Kate Walker here, keeping the light on Robbins Reef. Some light keepers were simply not suited to the 24/7/365 schedule and the work involved.
Letter from S. C. Rowan, 4th District Inspector, to Chairman, Light-House Board, Aug 15, 1884:
Herewith I enclose a report from Mr. A. G. Wolf, Keeper of Absecon Light House, in relation to the condition of that night on the night of Aug. 9th 1884, when Mr. L. Albertson, 1st Assistant Keeper, was on watch, with a letter of explanation from Mr. Albertson and letters from Mr. Halliwell and Mr. Garton.
I have made a careful investigation and it seems very clear that for at least a half an hour, at the time specified in the report, the light was in such a condition as to be entirely useless and that this was due to the neglect of Mr. Albertson. He did not pump up the oil or to see that this was necessary during his entire watch. Mr. Albertson’s excuse is that he was reading and did not think it necessary. In my opinion for such neglect of duty he should be dismissed from the service.
On October 5, 1887, the Inspector of the 2nd Light-house District reported to the Board: Mr. John Farrelly Assistant Keeper of Hens and Chickens Light-ship, cannot be found at New Bedford and is not on board ship. The rumor is, the Inspector states, that Mr. Farrelly has left the city with the wife of another man. He came on shore at the end of the quarter to get his pay, and a Mr. Doane of New Bedford writes that he heard him say that he would not return to the vessel.
As this Assistant did not return to his duty at the proper time, and as there seems but little doubt that he has left New Bedford, the Board has the honor to ask his dismissal from its service.
Keeper Orrin Warner, Jr. wrote to Inspector C.E. Clark, on October 9, 1888: “I am very anxious to see Mr. Moor come as I am here alone. Mr. Leck has resigned; he got a job in the city. The men around here won’t work on Sunday. But I will try and line one [up] today if possible. My wife has been standing the watch with me.”
Information is from National Archives Record Group 26 Entry 24, Letterbook 520; Entry 31; and Entry 6.