Women Lighthouse Keepers

Women Lighthouse Keepers & Other Female Employees of the U.S. Lighthouse Board/Service


One of the first non-clerical U.S. government jobs that were open to women were positions as lighthouse keepers, although others did serve in staff positions at the various district and headquarter offices.  Typically those appointed as keepers were the spouse of the assistant or head keeper; they assumed these professional duties to assist their spouse or took over when their husbands became ill and/or died.  Nevertheless, many of these intrepid widows, and women appointed in their own right, served their country for many years with distinction in a time when employment for women was extremely limited. 

For detailed information please consult Mary Louise & J. Candace Cliffords' Women Who Kept the Lights: An Illustrated History of Female Lighthouse Keepers (Alexandria, VA: Cypress Communications, 2013); third edition and "Women's Work: Female Lighthouse Keepers in the Early Republic", a Master's thesis by Virginia Neal Thomas.

Name Light Station / Office Dates of service & other notes:
Mrs. Lillie Ahern  Redfish Bar, TX 1889-1892
Mrs. Margaret Anderson  Round Island, MS 1872-1881
Maria Andreu (aka Maria Mestre de los Dolores) St. Augustine, FL 1859-1862; First Hispanic-American woman to serve in a predecessor service of the Coast Guard.
Mrs. Sarah Atwood  Mayo's Beach, MA 1876-1891
Thelma Austin  Point Fermin, CA 1925-1941 
Margaret E. Bates  Cape Henlopen, DE May 1838 she sent a letter requesting appointment to replace her deceased husband.
Mrs. Lucy J. Baxter  Sandy Neck, MA 1862-1867
Elizabeth S. Beattie  New Canal, LA December 1846 letter from New Orleans Collector recommends appointment of Mrs. Thos. Beattie to replace her deceased husband.
Mary Eliza Bethel   Key West, FL Appointed assistant keeper in September 1891; Wife of principal keeper; 
Miriam Brandt  District Office Letters September 1882 and January 1883 for job exchange with Mrs. Ellen Ingle as writers.
Julia Toby Brawn  Bay City, MI 1873-1890; 
Mrs. Hannah Brayley  Ned' Point, MA 1846-1849
Mrs. Georgiana C. Brumfield  Turkey Point, MD 1895-1919
Amy Buddington  Stratford Point, CT 1848-1859 (1860?)
Abbie Burgess (Grant)  Matinicus Rock, ME & Whitehead, ME Matinicus: Assistant, 1867-1875; Whitehead: Assistant, 1875-1890 
Mrs. Dora Burgess  South Pass East Jetty, LA Appointed acting assistant keeper in May 1891; promoted to assistant in December 1882; Resigned in October 1895 because "The Lighthouse foundation is in dangerous condition."
Alice Butterworth  Pass Christian, MS 1877-1882
Mrs. Mary F. Campbell   New Canal, LA Appointed keeper in July 1869.
Annie M. Carlson  Granite Island, MI 1903-1905
Mary A. Carroll  Key West, FL Appointed assistant keeper in October 1873; acting keeper May 1889.
Fanny Chase Cuttyhunk Island, MA1844-1847
Mrs. Christiansen  Mukilteo, WA 1925-1927
Mrs. Minnie Cochems  Sherwood Point, WI 1912-1928
Harriet E. Colfax   Michigan City, IN 1861-1904 
Minnie E. Coteron  Bayou St. John, LA 1906-after 1912
Mrs. Sally Ann Crandall  Watch Hill, RI 1879-1888
Mrs. Rebecca L. Crouch  Turkey Point, MD 1873-1895
Miss Kate A. Crowley  Saugerties, NY 1873-1885
Mrs. Eliza A. Daboll  Morgan's Point, CT 1838 - ?; 
Mrs. Ann Davis  Point Lookout, MD 1830-1847 
Mrs. Sallie Dear  Pass Christian, MS 1874-1877; resigned
Amelia Deweese  Old Point Comfort, VA 1857-1861
Elizabeth Diman Bristol Ferry, RI1856-1857
Mrs. J. M. Donnelly  Amelia Island, FL Assistant keeper; Removed in May, 1871.
Mrs. Ann Dudley  St. Marks, FL 1850-1854
Mrs. Mary Easton  Nantucket Cliff Beacons, MA 1852-1856
Mrs. Ann Edson  Turtle Island, OH 1869-1870
Mrs. Ella Edwards  Nansemond River, VA 1903-1906
Mrs. Martha A. Edwards  Point Lookout, MD 1853-1855; resigned in 1855
Pamela (Permelia?) Edwards   Point Lookout, MD 1855-1869
Flora Engle  Admiralty Head, Whitby Island, WA (?); Resigned in September, 1868.
