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Coleman, William Tell (29 February 1824–22 November 1893), merchant and vigilante, was born near Cynthiana, Kentucky, the son of Napoleon Bonaparte Coleman, a civil engineer and lawyer (mother’s name unknown). Both his parents had died by the time the boy was nine, and an aunt mothered him and his three siblings on their maternal grandfather John Chinn’s plantation in Kentucky. At fifteen Coleman was given a job on a railroad survey in Illinois by his uncle Marcus Chinn, but when the state’s program for railroads collapsed the next year, he went to St. Louis where he worked in an insurance and later a lumber company. At the age of eighteen, he entered St. Louis University and completed the four-year legal course in two, but overstudy had brought on the symptoms of tuberculosis. After regaining his health in Florida, he became the overseer of a plantation at West Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for his uncle, Whig ex-congressman Thomas W. Chinn. He soon left Louisiana, however, for St. Louis, and his former employers in the lumber company sent him to Wisconsin to look after their timber tracts and sawmills....

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Langford, Nathaniel Pitt (09 August 1832–18 October 1911), diarist, vigilante, and park superintendent, was born in Westmoreland, Oneida County, New York, the son of George Langford II, a bank cashier, and Chloe Sweeting. After an education in a rural school, young Langford migrated with four of his siblings to St. Paul, Minnesota, in either 1853 or 1854, and followed his father’s career, clerking in several banks....

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Lynch, Charles (1736–29 October 1796), planter, and the man whose name probably gave rise to the phrase “lynch law,” was born in Virginia (town unknown), the son of Charles Lynch and Sarah Clark, Quakers who had immigrated to Virginia from Ireland. The city of Lynchburg, Virginia, which is located at the site of Lynch’s ferry over the James River, was named for a member of the family, probably his brother John Lynch. As a young man, Charles Lynch served as clerk of the Friends’ South River monthly meeting, but he probably did not share the antipathy to slavery that Quakers increasingly manifested during the latter portion of the eighteenth century, and he did not scruple in April 1767 to take the oaths to qualify as a justice of the peace of Bedford County, Virginia. For taking the oaths and attempting to justify his conduct, the South River monthly meeting disowned him on 20 December 1767. Lynch lived in the portion of Bedford County that became Campbell County in 1781, and he served as a justice of the peace in the new county too. In 1755 he married Anne (or Anna) Terrell, who was also a Quaker and according to her gravestone remained a member of the Society of Friends until her death. The couple had five children....