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The Patriotic Heroine of Point Bonita Lighthouse


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The image caption from the San Francisco Call ...

Editor’s note: On May 7, 1908, the San Francisco Call published the following article and illustration about Estelle Ingersoll, daughter of keeper John F. Ingersoll at Point Bonita Lighthouse, formally welcoming the Great White Fleet to San Francisco.

A high school girl won the honor yesterday of being the first person to officially salute the great Atlantic fleet as it cut into the romantic bit of cliff-walled water the world knows as the Golden Gate. From Bob Evans’ flagship, the Connecticut, came three whistles in answer and the Miss had achieved a glory that will be her pride for many a day.

Miss Estelle Ingersoll, daughter of the keeper of the Point Bonita lighthouse, is the heroine. Her face flushed, her hair windblown, she dipped the flag at the point as the Connecticut came up, leading the warship file. Three times the Stars and Stripes fell and rose again and they had hardly rested after their last ascent when from the flagship out on the waters came the responding whistle.

The throng on the Point, including Governor Gillett and his party, cheered the pretty girl and her pleasure at having saluted first and drawn the first return greeting from the incoming armada glowed on her features. The cameras snapped on her.

When the flagship was in line with the Mile Rock light, Miss Ingersoll seized the ropes, and there was a request that the crowd that had gathered in front of the flagstaff, near the edge of the bluff, part that the dipping of the colors might be seen by the warships. Quickly the people made a clear way, and the rosy-cheeked, hatless girl dipped the big flag in the most skillful fashion, though it was no easy task for one of her strength.

Then the watchers on the precipice fastened their gaze on Evans’ battleship that was leading the way into the harbor. Surely the gallant old Admiral would know in some way that it was a girl that was dipping the colors on the cliff for himself and his armada and return the salute, perhaps even touch off some of the twelve-inch guns in response.

The Admiral didn’t know, of course, but the expectant crowd was not disappointed. Back came the three whistles. It was all a formal matter for the fleet, but the crowd on the bluff couldn’t see anything to it but that the answer came because a girl, glowing with patriotic enthusiasm, had signaled San Francisco’s greeting to the Nation’s Pride.

The governor personally congratulated Miss Ingersoll as the heroine of the day. Now, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter will have to recount all to the other girls at the San Raphael High School where she is a senior, and they will all join in declaring Rear-Admiral Evans “just lovely,” as have all the women, young or old, at whatever port into which he has sailed.

This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2021 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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