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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Thursday, April 5, 2012

WR Lynch and American Consulate in Shanghai, China

     The American Consulate General in Shanghai, China, is among the oldest American diplomatic and consular posts in the Far East, and the second oldest in China, dating to the mid-nineteenth century, following the conclusion of a treaty of "peace, amity and commerce" between the United States and the Qing Dynasty in 1844.  American businessman Henry Wolcott--local agent for a Boston trading company--raised the Stars and Stripes above his company office near the Bund and became the first Acting U.S. Consul in Shanghai.
     In 1854, the United States Government appointed Robert Murphy the first professional American Consul in Shanghai.  His offices were located at 36 Huangpu Road, in the area that would soon become the center of Shanghai's American Settlement.    
     By the early twentieth century, more than 1,500 Americans called Shanghai home.  The American Community contributed to the economy and life of the city, founding businesses, hospitals, schools, and educational exchanges.  In 1916, the Consulate General moved to new buildings at 13-14 Huangpu Road.  These buildings--at a cost of $355,000, were the most expensive U.S. Embassy or consulate in the world at that time.  By the 1930's The Consulate General hosted a staff of ten State Department officials, (Will Lynch was there beginning in 1921) a trade commissioner from the Department of Commerce, and an agent from the Department of Agriculture, as well as the U.S. Court for China, a jail, wharf, post office, and a parade ground for visiting Navy and Marine detachments.
     In the years prior to World War II, Shanghai was the seventh largest city in the world, and had become the financial and commercial center of Asia.  Years of trade and interaction with the West were thrown into disarray, however, beginning with the 1932 Japanese attack on Shanghai's Zhabel District.  In 1933, events pushed the U.S. Consulate General south of Suzhou Creek, leaving the old American Settlement for the first time in nearly 80 years.  By December 1941, however, Japanese advances into Shanghai forced the closure of the Consulate for the duration of the war. 
(Taken from "The Consulate General of the United States Shanghai, China")

           As you have read in the diary, Will Lynch was taken prisoner in 1941 and repatriated in 1942 off the coast of Portuguese East Africa.
 During the rest of World War II, from 1942 to 1945, Will Lynch served in posts in the American Consulates in Cairo, Egypt and Istanbul, Turkey.  As the War was ending, he returned home, married and expected to be sent to Belgrade Yugoslavia.   Instead when the war ended in late summer of 1945, Will and his wife, Christie, moved back to Shanghai, where he was instructed to reopen the Consulate there.   
    They found Post-war Shanghai a different city; the foreign settlements had been abolished and civil war soon engulfed the country.  No letters from Will Lynch to the family remain, but I can remember reading letters from his wife Christie saying that she feared for his life.  Inflation was so bad that employees were paid daily, with large trucks filled with bags of worthless cash for their pay.  The Communists were becoming a strong force in the city, and Will Lynch became very frustrated with having to deal with them.     
     On May 1949, the People's Liberation Army entered Shanghai.  The new Communist government did not recognize the diplomatic status of the Consulate staff, and on April 26, 1950, Consul General Walter McConaughy lowered the American flag and closed the Consulate.  
     In 1950, Will Lynch retired from his nearly 30 year career in the American State Department Consular Service, and he and Christie lived in Long Beach, California the rest of their lives.
     The Consulate was not reopened until April 28, 1980, almost exactly 30 years after it closed. 



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