Boon Island is a desolate pile of granite several miles off the southern Maine towns of Kittery and York. The present lighthouse, the third built on the island, went into service on New Year’s Day in 1855. It’s the tallest lighthouse in New England at 133 feet tall. Captain William Converse Williams, a native of Kittery, went to Boon Island as second assistant keeper in 1885. He advanced to first assistant in late 1886, and then became principal keeper in 1888. He went on to serve 23 years in the position. He was described as “a refined gentleman of the old school.” Years after his retirement, Williams said that being able to walk about his front yard without fear of being washed into the sea brought him great contentment.
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