Digest>Archives> August 2000

Keeper at Dutch Island Light


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Shown here is Capt. John Paul, with his three sons. Paul served as keeper at Rhode Island’s Dutch Island Lighthouse until it was automated in 1931. In 1971, Paul’s son Louis recalled life on Dutch Island to the local historical society. In the 1920’s, the Paul family came to the island from Bordan Flats Lighthouse, in Fall River, MA, a very restrictive, barrel-type light. Capt. Paul was awarded the Carnegie Hero Fund medal for a heroic rescue that he participated in at Bordon Flats Lighthouse.

The Pauls liked Dutch Island with its larger dwelling, its open scenery and ground for a garden. Capt. Paul kept ducks. He found fishing outstanding and would rise early, go out to the rocks and catch a bushel of blackfish before breakfast.

When he needed to go ashore, either to Saunderstown or Jamestown for supplies, he hoisted a rag on a pole to signal the ferry pilots that he wanted them to stop by, which they did. Once ashore Capt. Paul would buy large quantities of food, a side of beef at a time, for example, which he salted away at the lighthouse. The Lighthouse Service supplied the family with coal in the winter and drinking water all year long.

We wish to thank Viola Jenks for sending us this information and sharing this vintage photograph with us.

This story appeared in the August 2000 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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