The city's Web site is becoming a repository of Westerville history, thanks to service department administrative assistant Sharon Lytle.

The city's Web site is becoming a repository of Westerville history, thanks to service department administrative assistant Sharon Lytle.

Lytle is compiling a database detailing the lives of city residents who have died for their country.

"It's rather amazing to see that so many were KIA (killed in action)," she said. "There are at least 120 buried in Westerville from the Civil War alone. There are at least 11 in Pioneer Cemetery from the War of 1812, and three more from the Revolutionary War."

Others are interred in the mausoleum at Otterbein Cemetery.

Several of the city's residents earned national recognition: Westerville was home to a cousin and childhood companion of Gen. George Custer; a soldier who survived the Bataan Death March; and "Madam X," who was instrumental to cracking the ciphers used by Japan during two world wars.

Dr. Isaac N. Custer, born Oct. 8, 1832, was a dentist in Westerville, where he lived from 1872 until his death in 1908, according to documents housed in the Westerville Public Library's historical archive. When his mother died when Custer was 3 years old, he was taken in by the mother of his cousin, George Custer.

During the Civil War, Isaac Custer served as first lieutenant in Company I, 157th regiment, O.V.I. He later turned down a staff position with the commander of Fort Delaware before eventually being elected to captain of Company C, 14th regiment, O.N.G, located in Westerville. Custer served in this capacity for seven years and commanded the company during the Cincinnati riot of 1884.

In his eulogy, Dr. T.J. Sanders described Custer as an aesthetic soul: "He loved music, harmony and he wanted it to be of the highest and best," Sanders wrote. "He was modest and unassuming in spirit, wishing to avoid all show or parade, preferring to have only intrinsic worth and nobleness of character."

Born July 7, 1917, John Rowland grew up on the outskirts of Westerville along Cleveland Avenue. After graduating from Westerville High School in 1935, Rowland began studies in pre-veterinary medicine at Ohio State University, but was unable to finish the program when he became Westerville's first Army draftee of World War II.

Rowland was stationed as a member of the 192nd Tank Battalion, at Clark Field in the Philippine Islands. His base was attacked by Japanese forces on the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor, and although Rowland survived the battle, he was captured by the Japanese on April 9, 1942.

Following his capture, Rowland survived the infamous Bataan Death March, a 60-mile march of about 75,000 American and Filipino soldiers from the Bataan peninsula to prison camps; it is estimated that between one of four and two of seven prisoners died during the march under grueling physical conditions and harsh treatment.

After nearly perishing on a Japanese transport ship, Rowland was taken to a prison camp in Hoten, where he remained until his release on Aug. 19, 1945, after three and a half years of captivity.

Agnes Meyer Driscoll, or "Madam X" to her colleagues, was the daughter of Dr. Gustav Frederick Meyer, who once resided on the property that now houses the Westerville Public Library, according to local history coordinator Beth Weinhardt.

Born in 1889, Driscoll's 30-year career in cryptography spanned two world wars, in which she served as a leading cryptanalyst for the U.S. Navy. Although many details of her life remain unknown because of the government's classification of her information-sensitive career, it is known that Meyer helped develop one of the Navy's first cipher machines, the "CM."

According to an entry in the National Security Agency's Hall of Honor, in her career Meyer broke several Japanese Navy manual codes -- the Red Book Code in the 1920s, the Blue Book Code in 1930, and in 1940, she made critical inroads into JN-25, the Japanese fleet's operational code, which the Navy exploited after the attack on Pearl Harbor and for the rest of the war in the Pacific.

During World War II, Meyer was also a part of the Navy's effort against the German navy's Enigma machine. She later was part of the first contingent to join the nation's new cryptologic agencies, the Armed Forces Security Agency in 1949, and then the NSA in 1952.

Meyer was buried in Arlington National Cemetery after she died in 1971.

Information about the lives of Westerville's servicemen and servicewomen has been documented in the Westerville Public Library's historical archive.

The database of those interred within the city can be found on the city's Web site, www.westerville.org, under under Cemetery-Local History in the service department listing.

lrice@thisweeknews.com