Introduction to Lynch Clan

My Lynch ancestors from Ireland came to America in 1848. The group included my Grandfather James Lynch and his five siblings, ages 10 to 18, who sailed without their parents to New York City. Soon they were living in a tenement house in Massachusetts working in a textile mill. From there they gradually migrated west. This blog will contain information gathered by my mother, Hazel Lynch Skonberg from her father, giving details of the trip over and life in America. There is also a diary written by his son, Will Lynch, who was with the American Consular Service of the State Department, and was taken hostage on Dec. 8, 1941, by the Japanese Army who had captured Shanghai that day. I hope you enjoy this blog about the James Lynch family in America.
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Friday, September 23, 2011

W.R. Lynch WW II Diary Introduction

Will Lynch was on the Baseball
Team at Emporia State Teacher's
 College in Emporia, Kansas.
Click on photo to enlarge.
 Will Lynch was the second son of Caroline and James Lynch.  He was born in 1885 in Lyon County, Kansas, and grew up on the family farm.  Unlike his brothers, he was not interested in farming and wanted to go to college and see the world, which he did. 
      After graduating from Emporia State Teacher's College in Emporia, Kansas, where he played on the school's baseball team, with a degree in Education, he went to the Philippines to teach in about 1912, then to China and soon was in Shanghai working for the American Consular Service.   Shanghai at that time was unlike the rest of China.  It was very cosmopolitan and European in flavor with quite a modern culture.  He enjoyed the ballet, symphony and other events.  He liked his work there and only came home every three years for a long visit before returning to China.  He came by ship which took three weeks, I think.
     His visits were exciting for us as China seemed (and was) clear around the world.  He would visit his Mother, Caroline Lynch, and other relatives.  He gave talks at schools and other groups.  At home, he always wanted to act like a local when he came home and would embarrass my teenaged years with the way he acted and things he said.  I tried to never let him meet any of my boy friends!
     He wrote home often and his letters were legendary.  He always had a way with words, and was sometimes a little acidic in his views, but it was a treat to receive one of his letters.  I built quite a stamp collection from his letters from China.   
     In those days, communication was slow.  Letters went by boat and took nearly a month to go one way.  There was nothing like email or long distance phone calls.  I am not sure when telegrams came in but they were only used for emergency and government mail.     
     He was never home at Christmas but his presence was always felt.   When we went to Grandma Lynch's house on Christmas Eve, there was always a sack of apples, oranges and nuts for each of us grandkids.  When I was younger, I thought he had sent them clear from China.  Later, I realized he sent money to Grandma who bought all these things for us!  I know he was a little homesick at Christmas, though he enjoyed his work in Shanghai and had many friends among the American community there.
     On December 7, 1941 (Pearl Harbor Day) the Japanese not only bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, but captured Shanghai the same day.  America joined World War II.  When this happens, each government takes the opposing country's diplomat's prisoner.
     The US State Department in Washington DC took the Japanese Diplomatic Corps prisoners and Japan did the same thing, meaning that Will Lynch was arrested by the Japanese Army and taken as a diplomatic prisoner on December 8, 1941.
    He kept a diary on an old fashioned stenographers pad for nearly a year--something that I am sure was against the rules, but he was never one to go by the rules. The diary is in small script on an old fashioned stenographer's tablet.  In 1945, I had just graduated from high school, and typed it out  after World War II ended when he came home.  Some entries are long, some only a few lines.  He wrote nearly every day.
     I will write them as he wrote them but will omit what I cannot read of his writing.


  1. I have never read his diary, so this will be interesting!

  2. It is more of a log, sometimes written in a hurry. Also, he is frank in his opinions, and like a caged animal. Uncle Will was always wanting to be on the go and now he can not be. He was never very patient, and of course, does not know what the outcome will be.