Okay, that was a bit of a stretch to catch your attention. But it is really not that far from the truth.

I found a truly amazing article about our neighborhood written by Lauri Caldwell and printed in the Spring/Summer 1989 issue of Lynch’s Ferry.

Here’s how the story goes:

The original petition granted by the Virginia General Assembly to John Lynch, founding the town of Lynchburg, defined a tiny part of our current city. This little town, nestled around his ferry on the James River, composed a part of our modern downtown. Diamond Hill, Garland Hill, Federal Hill, Rivermont, and Daniel’s Hill (note that the first four are current historical districts and the last will, hopefully, become one) were all suburbs that only later became annexed to the city.

Before that, Daniel’s Hill and Rivermont petitioned the General Assembly to incorporate and organize the town of Daniel (also called Danielsville). The Assembly granted the request in 1879 for a town centered approximately at the intersection of current Cabell Street and Rivermont Avenue, where Miles Food Market and gas station is located.

The concept of the town of Daniel traces back to Dr. George Cabell. In 1805, Dr. Cabell bought 737 acres, which included what we know as Point of Honor. In 1806, he asked the General Assembly for permission to establish a town and ferry on his holdings. In the Lynch’s Ferry article, Lauri Caldwell speculates that Dr. Cabell may have intended to compete with John Lynch’s town and ferry on the other side of Blackwater Creek. According to Lauri, what happened to Dr. Cabell’s request is not clear. There is no record of the town and ferry petition being acted upon. Lauri suggests that Dr. Cabell did not pursue the request because he was involved in the building of Point of Honor in 1815.

Fast forward to 1826. Dr. Cabell’s son William Lewis Cabell and his wife Eliza Daniel Cabell inherited the 737-acre property. Upon their deaths, the property passed to Eliza’s father, Judge William Daniel. While in the hands of the Daniel family, the area became known as Daniel’s Hill. Judge Daniel’s son, also named William Daniel, inherited next and built a home further up the hill between Cabell, F, Norwood, and G Streets. This home, called Rivermont, is where our avenue and neighborhood gets its name. By the way, William Daniel Jr.’s wife was Elizabeth Cabell Daniel—talk about two close-knit families!

Fast forward, again, to the late 19th century. Rivermont and the remaining property of George Cabell pass into the hands of Major Edward S. Hutter. Hutter, a civil engineer, took a different approach to development than the other “Hill” suburbs. Instead of luxury homes, Hutter constructed modest homes for factory workers. It was during this period of development that Hutter and the Daniel’s Hill residents successfully petitioned the General Assembly for the establishment of Daniel.

The January 14, 1879 Acts of Assembly record the incorporation of the town of Daniel, adjacent to the City of Lynchburg. The boundaries for this proposed town encompassed a large area. The proposed town was approximately bordered by current landmarks of the C&O Railroad tracks, H Street on Daniel’s Hill, Blackwater Creek and Hollins Mill Road, and Riverside Park.

Lauri’s Lynch’s Ferry article has the official boundaries as listed in the Acts. To locate a copy of this or any other issue of Lynch’s Ferry, the best source is Nancy Marion at the Design Group on Rivermont Avenue.

The tax structure of Daniel was unique. The town of Daniel did not collect school or road taxes, but required some residents to work on road projects. The road commissioner could call up all eligible males for work. Failure to report would result in an 80-cent fine. In those days, that could hurt your wallet.

My favorite clause from the Acts is the one stating that neither the mayor nor councilman would receive a salary!

So, what happened to the town of Daniel?

Well, according to Lauri Caldwell’s article, it started off successfully. After 1879, the population grew to 600 inhabitants living in 130 homes. But after a short five years, the town ceased to exist. For no apparent reason, the Virginia General Assembly repealed the town charter in 1884.

In the 1890s, the former town continued to be developed, but now under the auspices of the newly formed Rivermont Company. The former town of Daniel centered on the 1200 block “business district” under the development plan for the new community of “Rivermont.” Could those powerful Lynchburg entrepreneurs that formed the Rivermont Company have bent the ear of the General Assembly?

See more about Rivermont Company and early Rivermont under Our History on this website.

By Roger G. Garfield

Document date: 7 August 2014