William Haisley Lynch of Gainesville was killed in combat Oct. 17, 1918, in France during one of the last battles of World War I. He was the only soldier from Alachua County killed during the war.
Bessie Gayle of Jacksonville was a nurse with the American Red Cross when she also died, also in France during the war.
Lynch and Gayle are among at least 1,602 Floridians who died during the Great War. Their names — neatly written in India ink on paper scrolls brittle with age and stained with St. Johns River floodwater from Hurricane Irma — have been inside a copper box that was inside a lead box with a steel plate in it, sealed inside the right-hand cornerstone of Memorial Park's iconic bronze statue, Life.
Sunday is Veterans Day. On Saturday, the Memorial Park Association began its Veterans Day weekend commemoration of the 100th anniversary since the end of World War I with an unveiling of the preserved scrolls and launching of the "Florida Fallen" database.
It's unknown who created the scrolls, but those named on their pages will be remembered and honored, said Percy Rosenbloom III, park association president,
In September, the association unearthed the boxes to recover the scrolls because of concern about water damage from the hurricane. A team at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and its Maritime Museum led by Ann Seibert, recently retired after 30 years form the Library of Congress and National Archives, painstakingly cleaned, pieced together and preserved the tattered scrolls.
Well-known researcher R.B. Rosenburg, associate dean and history professor at Clayton State University in Morrow, Ga., teamed up with the park association for the scroll and the ongoing database project.
"It's for these men and women that we honor, that we remember their sacrifices they made for our country," said Rosenburg, who discussed his work with about 100 people who attending the unveiling of the scrolls.
Some in the audience were descendants of those on the scrolls.
Rebecca Rogers of Jacksonville brought photographs Saturday of Lynch, who was her mother's cousin. A private first class in the Army, Lynch served with a machine gun company in the 2nd Battalion, 124h Infantry Regiment, she said.
Rogers said when Lynch was killed, his fellow soldiers buried him in a shell hole. Five days after he was killed, his father, Louis Lynch, who had joined the service with his son, found his body and brought it home to Gainesville for burial, she said.
"He was a fine young man, very highly thought of, " Rogers said.
That his name is on the scroll, she said "is something that my family is sort of used to. Unfortunately, my brother was killed in World War II," she said.
Lynch is buried in Gainesville’s Evergreen Cemetery. The Haisley Lynch Park in that city's downtown also is named in in his honor.
Monday, the association will post the names of those on the scrolls on its website www.MemParkJax.org. People will be able to look over the list and easily find their ancestors by Florida county, name, age, last known duty station and other data points.
The association is asking family members to contact it and consider sharing photos and stories of their loved one who served during the Great War.
Rosenburg discussed his research and development of the Florida Fallen database in a program, "Florida WW I Memorial Database: Uncovering Military-Related Deaths during the Great War."
He detailed the stories of many of those listed on the scrolls as he explained how he researched the names and developed the Florida Fallen database. Each person named is identified by the Florida county where they had resided when they entered military service or were with the American Red Cross, as well as about 20 other data points, including name, age and rank.
About 40,000 Floridians served in World War I. Duval County had more serve than any other county in the state and also had more die in the war as well. Not all were in the military. Some were civilians like Gale, Rosenburg said.
He noted Gale was the only woman listed in the scrolls. She had lived in the city's Springfield neighborhood and was a music teacher, as well as a secretary at the YMCA before becoming a nurse. She later was buried in Jacksonville National Cemetery, he said.
The Memorial Park Association found her 1910 passport photo. It is among the collection of photos and copies of documents that help tell the stories of those named on the scrolls
To bring Gale's story to life Sunday, Caitlyn Fear, an honor roll student at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, will portray Gale and recite “In Flanders Field” before the "Sound of Victory Concert" and fireworks display. The Bessie Gale Project is in collaboration between the association and American Red Cross.
Memorial Park's Veterans Day commemoration continues Sunday with a full day of free activities — all at Memorial Park.
The events are listed at the association's website. Multiple festivities including the Veterans Day "Sound of Victory Concert" featuring the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra followed by fireworks will be from 5-7 p.m.
Teresa Stepzinski: (904) 359-4075