Jane Enos  St. Joseph's, MI 1876-1881
Mrs. Sarah J. Fine  St. Marks, FL 1904-1910
Mrs. Emily A. Fish  Point Pinos, CA 1893-1914 
Rebecca Flaherty  Sand Key, FL 1830-1837 
Mrs. Jessie Fisher  Head of Passes, LA 1864-1866
Mary A. Foster  Old Field Point, NY 1869
Josephine Freeman  Blackistone, MD 1876-1912
Mrs. Annie Gage  Bayou St. John, LA 1895-1906
Mrs. Anna Garraty  Presque Isle, MI 1903-1926
Mrs. Hannah Ham (Harn?)  Point Isabel, TX 1860-1861
Mrs. Harriet Gill  Pond Island, ME 1864-1867
Mrs. Sarah E. Lane Grand  Mission Point, MI 1906-1908
Mrs. Julia Ann Griswold  Eagle River, MI 1861-1865
Mrs. Donald E. Harrison  St. Mary's River, MI 1902-1904
Susan Harvey    Mahon, DE Following the death of her husband Thos. E. Harvey, also a keeper; Letters praising her work and protesting her possible removal cover period from 1849-1859.  She was dismissed after a lengthy political struggle.  She had several small children to raise; 
Mrs. Mary R. Havens  Ship Island, MS 1855-1858
Mrs. Mary Ann Heath  Newport Harbor, RI 1868-1873
Miss Laura J. Hecox  Santa Cruz, CA 1883-1917 
Mary Henningson  Southwest Pass, LA Appointed assistant keeper May 1864 (dated from 1 October 1863); Resigned in November 1869.
Mary J. Herwerth  Bluff Point, NY 1881-1903
Miss C. A. Hiern  Pass Christian, MS 1844-1861
Annie Bell Hobbs  Boon Island, ME 1876
Melissa Holden  Deer Island, ME Temporary appointment during illness and death of her husband, Samuel F. Holden, months of February and March, 1874.  Permanent appointment April 1874; removed as incompetent in May 1876.
Mrs. Sarah Ann Hooper  Elm Tree, NY 1859-1867
Mrs. Eunice Howes  Sandy Neck, MA 1880-1886
Mrs. Thomas Hudson  Cow Island, NY 1853-1873
Betsy Morrow Humphrey  Monhegan Island, ME 1862-1880
Mrs. Merrill Hussey  Cape San Blas, FL Appointed assistant keeper in April, 1869.
Mrs. Ellen Ingle  District Office, Baltimore, MD Letters September 1882 and January 1883 for job exchange with Miriam Brandt as writers.
Mrs. Michaela Ingraham  Pensacola, FL 1840-1855
Helen Jackson  District Office,
Baltimore, MD
Clerk, appointed February 1891; promoted in January 1898; resigned in January 1902; (born in Baltimore, MD, 1849).
Miss S. D. Jackson  Lighthouse Board
Washington, DC
Clerk, dates?; services declared surplus in May 1885.
Mrs. Josephine Worth James  Third District Office
Staten Island, NY
Writer, date?; Dismissed due to absenteeism and neglect in July 1882.
Frances Johnson White River, MI 1948-1954
Miss Louise M. Johnson  Charleston, SC Appointed? (possibly 24 September 1888); released and replaced by Mills, L.S. (1890?).
Mrs. Sarah E. Johnson  Humboldt Bay, CA 1859-1863
Mrs. Ellen Lyons (Kilmartin)  Throggs Neck, NY 1876-1881
Martha C. Lawrence  Pensacola, FL Assistant keeper September 1880; resigned November 1885 (Wife of Samuel C. Lawrence, Born 1851).
Mrs. Joanna Lawton  Schodack Channel, NY 1860-1873
Mrs. Charlotte A. Layton  Point Pinos, CA 1856-1860
Ida Lewis   Lime Rock, RI 1857-1911; (See Cliffords' Women Who Kept the Lights or click here for further information)
Mrs. Zoraida Lewis  Lime Rock, RI 1872-1879; (according to Cliffords Zoraida Lewis, Ida's mother, was appointed as the head keeper although Ida actually performed the duties during the 1872-79 period).
