southern campaign American Revolution pension Statement for John Pribble:S5951
John Pribble filed for pension on August 14, 1832
He cannot recollect the year that he was detailed by Waggon master James Talbot from Capt Robert Adams company as waggoner to the Long Island on Holstein River (Holsten River at present Kingsport Tn) and that he brought a load of lead from the Lead mines (near Fort Chiswell in Wythe County) back to (illegible word) near the Blue Ridge.
In September of 1779 I was drafted and marched to the Lead mines under the command of Robert Adams, Lieutenant Thomas McReynolds and I believe James McReynolds Ensign at which place I served three months, Colonel Charles Lynch commanded the greater part of the time while I was there.
Mr. John Pribble was living at the Peaks of Otter during the time of the Revolution.
The lead mines at Fort Chiswell.
After the death Chiswell, the mines were operated for the benefit of his heirs, but at the beginning of the Revolution, the colony of Virginia took over the operation and one of the major managers of the mines was Charles Lynch. It would be natural for Charles Lynch to convey some of that responsible to his nephew Robert Adams.
These Tories were offering loyal citizens of the king 450 acres of land with no land tax (quit rents) for 21 years. Now I don't know whose land that they were offering to give away, but I am assuming that all the Patriots would be loosing their land and maybe their life. Not only that but they were telling Loyalist that the patriots were giving land to the French for their assistance. It was definitely a rough and tumble time. With one third of the country apathetic, one third Tories or Loyalist to the King and the other half rebels, patriots, lovers of freedom challenged everyday with the protection of Virginia and the cause of freedom.
It 's not hard to understand the importance of the Fort Chiswell Mines. Take a look at the Wythe County Seal above and you will see the Shot Tower for the Lead Mines which still stands today.
Wythe County Virginia USGS Topographic Maps on CD
A Short Historical and Physical Description of Wythe County, Virginia
Wythe County Virginia: Bicentennial History