Digest>Archives> Jul/Aug 2022

Lighthouse Keeper Louis Napoleon de Diemar, Jr.

A Mini Biography


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Some web sites have incorrectly spelled Louis N. ...

Although he was born in Montreal, Canada, Louis Napoleon de Diemar, Jr. did not hesitate to join the United States Union Army to fight for the North at the outbreak of the Civil War. With his brother Benjamin, he joined the First Wisconsin Infantry. It was a decision that changed his life forever.

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The 1866 Southport Lighthouse in Kenosha, ...

Louis Napoleon de Diemar, Jr. was one of the 7,621 casualties of the Battle of Perrysville, Missouri, also known as the Battle of Chaplin Hills, where, on October 8, 1862, 1,422 soldiers were killed and 5,534 were wounded. It was here where Louis lost his right arm, which later helped him secure the appointment in 1872 as a lighthouse keeper at the Southport Lighthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin and a career in the U.S. Lighthouse Service that would last 41 years.

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Michigan’s South Haven South Pierhead Lighthouse ...

In 1874 he was able to get his wife, Mary, appointed as his assistant keeper at the Southport Lighthouse, a position she held until 1882.

When the Southport Lighthouse, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was discontinued on May 28, 1906, Louis N. de Diemar, Jr. was transferred to the Kenosha North Pier Lighthouse, where he served until 1907. Later he was appointed as the keeper of the South Haven South Pierhead Lighthouse in South Haven, Michigan, where he served until his death in 1913.

Lighthouse keeper Louis Napoleon de Diemar, Jr. claimed that he was related to Napoleon Bonaparte, who was Emperor of France in the early 1800s, and often showed others the paperwork that reportedly verified his heritage.

At some point Louis de Diemer, Jr. ran into trouble with Lighthouse Inspector J.M. Orchard who made allegations that he was lazy and lax in his duties, charges that were later dismissed after others came to de Diemar’s defense. However, the inspector persisted in his complaints, stating that as a one-armed keeper, Louis de Diemar, Jr. could not properly disassemble, clean, and reassemble the fog signal steam equipment. Finally, in front of a large gathering of witnesses, some who were government officials, he disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled the fog signal equipment and proceeded to start blasting the horn and reportedly did so until the lighthouse inspector left.

This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2022 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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