Constance Scovill Small was born into a Maine family that included sea captains and lighthouse keepers. Connie had dreams of being an artist or writer, but when light keeper Elson Small asked her, “Do you love me enough to go with me on a lighthouse?” she knew she had to say yes. They were soon married.
Connie and Elson had a 28-year career at light stations including Maine’s Avery Rock, Seguin Island, and St. Croix Island –also known as Dochet’s Island — and New Hampshire’s Portsmouth Harbor. Portsmouth Harbor Light Station was their first home with electricity, in 1946.
Some years after Elson’s death in 1960, a woman in a social club said to Connie, “How on earth could anyone have any kind of a life in a lighthouse?” That started Connie on a mission that led to the publication of her book The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife when she was 85 years old. Connie lived to the age of 103, passing away in 2005.
This interview was recorded at the Mark Wentworth Home in Portsmouth in 1997 by Light Hearted host Jeremy D’Entremont. It’s been edited for this podcast, and some of the questions have been re-recorded for sound quality and continuity.
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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