Digest>Archives> Mar/Apr 2013

Descendants of Bodie Island Lighthouse Keepers to Gather in October 2013

Search Is On for Descendants


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Although we don’t know the names of the three ...

A gathering of direct descendants of the lighthouse keepers who served at North Carolina’s Bodie Island will be held on the weekend of October 18-20, 2013, with the main event to be held on Saturday, October 19 at the Bodie Island Lighthouse. The Outer Banks Lighthouse Society (OBLHS) and the National Park Service are cosponsoring the event, which is titled “Bodie Island Lighthouse Descendants Homecoming” (BOLD.)

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As well as being a lighthouse keeper at Bodie ...

The event, the first of its kind to be held at Bodie Island Lighthouse, is being somewhat patterned after the highly successful Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Keepers Descendants Homecoming that was held in 2001 and attended by 1200 lighthouse keepers’ descendants.

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James Duncan Wilkins (1850-1915), shown here in ...

The Bodie Island Lighthouse event will also give the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of all Bodie Island Lighthouse keepers a chance to imagine what life was like for their keeper ancestors and to learn more about the legacy of the U.S. Lighthouse Service. The event will also give descendants an opportunity to meet other families who share the heritage of the Bodie Island Lighthouse, to climb the lighthouse stairs much the same as their ancestors, to take tours of the keepers’ quarters and grounds, and to meet surviving keepers’ children who grew up at the lighthouse.

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Loren Edward Tillett, Sr. (Mar. 3, 1891- Oct. 2, ...

Special programs are planned for the keepers’ descendants. Experts will talk on various subjects including the restoration project, lighthouse lenses and their care, family life at the light station, and the history of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, which will give descendants a glimpse into the world of a lighthouse keeper.

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At his retirement on September 30, 1954, after 40 ...

The OBLHS has launched an official search for direct descendants of the Bodie Island Lighthouse keepers so they can be invited to this event. Additionally, a book of oral and family histories about the lighthouse will be published by OBLHS to commemorate the event.

“We are looking forward to working with interested groups such as the U.S. Coast Guard, North Carolina’s Dare County Visitors Bureau, Outer Banks History Center, our lighthouse volunteers, and others for this event. We want to make this a really special event for everyone who has a connection to the Bodie Island Lighthouse,” stated Bett Padgett, OBLHS president. “We see this as an opportunity to help descendants learn about the duties of their grandfathers, great-grandfathers and beyond, and at the same time we hope to learn more about their families and their lives while tending the lighthouse. This will be a very positive event for all of us.” But perhaps even more importantly, the event will also help tell and preserve the family history, some of it forgotten, that will now be rediscovered and can be saved for anyone of all future generations who would be interested in lighthouses.

Those interested in donating to, or becoming a sponsor of, this epic event are encouraged to contact Cheryl Shelton-Roberts at cheryl@ec.rr.com or Bruce Roberts at broberts2@ec.rr.com. Direct descendants interested in receiving an invitation and sharing information on a Bodie Island Lighthouse keeper’s family may email bold@outer-banks.com. You can also write to OBLHS at P.O. Box 1005, Morehead City, NC 28557. A database, created by RAI Associates, awaits Bodie Island Lighthouse Keepers’ descendants to fill out a simple form that will be reviewed by a certified genealogist at http://www.outer-banks.com/bodieislandhomecoming/ so that an invitation to the event can be offered. You can also call (252) 247-5436.

This story appeared in the Mar/Apr 2013 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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