Joseph LYNCH (1846-1875) was married to my 3rd great aunt, Harriet THOMAS LYNCH. Harriet was a daughter of Renatus THOMAS (1799-1874), who was my 3rd great grandfather.
Who was Joseph Lynch?
Family tradition says that Joseph Lynch was a northerner. The story is that he came to the south, perhaps with the war, and stayed when it was over. Other family tradition says he came after the war was over and was a carpetbagger, so he was not well-received.
Either could be the truth. Frankly, there are so many Joseph Lynch’s, that it would take months to do beyond a basic search. I did go beyond a basic search but not far.
I didn’t find a Joseph Lynch in South Carolina in the 1860 or 1870 census. I did find one in the 1850 census, but he was born in 1848. That isn’t but 2 years from the birth year on my Joseph Lynch’s tombstone, and tombstone dates have been wrong before. But not finding a Joseph Lynch in South Carolina in 1860 or 1870 makes him being a northerner more believable.
Why did Harriet marry Joseph?
Perhaps Harriet truly loved Joseph even though he was a Yankee (if he actually was.) Perhaps she felt pressured to marry someone so as not to be a burden on her aging parents. Perhaps she wanted children. Perhaps they had a shotgun wedding. Perhaps a lot of other reasons, too.
What I do know
I don’t know when or why Joseph and Harriet married, but I do know they had a daughter in July 1875 named Mary. I believed they lived in Richland County, South Carolina at that time.
On 11 October 1875, Joseph Lynch was killed by a man named John Lynch. John Lynch used a pistol to kill Joseph. The murder took place at Summit station on the Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta Railroad. This was reported in the Columbia Daily Record newspaper, and there was nothing more about it after that report in the newspaper. I looked on several maps, and I couldn’t find the Summit station location but it was likely in the greater Columbia area.
Two theories based on fact and tradition
The facts are that Joseph was shot by a man named John Lynch. A coincidence that they had the same last name? That seems fishy, doesn’t it. As Gibbs would say on NCIS, There is no such thing as coincidence. There were some John Lynch’s in South Carolina in 1860 and 1870, but none of them had a brother named Joseph.
This piece of basic research brings me to Theory Number One: Joseph’s brother, John, came down from the north looking for Joseph. There was some kind of confrontation that led to the murder.
Family tradition says that Joseph Lynch was murdered by some of Harriet’s brothers. Word is that they didn’t like him because he was a Yankee, and they ‘took care of him.’ How does that fit with the newspaper account?
Theory Number Two: The confrontation at the train station was actually Joseph and his brother, John, up against Harriet’s brothers. Perhaps John had come from the north to help Joseph because Joseph feared for his life. Perhaps John accidentally murdered Joseph while in a scuffle with Harriet’s brothers who were trying to murder Joseph themselves.
If I think on it, I’m sure I’d come up with dozens of theories, but I’ll stop with these two.
The hard truths
No matter what led up to Joseph’s death, when he died he left behind a wife and a 3 month-old daughter. I couldn’t find Harriet in the 1880 or 1900 census, but I found her in the 1904 and 1907 Columbia city directory. In1910, Harriet was living with Mary and Mary’s husband and children in Columbia, South Carolina. Harriet died in 1912. She never remarried.
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