Kate's Corner

Kate’s Corner #48

Old postcard of Point Lookout Light Station, Maryland
From the U.S. Lighthouse Society archives

Kate Walker here, keeping the light on Robbins Reef. Family members often succeeded keepers who died, as my son succeeded me.

Three women kept the Point Lookout Light Station in Maryland: Ann Donahoo 1830-1847, Martha A. Edwards 1852-1855, and Martha’s daughter Pamelia Edwards 1855-1869.

Concord Point Lighthouse, Maryland. USLHS photo by Bethany Baker, 2016.

In 1863 Esther O’Neill replaced her deceased husband John as keeper at Havre De Grace (Concord Point) Light Station at the entrance to the Susquehanna River in Maryland, remaining there until 1881. Esther was the eighth keeper in a single family that tended Concord Point Light Station for several decades. At the beginning of the Civil War, when John was still alive, “Union troops sent from Pennsylvania to defend Washington were attacked by Marylanders loyal to the southern cause. Unable to continue troop movements by railroad, the Union set up ferries from Havre de Grace, adjacent to the lighthouse. Two [of Esther’s] sons served for the Union: one killed in battle in 1864, the other wounded, captured, imprisoned at Belle Isle and . . . Richmond, released after three months . . . ”

Esther’s son Henry became the ninth O’Neill keeper, followed by his son Henry, who kept the light until it was automated in 1920.

Turkey Point Light Station, Maryland, in a postcard postmarked 1939.
From the USLHS archives.

In 1872 the United States Light-House Board required keepers to maintain daily logs recording the weather and shipping; these logs are the source of some of the information about three of the four women who kept Turkey Point Light Station. Some of their letters also appear in National Archives Records of the Fifth Lighthouse District (Baltimore) 1851-1912.

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Information is from Sandra Clunies, geneologist; a brochure published by the Friends of the Concord Point Lighthouse; article in a Baltimore newspaper by Henry O’Neill’s niece, Catherine O’Neill Gunther states, however, that Esther O’Neill was the second of John O’Neill’s daughters rather than his daughter-in-law; NA RG 26 E 80 (NC-31) Lighthouse Station Logs, 1872-1947; Clifford Maine Lighthouses, p. 80.

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