Sarah Levy  Fishing Battery Island, MD 1853-1855
Caroline Litigot (Autaya)  Mamajuda, MI 1874-1885
Miss Abby H. Long  Whitehead, ME Daughter of Keeper Hezikiah Long; Whitehead: assistant, 1867-1875; Cape Elizabeth: Appointed but declined.
Mrs. Elizabeth Lusby  Turkey Point, MD 1844-1862
Barbara Mabrity  Key West, FL 1832-1862 
Eliza MacCashian  [McCashin]  Passiac, NJ Appointed acting assistant keeper in May 1881; Wife of former keeper.
Cliffords note 1903-1914; served as assistant keeper 1890-1894. 
Mary J. Madden  Pensacola, FL Appointed assistant keeper in June of 1869; resigned in July 1870.
Mrs. Mary Maher  Oyster Beds Beacon & Cockspur Island, GA 1853-1856
Martha Mariner  Cape Elizabeth, ME Appointed assistant keeper in August 1867; resigned in July 1868.
Susan Mariner  Cape Elizabeth, ME Appointed second assistant keeper in July 1868; resigned in 1869.
Jane E. Martin  Marblehead, MA 1860-1863
Kate Marvin  Squaw Point, MI 1897-1904
Charlotte Ann Mason Cape Lookout, NC Daughter of Head Keeper Manaen W. Mason.  She was appointed assistant keeper on 2 August 1873 and served until 27 May 1875.
Ellen McCormick  Pensacola, FL Appointed assistant keeper in October 1864; wife of Robert McCormick (she was born in Ireland in 1828)
Mrs. Francis McDonald  Morgan's Point, CT 1869-1871
Mrs. Hannah McDonald  Bergen Point, NJ 1873-1879
Elizabeth M. McDougal  Fifth Lighthouse District Office;
Baltimore, MD
Appointed as a writer in February 1893; resigned in June 1898.  (She was born in Washington, DC, in 1870, daughter of Charles J. and Kate Caffrey McDougal).
Kate C. McDougal    Mare Island, CA Appointed keeper in December 1881; 1881-1916; 
Mrs. Joanna McGee  Marblehead, OH 1896-1903
Mrs. Annie McGuire   Pentwater, MI Removed as keeper "for drunkenness and irregular habits" in February 1885; as quoted in Cliffords' Women Who Kept the Lights, p. 186.
Mrs. Catherine McGuire  Thunder Bay, MI Appointed assistant keeper transferred to Marquette, MI in March 1882; Removed in July 1891 at request of husband, Patrick H. McGuire
Maggie McLeod  Lighthouse Board
Washington, DC
Clerk; died in April 1886.
Mrs. Flora McNeil  Bridgeport Breakwater, CT 1904-1920
Mrs. Margaret Mitchell  South Pass, LA Appointed assistant keeper in February 1871; transferred to Southwest Pass as first assistant in June 1873; resigned in October 1875.
Mrs. William M. Monroe  Muskegon, MI 1862-1871
Catherine A. Moore  Black Rock Harbor, CT 1817-1878 
Leslie Moore  Fort Columbus Fog Bell, NY 1873-1882
Mrs. Caroline Morse   Santa Barbara, CA 1905-1911 
Clarinda Mott  Windmill Point, VT 1859-1862
Catherine A. Murdock  Rondout Creek, NY 1857-1907 
Angeline M. Nickerson  Chatham, MA 1848-1862 
Juliet Nichols  Angel Island, CA 1902-1914 
Maggie [Margaret] R. Norvell    Head of Passes; Port Pontchartrain, & New Canal Light Stations, (all in LA) Appointed acting keeper in April 1891; husband, Louis V. Norvell, deceased; served at Head of Passes until 1896; Port Pontchartrain: 1896-1924; New Canal: 1924-1932; 
Ann Nuthall  Piney Point, MD 1850-1861 
Mrs. Jane O'Driscoll  New Canal, LA Temporary appointment as keeper in June 1850; (vice H.H. O'Driscoll, husband, died in 1850); Resigned in March 1853.
