Digest>Archives> May/Jun 2015

Saving Forgotten, Misplaced, or Lost History


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Lighthouse keeper Andrew H. Rattray. (Courtesy ...

One of the primary goals of Lighthouse Digest is to locate, document, and the write about the memories of the lighthouse keepers and their family members who lived at our lighthouses, and to locate photographs to go with the stories. These people helped build America. They had their dreams, their beliefs, their goals. They raised families, they suffered hardships, they loved, they cried, and they celebrated life. They had good times, they had hard times, and they often made great sacrifice for the benefit of others. Today, hundreds of these people have been forgotten, but they must not be. In many cases, the pages of history don’t know what these people looked like or what their lives were like. We believe that it is vital to tell their stories for today’s generation, and to be saved for future generations.

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St. Clair Flats Canal Upper Lighthouse where ...

But, often times locating the memories, stories, and photographs can be extremely time-consuming and expensive. Sometimes that information is tucked away in attics, and the descendants have no idea that we are looking for them; sometimes they are stored in the files of a museum or historical society, museum, or library, and no one has looked at them or seen them in years.

This is why we need folks to subscribe to Lighthouse Digest, because without paid subscriptions, we simply can’t afford to do the costly research that it takes to locate and document their photos and memories.

One such example is Andrew E. Rattray (1852-1948) who was the keeper at Michigan’s St. Clair Flats North Ship Canal Lighthouse from 1883 to 1919. We would like to tell his story, but we have not been able to locate much about him, which is astounding, especially since he was a keeper at one lighthouse for over 25 years. Surely, someone must have interviewed him or written about him. Or perhaps we are just looking in the wrong places. This is just one example of hundreds of lighthouse keepers whose photographs and stories have never been researched, documented, or told.

If you can help in any way, we’d love to hear from you at Editor@LighthouseDigest.com or by mail at Lighthouse Digest, P.O. Box 250, East Machias, ME 04630. Otherwise, please be sure to renew your subscription and please encourage others to subscribe to Lighthouse Digest. Or, although it is not tax deductible, you can make a donation to our research fund. We need your help in saving our lighthouse history.

This story appeared in the May/Jun 2015 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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