Although Maine lighthouse keeper Allen Carter Holt is mentioned in a few places in the historical files of Maine’s lighthouses, very little was known about his personal life, and there were no known photographs of him. However, thanks to a recently discovered family photo album, now, for the first time in history, we are able to publish a few photos of him and some of his family members, along with information about him from our research.
Allen Carter “Al” Holt was born on August 17, 1865 in Ellsworth, Maine to Captain Jones Wesley Holt and his wife Carsilla. The Holts were a seafaring family and Allen was named after his uncle, Captain Allen Carter Holt of Lamoine, Maine.
While a young man, Allen joined the family trade and also went to sea. On February 3, 1899, Allen Carter Holt married Henrietta “Hattie” Remick, and the couple went on to have two children: Louisa Carsilla (b. 1900) and Carl R. Holt (b. 1902). He also had another son, Earle D., by a previous marriage to Flora Doyle.
By 1900, Allen had become a sea captain while in his early 30s. Another one of his uncles, Captain Charles S. Holt had retired from the sea to serve as the keeper at Nash Island Lighthouse from 1883 to 1902, followed by Pumpkin Island Lighthouse from 1902 to 1911. Perhaps Uncle Charles influenced Allen to give up his mariner trade and join the U.S. Lighthouse Service as he had done. Or maybe Allen’s wife wanted him to be home to help raise the young children.
Whatever the reason, Allen Carter Holt started his lighthouse keeping career in 1905 at age 40 as an assistant keeper at Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse in Maine.
In 1906, Allen Carter Holt was appointed as 3rd assistant keeper at Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse and was promoted to 2nd assistant keeper in 1907. In 1910, he secured the position as head keeper of Nash Island Lighthouse where he served until 1916.
A local newspaper on December 23, 1913 recounted a hunting trip of keeper Holt’s son, who perhaps was trying to impress his parents with bringing home the holiday dinner, when they wrote, “Carl Holt of Nash Island, 11 years old, set out hunting with his gun and a water spaniel, 14 months old. They returned after a short time with two ducks. It was the first capture for each of the young hunters.”
While stationed at Nash Island Lighthouse, Holt’s children, Carl and Louisa, were home-schooled by Holt’s wife. However, in 1916 when Allen Carter Holt swapped light stations with John Purington to become the keeper of Deer Island Thorofare Lighthouse, the children then attended school on the mainland in Stonington, Maine. During the winter months, the children were boarded in town, but they would often make trips back to the island during school breaks, as well as being on the island during the entire summer months.
In 1920, Allen Carter Holt left Deer Island Thorofare Lighthouse to become the head keeper of Maine’s Owls Head Lighthouse. Because Owls Head Lighthouse was on the mainland, life was now easier for keeper Holt and his wife. No longer would they have to rely on travel by boat across open and sometimes dangerous water for supplies and the mail.
In 1927, life took a dramatic turn for Allen Carter Holt, as was reported in several March newspapers of that year across the country when they wrote about the death of his wife. “The back of a common postcard contained the last will and testament of Mrs. Hattie F. Holt of Owls Head filed at the Knox County Register of Probates. The will was made out by Mrs. Holt when she was sick in the Knox County Hospital and was dated October 29, 1926.” The will was witnessed by Dr. Walter Spear, and Myra Joyce, and Katherine Allen, who all signed their names to the back of the postcard.
The following year, 1928, not long after his wife’s death, Allen Carter Holt, then age 63, retired as lighthouse keeper and left Owls Head Lighthouse but remained in Owls Head Village. Perhaps lighthouse life had become too lonely for him without his wife by his side and he desired to be in the company of others. His son, Carl, had moved to New York but his daughter, Louisa, was relatively nearby in Bar Harbor with her husband and two children. Allen Cart Holt died on June 6, 1935, seven years after his retirement. He was buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Owls Head, Maine.
This story appeared in the
Jul/Aug 2019 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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