With the passage of years comes the dying of history.
Glenda Walters is determined to stop that death, to recapture the history found in old photographs, discarded picture albums, library archives and the spirit of elderly residents.
For months, Walters compiled those historical records to produce Lynn Haven, a new book that chronicles the legacy of the Bay County city carved in the early 1900s as a retirement community for Union soldiers.
Lynn Haven ($19.99) was published on June 22 as part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series. The series chronicles history of communities from Maine to California, small towns such as Portsmouth, N.H., and cities such as Boston and Chicago.
Callaway, Panama City Beach, Parker, Bay County, Jackson County and the Cove community in Panama City were subjects of earlier books. An Images of America book on Millville is in production.
With Lynn Haven, Walters hoped to capture snippets of history through black-andwhite photos and the recollections of the town’s oldest families. Walters moved to Lynn Haven permanently in late 1964 and has worked as an adjunct professor at both Florida State University-Panama City and Gulf Coast Community College.
Her inspiration? To save a forgotten history.
"I guess you might say it was the realization of people I knew who held the key to history," Walters said in a phone conversation Thursday. "These people were passing on, a lot of material was being thrown away, a lot of it was being lost."
What was lost is now found, and compiled, in hundreds of pictures sprinkled throughout Lynn Haven. From the famed Union soldier memorial at the corner of Eighth Street and Georgia Avenue to the gravestone of Cpl. Almon D. Titus, Walters uses pictures to tell the story of a town bolstered by veterans.
Lynn Haven was chartered in 1913, but the migration of Union soldiers likely began much earlier than that, Walters said. The first settlers — including families such as the Robertses and Truesdells — were joined by black pioneers who lived and worked at a turpentine camp near the current 17th Street.
"Back as far as the late 1800s, people were inhabiting the area," Walters said. "There were people at the turpentine camp. There was a settlement at the site of the old country club. The first settlers were here well before (soldiers began their migration)."
It was developer William Lynn’s drive to buy property throughout what was then known as Washington County that led to the idea for an "independent colony," Walters wrote. With newspaper articles filled with new colonies populated by veterans, "Old soldiers sent their money and dreamed of life in the sunshine," according to Lynn Haven.
This migration begot a new town, one that has grown to over 14,000 residents. Despite the population boom and introduction of new industries, Walters feels Lynn Haven has maintained its small-town personality. The author, and resident, hopes it stays that way.
"The growth is so new that the jury is still out," Walters said. "That was sort of an excuse for writing a book like this."