Digest>Jan/Feb 2010

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Nils Nelson served as an assistant keeper at Sakonnet Point Lighthouse from 1901 to 1903 when he was promoted to Head Keeper. In June of 1904, he bravely rescued a man from drowning whose boat had smashed on the rocks near the lighthouse. Nelson was awarded the gold lifesaving medal. For some reason, Nelson was demoted in 1907 and was transferred to Southwest Ledge Lighthouse in New Haven, Connecticut. His demotion may have been the result of a mental problem that was not properly diagnosed at the time. The head keeper at Southwest Ledge Lighthouse, Jorgen Tonneson, later recalled Nelson's erratic behavior and, fearing for his life, Tonneson brought his brother-in-law to the lighthouse to live with him for extra protection against bodily harm from Nelson. However, Tonneson never reported Nelson's behavior to the lighthouse authorities. On January 2, 1907, while on shore leave, the gold medal recipient, Nils Nelson, took his own life, tragically ending what could have otherwise been an illustrious lighthouse career.
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Sakonnet Lighthouse To Be Restored
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