Digest>Archives> Jul/Aug 2021

Three Chesapeake Keepers Honored in Maryland


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Descendants of lighthouse keepers Noah and Nancy ...

This past May 8th the Chesapeake Chapter of the United States Lighthouse Society continued on their quest to honor the memory of lighthouse keepers who served in their region of the nation with ceremonies held at two separate cemeteries in Crisfield, Maryland.

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Descendants of lighthouse keeper Charles C. Tyler ...

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The Great Shoals Lighthouse at the entrance to ...

Noah and Nancy Lawson

Honored were Noah Moffet Lawson (1827-1901), and his wife, Nancy Wickett Ward Lawson (1833-1921), who served as the keeper and assistant keeper, respectively, at the Janes Island Lighthouse at the entrance to the Little Annemessex River near Crisfield, Maryland. Noah Lawson had previously served on the Janes Island Light Vessel from April 1, 1865 until 1867 when he was appointed the first keeper of the newly completed Janes Island Lighthouse.

After a fire completely destroyed the mainland home of the Lawson family, keeper Lawson was able to secure his wife Nancy’s appointment as the assistant keeper at the Janes Island Lighthouse, a position that she officially started on November 10, 1869. In 1871, they both resigned from the Lighthouse Service to apparently pursue other interests.

On January 20, 1879, the Janes Island Lighthouse was destroyed by ice. It was rebuilt that same year. Sadly, the 2nd Janes Island Lighthouse met the same fate as the first one when it was also destroyed by ice in March of 1936. There are no known photographs of keepers Noah and Nancy Lawson or of the Janes Island Light Vessel or the first Janes Island Lighthouse.

Charles C. Tyler

Charles C. Tyler (1859-1924) had an illustrious career in the United States Lighthouse Service where he served at various times at five different lighthouses from 1905 to 1921. In 1915, keeper Charles C. Tyler was awarded the red and gold Lighthouse Inspector’s Star for excellence during the previous year’s quarterly inspections.

In his obituary, published in the Crisfield Times on July 19, 1924, it was reported that “He was one of the most widely-known Light House Keepers on the Chesapeake Bay, having served at Watts Island Station, Somers Cove, Thimble Shoal and other stations in this section of the Bay, and at the time on his death was, and had been for several years, keeper of Great Shoals Light House, off Dames Quarter, in Tangier Sound.”

The newspaper went on to say, “Mr. Tyler was a man of many admirable qualities, and rightfully enjoyed the respect and high esteem of the entire community. He was a Christian gentleman who lived his Christianity in his daily life. In his early manhood he gave his heart to Christ, and since that time had been a consistent member of Asbury M. E. Church, and a loyal, enthusiastic worker for the good of the church, the cause of religion and the welfare of his community. A man of very congenial disposition, Mr. Tyler counted every man as his friend; and his high character, his scrupulous honesty and unquestioned integrity; his friendly word and his lovable disposition endeared him to all who knew him. His pastor, in his funeral sermon Thursday afternoon, characterized him as a Christian and a good man—a devoted husband and father, a good neighbor, a valuable citizen whose passing had created a void in the community, which it would be indeed hard to fill.”

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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