Mrs. Has M. O'Malley Bois Blanc, MI1854-1855
Mrs. Esther O'Neill  Havre de Grace (Concord Point), MD 1863-1881
Mrs. Eva Pape  Sheboygan, WI 1869-1885
Mrs. Carmalite Philibert  Choctaw Point, AL 1842-1852
Mrs. Patty Potter  Stonington, CT 1842-1854 
Mrs. Anna M. Read  West Rigolets, LA 1898-1912
Mary (or Maria) J. Reynolds  Biloxi, MS 1854-1866 
Mrs. Caroline Riddle  New Canal, LA 1893-1924
Elizabeth Riley  North Point, MD 1834-1857 
Lydia Rogers  Aransas Pass, TX 1908-1921
Melinda Rose  Stony Point, NY 1904-1905 
Nancy Rose  Stony Point, NY 1857-1904 
Mrs. Mary H. Ryan  Calumet Harbor Entrance, IN 1873-1880 
Mrs. Ella G. Quick  Sand Island, WI 1903-1906
Fannie May Salter  Turkey Point, MD 1925-1947 
Mrs. H. Schmuck  North Point, MD 1864-1865 
Mrs. Schooner  Port Washington, WI 1860-1861
Jeanette S. Sharrer  Third Lighthouse District, NY Appointed writer in July 1892; resigned in September 1892.
Mrs. Edward Shoemaker  Old Field Point, NY 1826-1827 
Catharine Shook  Pointe aux Barques, MI 1849-1851
Mrs. Leila P. Simmon  Brant Island, NC Appointed acting assistant keeper in April 1895; resigned in June 1895.  Husband in LH Service at Currituck Beach, NC.  She was born in North Carolina, 1858.
Mrs. Eulalia Simpson  Hatteras Inlet, NC Appointed acting assistant keeper in May 1894; full appointment in April 1896, resigned in December 1896 (wife of A. J. Simpson).
Mrs. Eliza Smith  New Baltimore Stake Light, NY 1864-1870
Mrs. Elizabeth Smith  Old Field Point, NY 1830-1856 
Lydia Smith  Manitou Island, MI 1855-1856
Mary L. Smith   Ediz Hook, WA & Point Fermin, CA Appointed keeper (1870?); Edix Hook: 1870-1874; Point Fermin: 1874-1882; removed in May 1882; 
Georgia A. Stebbins  North Point, WI 1881-1907
Mrs. Laura Blach Stratton  Ediz Hook, WA 1874-1885
Margaret Stuart   Bombay Hook, DE 1850-1862 
Mrs. Caroline Stubbs  Palmer's Island, MA 1862-1873 (1874?)
Mrs. Mary J. Succow  Pass Manchac, LA 1873-1909
Charlotte Suter  Piney Point, MD 1844-1846
Mrs. Emma D. Tabberrah  Cumberland Head, NY 1904-1919 
Mrs. Rosannah Tatham  Bodkin Island, MD 1845-1847
Mary L. Terry  Sand Point, MI 1868-1886 
Hannah Thomas  Gurnet Point, MA 1776-1786 
Mrs. Sarah Thomas  Cove Point, MD 1857-1859
Harriet Towner  Michigan City, IN 1844-1853
Mrs. Eliza Truckey  Marquette, MI 1862-1865
Helen C. Tune  Piney Point, MD 1877-1883 
Livenia Twiford Little Watts Island, VA1848-1848
Mrs. Harriet Valliant  Sharp's Island, MD 1851-1856
Mary H. Vreeland  Gibraltar Lighthouse, MI Station closed and she was released as keeper in April 1879; named property custodian.
Mrs. Abbey Waite  Warwick Neck, RI 1832-1838
Kate Walker  Robbins Reef, NY 1894-1919 
Miss B. M. Watson  Mare Island, CA Appointed first assistant keeper in December 1876.
Mrs. Theresa C. Watson  Mare Island, CA 1873-1881
Miss Martha V. Watts  Pensacola, FL Appointed assistant keeper in August  1867; resigned in May 1869.
Mrs. Demairs Weeden  Beavertail, RI 1848-1857
Mary A. Wheatley  Eagle Harbor Range, MI 1898-1905
Ann Witbeck  Stuyvesant, NY 1853-1866
Mrs. Christian Witbeck  Stuyvesant, NY 1841-1853
Catharine Whittlesey  Lynde Point, CT 1840-1852 
Elizabeth (Van Riper) Williams  Beaver Island Harbor Point, MI &
Little Traverse, MI
Beaver Island Harbor Point: 1872-1884; Little Traverse: 1884-1913; 
Mrs. Julia F. Williams  Santa Barbara, CA 1865-1905 
Eliza A. Wilson  Piney Point, MD 1873-1877 
Ellen Wilson  Port Pontchartrain, LA 1882-1896 
Mrs. Rachel Wolcott  Marblehead, OH 1832-1834
Mrs. Mary E. Yewell  Sandy Point, MD 1860-1861
Maria Younghans  Biloxi, MS 1867-1918; resigned
Miranda Younghans  Biloxi, MS 1918-1929

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