Flying Santa

While digitizing the logs of The Graves Lighthouse in Boston Harbor, I noticed several entries about packages being dropped from an airplane. The keepers at this offshore station considered this a noteworthy event and probably appreciated some Christmas cheer while separated from their families during the holiday. (The Graves was what was called a “stag station” — there was no accommodation for families.) In future years the log identifies the pilot as Capt. Wincapaw, who started the Flying Santa tradition. In the early days of aviation, pilots, like mariners, often used lighthouses to track their location.  Lacking sophisticated navigational equipment, …

Continue Reading

Archivist Mark Mollan — Keeper of Lighthouse Records

Archivist  Mark Mollan assists researchers doing maritime and navy research at the National Archives in downtown Washington, D.C. He’s made working with Record Group 26 a whole lot easier in recent years by creating box lists for some of the more extensive entries. You can access these lists, many in the volumes pictured below, in the finding aids room on the first floor of the National Archives. (The same place you fill out pull slips to retrieve the records.) He or someone else is always on duty to assist you with your search. Mark has kindly shared many of these …

Continue Reading

1881 Instructions to Light Keepers

The 1881 Instructions began, “The Keeper is responsible for the care and management of the light, and for the station in general. He must enforce a careful attention to duty on the part of his assistants; and the assistants are strictly enjoined to render prompt obedience to his lawful orders.” Absences had to be communicated to those left in charge and reported to the inspector. “Light-keepers may leave their stations to attend divine worship on Sundays, to procure needful supplies, and on important public occasions.” “Watches must be kept at all stations where there is an assistant. The keeper on watch must …

Continue Reading

LIGHT LISTS

Light Lists are a useful research tool for tracking lighthouses over time.  Here are a few pages from a very early version entitled, Light-houses, Beacons, and Floating Lights, of the United States, for 1838 prepared by the order of Stephen Pleasonton, Fifth Auditor and Acting Commissioner of the Revenue.  The pages are meant to be side by side.  Note the stray markings on this copy.  They were corrections meant for the next version. For the complete list in PDF format goto my new research page for digitized volumes.

Continue Reading

Celebrating a Book Launch

As a followup to my post “New Book about New Point Comfort Lighthouse,” I wanted to share this photo of the cake served at the book launch. Isn’t a work of art? I hated to cut into it! The cake was based on the cover of the book which you can see in the earlier post.  Mathews County Historical Society hosted a reception to launch the book as well as several book signings at their visitor’s center.  The support from the community was tremendous!  We enjoyed meeting keeper’s descendants, folks involved in preserving the lighthouse, folks who lived near the …

Continue Reading