Keepers

The records for the keepers at Spring Point Ledge Light Station are spotty. The handwritten log books were not signed, so it’s difficult to tell who was on duty when an entry was made. There are only a few surviving records of the keepers who served after 1912. After the Lighthouse Service was transferred to the Department of Commerce in 1903 a transition began to a more formalized method of appointing keepers. It was put under Civil Service rules and required a considerable amount of paperwork to operate.

Asst. Keeper Daniel J. Doyle

Asst. Keeper Daniel J. Doyle

Take the case of Assistant Keeper Daniel J. Doyle. He took the exam for the position in 1914 and was informed that he was number seventeen on the list of applicants. He moved up to number three by June 15, 1915, “due to the declination” of eligible names and was recommended to the post of Assistant Keeper as of July 10, 1915.

Keeper Roster

A payroll roster of keepers in the early days. Note William A. Lane, the station’s first keeper, is listed at the top suggesting that this roster is from 1897 or 1898.

However, before all of this he was appointed to a probationary position as a “laborer” at Spring Point Ledge at the same salary as an Assistant Keeper. This appears to have been a method to speed up the bureaucratic process when a body was needed sooner than the red tape could provide one.

In the beginning, assistant keepers at Spring Point Ledge Light were paid around $450 annually; head keepers were paid $540. This is roughly equivalent to $16,000 a year in 2014 dollars, not a lot by any measure.

Doyle was officially appointed Assistant Keeper on June 22, 1915, with a probationary period not to exceed six months! On December 27, 1915 he was finally appointed to Assistant Keeper at a recently increased annual salary of $516 effective January 1, 1916.

Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse was a light station which could not allow families due to the lack of space, a fluctuating water supply, and a certain lack of sanitary facilities. Thus, the keeper had to maintain an onshore residence for his family. Normally, a keepers’ dwelling would be furnished by the keeper, but in the case of “stag” lights, the Lighthouse Service authorized furnishings for the keepers. It is probably safe to assume that the furniture purchased was very basic yet serviceable. In later years under the Coast Guard virtually everything was furnished by the service.