Kate Walker, who would become one of the most famous lighthouse keepers in the world, was born Katherine Gortler in Germany in 1846. She was appointed keeper at Robbins Reef Lighthouse off the northern tip of Staten Island in New York Harbor after her husband died in 1886. By her own account, Kate saved fifty people from drowning during her years at the lighthouse, but estimates by others range as high as seventy-five. Kate remained keeper until 1919. She died in 1931, at the age of eighty-four, after a long illness. She will never be forgotten for the long years she served the mariners of New York Harbor, honoring her husband’s last request — “Mind the light, Kate.”
Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org
4 thoughts on “USLHS Historian Video #3 – Kate Walker at Robbins Reef”
I think Kate’s story is amazing and wonder if it will ever become a movie. I think there is enough in this true story to captivate audiences of all ages.
Thank you for the wonderful video. Kate was a strong woman. I grew up hearing stories of her and her life on Robbins reef. She was my great great aunt. When I was a teenager, two of my cousins and myself got permission from the coast guard to visit the lighthouse. Our visit was reported in the Staten Island Advance.
Wow, what a great family legacy, Kim. That visit must have been really exciting. Yes, I think she was an incredibly strong woman in many ways.