The First of Their Kind: African Americans on Lynchburg City Council

By Paul Fagbemi, Research Intern

Thomas Jefferson Anderson (Jan. 5, 1853 – Feb. 11, 1921)

Thomas Jefferson Anderson. Courtesy of Old City Cemetery/Southern Memorial Association

Thomas Jefferson Anderson was born to slave parents in Amherst County. He moved to Lynchburg and lived on Taylor Street. In 1885, he was elected from the Third Ward to Lynchburg City Council, where he served two terms on the Alms House, Cemetery, and Sanitary Affairs committees. Anderson also worked as a Superintendent of the Old City Cemetery (1887-1889), grocer at Madison and 12th, and railroad worker.

Anderson married three times. In 1873, he married Emeline Roberts; in 1882, he married Fanny Belle Carter; and when Fanny died in 1893, Anderson married Mary Miles in the following year. The weddings took place at the Jackson Street Methodist Church. Mary Miles remained his spouse until he died of Lobar Pneumonia in 1921. He is buried in White Rock Cemetery in Lynchburg.

Anderson’s daughter Louise attended the Boston Conservatory of Music. His son, Thomas Jefferson Anderson, Jr., graduated from the Lynchburg Colored High School in 1905. He was featured in a local news outlet after winning a scholarship from the Phillips Academy, in Exeter, New Hampshire.

Jackson Street Methodist church. courtesy of paul fagbemi

Jackson Street Methodist church. courtesy of paul fagbemi

Lynchburg from White Rock Hill, c. 1880’s. From the Lynchburg Museum System

Lynchburg from White Rock Hill, c. 1880’s. From the Lynchburg Museum System

Henry Edwards (Born c.1850)

Born to slave parents in Charlotte Court House, Henry Edwards came to Lynchburg after the Civil War. He lived on Taylor Street—between 14th and 15th streets. He was elected to council from the Third Ward on the Republican ticket in 1885. He served on the Public Safety and Parks committees from 1885 to 1887.

While in Lynchburg, Edwards also worked as a tobacco factory foreman, floor manager, grocer at 424 12th Street (1885-1886), and saloon owner/barkeeper.

“Old Market Tobacco Scene”, c. 1878. From the Lynchburg Museum System

“Old Market Tobacco Scene”, c. 1878. From the Lynchburg Museum System

Edwards was known to be a good orator who led a private life; he had two sons and a daughter. By 1900, he was living in Washington, D.C., working as a stationary fireman and engineer at Gallaudet University, known then as the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb.  It is currently not known when or where Edwards died.

Commerce Street in Lynchburg, circa 1900. From the Lynchburg Museum System

Commerce Street in Lynchburg, circa 1900. From the Lynchburg Museum System

Do you know what happened to Henry Edwards after 1900?  Are you are a descendant of Anderson or Edwards?  Do you have any photographs of either man or their families?  If so, we want to know!  Please contact the Lynchburg Museum at museum@lynchburgva.gov or (434) 455-6226.