Digest>Archives> Jul/Aug 2020

Posing in the Straits of Mackinac


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Although they are around, most lighthouse historians will agree that historic photos, especially close-up images, of Michigan’s 1895 Round Island Lighthouse in the Straits of Mackinac are hard to find.

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But, thanks to Ann Karrow, granddaughter of Great Lakes lighthouse keeper George H.A. Burzlaff (1882-1958), we now have two close-up images of the Round Island Lighthouse; one that even includes the lighthouse keeper and others posing on the lower porch walkway that went around the structure.

Shown to the very far left is George W. Smith, who was the head keeper of Round Island Lighthouse from 1911 to 1924. Smith joined the Lighthouse Service in 1900 at Michigan’s Manitou Island Light where he served in 1905. He then went on to serve at the following other Michigan lighthouses: Pointe Aux Barques from 1905 to 1907, Gull Rock from 1907 to 1910, and Crisp Point from 1910 to 1911. After Round Island Light, he was the head keeper at Spectacle Reef Light from 1924 to 1933.

George W. Smith’s obituary in the May 28, 1943 edition of the Times Herald of Port Huron, Michigan stated that at the time of his retirement he was the keeper of the Michigan’s Mendota (Bete Grise) Lighthouse. Smith died at the age of 72 in Boulder, Colorado and his remains were brought back to Detroit for burial.

Shown on the far right in the photograph is Leontine Burzlaff, wife of assistant keeper George H.A. Burzlaff, holding her daughter Naomi. The other people in the photograph have not been identified.

This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2020 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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