David Thomas Lynn (1888-1944)

David Thomas Lynn
David Thomas Lynn, c. 1917. Image courtesy of Sargent Memorial Collection, Slover Library, Norfolk, VA. SMC-MSS-000-182-ind-c-010.

David Thomas Lynn was born on January 6th 1888, in Morrisville Wake, North Carolina to Geneve Lynn. His mother died when he was two. Because Lynn never met his father, he went into the care of his grandmother, Hester Lynn and his grandfather, Samuel Lynn. He completed his formal college training at Franklin Christian College, in Franklin, N.C. Before entering the service, Lynn worked for Lamenberg Goodman Corp and resided at 746 Freemont Norfolk county, VA, in the Olde Huntersville district of Norfolk Va. It was in 1910 that he married his wife Pocahontus Smith born in 1892 and had two children, Hihawatha and Kharis. He was a particularly well-known and successful electrician and engineer.

His military service was extensive and began on July 1918 in the United States Army, enlisting under Major Black, Chief of Engineers, to the 48th Engineers Co. B. He enlisted as the only colored man in his unit, eventually making the rank Sargent. He was first stationed in Columbus Ohio before moving to Ft. Benjy, Ft. Harrison and then to Camp Merritt N.J. Aboard the USA Mami, he left Camp Merritt N.J on July 31, and arrived in Breast France on Aug 12. His training was also done in Belgium and Germany. He was discharged from the service on June 18, 1919 at Camp Lee, Va., with the rank of Sargent.

After the war, Lynn continued his work as an electrician and engineer. He was a devout Christian and became active in his community church, A.M.E. Zion. He was on the board of directors for his church as well as trustee work with the colored hospital in Norfolk. His reasons for leaving the military were due to his family and he believed his work in the military helped him to become a better man.

The Lynns lived in Norfolk through 1920, but by 1930, he and his family moved to New York City where they lived in Manhattan and moved to the Bronx after 1940. His son, David T. Lynn, Jr., served in World War II. David Thomas Lynn, Senior died in New York City on January 23, 1944. He is buried in National Cemetery in New York.

David Thomas Lynn
David Thomas Lynn, c. 1917. Image courtesy of Sargent Memorial Collection, Slover Library, Norfolk, VA. SMC-MSS-000-182-ind-c-011.


Caldwell, A. B., The History of the American Negro. Vol. 5: Virginia. Atlanta: A.B. Caldwell Publishing Company, 1921.

“David Thomas Lynn,” World War I History Commission Questionnaires, Library of Virginia.

“David Thomas Lynn.” New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949.

“To Live in New York” The New Journal and Guide. December 29, 1945.

United States Census, 1900-1940.

Kristy Holloway is a history major at Norfolk State University.