Reporter: Len Stevens | Videographer: Ira Quillen
Lynchburg, VA - From the Revolutionary War to present day, many of the events that shaped our country happened in Central Virginia.
So many stories about our rich past are told to this day, but are those stories true? In part 1 of our series "Virginia is for Legends," we explore some of our history's myths.
The man seen on signs and around town has long been associated with the City of Lynchburg. Maybe you've seen him welcoming guests to the city's Visitors Center. Most people in town thought it was John Lynch.
"My guess? John Lynch," said a resident.
"Isn't it supposed to be John Lynch? I believe it's supposed to be John Lynch," said another resident.
But Lynchburg Museum Director Doug Harvey says they're wrong.
"This is Molly Peckerwood, drinking problem Quaker of early Lynchburg's history," said Harvey.
"Oh my! I don't see how, I've never heard of this. I did not know the story," said a Lynchburg resident when she was told who the man on the signs is.
How'd it happen? According to Harvey, Molly Peckerwood's real name was James Mosley, a Quaker who lived and drank in Lynchburg. He got the nickname from a teacher who didn't like his incessant pencil tapping in class. One day, someone made a nice silhouette of him.
"There are no known images of John Lynch, silhouette or otherwise," said Harvey.
So over the years, the image of Mosley became known as that of Lynchburg's founding father.
Another John Lynch myth? Harvey says there's proof he did not create the James River ferry service.
"You'll notice it's chartered to Edward Lynch, not John. Edward was his brother. The only thing that we can figure is that John took the ferry over in later years and became associated with it," said Harvey.
You may have heard Lynchburg's beautiful Point of Honor got its name for a duel or two that were fought there. Or maybe not. Those duels are said to have happened in the 1830's or 1850's.
"But when you research it and start comparing the documents, some of the people involved appear to be in reality about three years old, so that doesn't make sense," said Harvey.
And there's a letter written in 1818, long before those supposed duels mentioning Point of Honor by name. It's still possible a duel or two were fought on these grounds. But there's no proof. It may have gotten its name for a much simpler reason: its amazing view of a young and growing Lynchburg.
Finally, we take a quick jog across the James for another maybe myth associated with the cliff along River Road in Amherst County once known by some as Lovers Leap, a rock with a sad history.
"A young couple, whose parents did not want them to marry, out of desperation, that they went up on Lovers Leap and jumped. That's a very common folk tale," said Harvey.
There's no official record of it and no names for the star-crossed lovers. But the name stuck - even appearing in early postcards.
"Postcards were invented about 1905, and this was one of the early ones. So this tells you the name was in use at least, early 20th century," said Harvey.
John Lynch did do an awful lot for the city he founded including donating land. The biggest myth about him is the act attributed to his name. Harvey points out he did not have anyone hanged. We'll have more on that in a coming episode of "Virginia is for Legends." The term "lynching" is said to actually go back to 1400s Ireland and a hanging there by a man named Lynch. But there are a few articles disputing that account as well.