Messy & Disgraceful Lighthouse History

Lighthouses were government property; we lived in them, but anyone – inspector, citizen, or military – could come to the house, expecting to find hospitality and order. If the inspector thought the lighthouse wasn’t clean or we were wasting supplies, he could dismiss us in disgrace. (Lighthouse Loyalty, Chapter 1)

No, no, lighthouses aren’t supposed to messy and disgraceful. In fact, that would be explicitly against the lighthouse keeping rules made and enforced by the U.S. Lighthouse Board or the Bureau of Lighthouses.

However, it’s worth taking a look at the “darker side” of lighthouse history. What about the few keepers who failed in their duties? What did they do? And what was the punishment? Continue reading

Those Beautiful Lighthouse Lenses

Ever seen something practical, but it was just so mesmerizingly beautiful you couldn’t stop looking at it? You wanted to see it safe and protected forever as a piece of art…

That’s the way I feel about Fresnel Lenses. They were/are beautifully cut glass lenses used in lighthouses. Many are well over a hundred years old, and happily some of them have found safe homes in maritime or lighthouse museums.

Today, I’ll share briefly about how the lenses worked, a story about Fresnel lenses during the American Civil War, and a couple that I’ve seen in museums. Continue reading

Lighthouse Gardens

After a few days of this creative hauling, the garden boxes and barrels were filled and ready for planting, and the following afternoon, Mama put on her straw hat and invited us to help her in the garden. While Marian sat on a small quilt nearby, Jacob, Paul, and I poked the seeds into the warm earth. The vegetables were planted in the boxes and in two of the barrels. Two other barrels got flower seeds, and Mama had had the men move the last two barrels to the front of the lighthouse – facing the sea – and we planted the prettiest flowers there. Continue reading

Lighthouse Pets!

A faint meow distracted me. I glanced up anxiously. Mattie? Yes, there, a calico cat poked her nose curiously into the watchroom. After my days of searching, she had appeared when she was ready. Delighted to finally see her, I cautiously stepped down and then crawled across the floor, anxious to win her friendship with a gentle pat. “Here, Mattie… Aren’t you a pretty cat?” She stared at me for a second with scared eyes, turned, pressed against the wall, and darted back down the stairs. I plopped flat on the floor and leaned my head on my hand, discouraged. I was only going to be nice. Didn’t Mattie know that? Why was she still afraid? Continue reading

Children At Lighthouses

When you write a book about children living in a lighthouse, there must be some great historical accounts supporting the story. There are! I enjoyed reading accounts about lighthouse families and children as I researched for the historical novel Lighthouse Loyalty.

These are a few of my favorite facts and little stories about children who lived at American Lighthouses and how these accounts influenced my newest historical novel. Continue reading