Tag Archives: St. Augustine Lighthouse History

June 6, 2019: St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum to commemorate 75th anniversary of D-Day

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL – The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum will commemorate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day on Thursday, June 6, 2019 with special programs honoring our military. The ongoing programming will take place from 10 AM to 6 PM, with free admission for veterans and active U.S. military on this day.

The Museum will display “Field of Honor” signs on the front lawn of the Keepers’ House honoring friends and loved ones who have served. Donation is $50 per sign. To honor your loved one, order your sign online below, or please contact Tresa Calfee at tcalfee@staugustinelighthouse.org or call 904-829-0745, ext. 212.

ORDER SIGN HERE

Donations will go toward our upcoming permanent WWII exhibit, which will include items that relate to St. Augustine during World War II. The exhibit will display some of the 2,000 items currently housed in the Museum’s collection.

“Our collection primarily relates to United States Coast Guard (USCG), including the Women’s Reserve known as SPARS, with material specifically related to the people that trained or were stationed at the USCG centers in St. Augustine,” explains Jason Titcomb, Chief Curator at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.  “The breadth of the historic materials include military uniforms and accessories, military equipment, USCG training material, local USCG newspapers publications and primary source documents specific to the St. Augustine Lighthouse while it served as a coastal lookout for national defense.”

The collection also contains oral histories and photographs belonging to military personnel and residents in St. Augustine and North Florida region.  These photographs and personal accounts bring to life the significance that the community played during World War II.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is conducting an oral history project focusing on the legacy of Northeast Florida during World War II. Our mission is to preserve these stories for future generations. We are looking to hear from anyone who served in the war, lived in the area during the war, or have relatives whose stories you would be willing to share. If interested please contact Jay Smith at jsmith@staugustinelighthouse.org or call 904-829-0745 ext. 240 for more information.

The Tin Pickle Local Gedunk will serve food throughout the day. A gedunk is a canteen or snack bar aboard a large vessel of the U.S. Navy. This WWII-themed eatery features baked goods, specialty hot dogs and sandwiches, snacks, house-made fudge, sangria and locally brewed beer. 

For more details about the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, visit staugustinelighthouse.org or call 904-829-0745. Stay updated on social media at facebook.com/staugustinelighthouse, Instagram.com/stauglighthouse, and twitter.com/firstlighthouse

ABOUT THE ST. AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE & MARITIME MUSEUM:

A defensive and navigation tool and landmark of St. Augustine for 145 years, the St. Augustine Light Station watches over the waters of the Nation’s Oldest Port®. Through interactive exhibits, guided tours and maritime research, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, Inc. is on a mission to discover, preserve, present and keep alive the stories of the Nation’s Oldest Port® as symbolized by our working lighthouse. We are the parent organization to the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. (StAugustineLighthouse.org)

ABOUT THE AMERICAN ALLIANCE OF MUSEUMS:

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. As the ultimate mark of distinction in the museum field, accreditation signifies excellence and credibility. Accreditation helps to ensure the integrity and accessibility of museum collections,  and reinforces the education and public service roles of museums and promote good governance practices and ethical behavior. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. (www.aam-us.org) 

Keepers of the Light

Keepers of the Light

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Alphonso Daniels, 2nd Assistant Keeper, 1928 St. Augustine Lighthouse

When you think about lighthouse keepers, what comes to mind? Maybe it is long, lonely nights dutifully keeping the lamps burning for ships unseen. Alternatively, perhaps it is a long day spent painting the lighthouse tower. Lighthouse keeping meant a hard life, especially as we think about it today. Who do you imagine did these tasks?

During the lighthouse boom of the 19th century, jobs requiring a rugged self-reliance would have been male dominated endeavors. While both sexes had worked equally hard on the frontier during the 17th and 18th centuries, the Industrial Revolution cemented for the next 200-years western views of men’s role as the worker and women’s role in the house. The Lighthouse Service was no exception to this rule. Even though entire families worked from dawn until dusk at light stations across the country, males made up the overwhelming majority of government appointed lighthouse keepers, who received pay for the work they performed.

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Immigrant Light Keepers

Sandy Hook
Located in New Jersey, at the mouth of New York Harbor, the Sandy Hook Lighthouse was visible to immigrants on their way to Ellis Island (courtesy of the Library of Congress).

The connection between lighthouses and immigrants to the United States is inescapable. Dotting the coastline, the bright beacons were often the first sight of land for many people hoping to find opportunity and freedom in a new land. For some of these immigrants, their chance at a new life was closer than they may have thought. The ranks of lighthouse keepers saw a steady increase in foreign-born keepers through the 19th century.

Though subject to peaks and valleys, immigration into the United States steadily increased through the 19th century, peaking in the early 1880s. Immigrants in the second half of the 1800s arrived primarily from Europe, with Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Norway leading the way. Some immigrants to the United States in the 19th century found jobs doing the same work they did in the maritime industries of their home countries. Many had experience as sailors, fishermen, and harbor pilots. Continue reading

Research Reveals Two New Keepers

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The “Old Spanish Watchtower” after 1824

Historically, the list of known lighthouse keepers for the St. Augustine Lighthouse has begun with Juan Andreu in 1824, when the United States took over the Florida territory and converted an old watchtower into a US lighthouse. Juan Andreu became light keeper at that time and served until 1845. However, research has revealed two new names to add to the beginning of the list, before even Juan Andreu. The digitization of historical resources made these names much easier to find.

Efforts in providing digitized online images of historical documents and records have exploded in recent years. Information once hidden away in repositories, archives and libraries around the world are now accessible to anyone with the technology and familiarity to look. Internet sources like the Internet Archive, The Digital Public Library of America, and the Library of Congress provide entry into a world of freely available historical documents and resources (click the links and go exploring yourself!).

The Territorial Papers of the United States

As I began research on a new exhibit on Lighthouse history here in St. Augustine, I turned to one of my favorite online resources, HathiTrust, described as “a partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future.” Here I found digitized The Territorial Papers of the United States, Vol. 22 “The Territory of Florida, 1821-1824” as compiled and edited by Clarence Edwin Carter in 1956. This volume consists of important records relevant to the earliest years of Florida’s US territorial period. Continue reading

Constance Fenimore Woolson and “The Ancient City”

Constance Fenimore Woolson, an accomplished American writer, spent winters in St. Augustine with her ailing mother from 1873 to 1879. She wove her experiences into her writing, setting several fictional stories and poems in the streets and waterways of the town. She published one such story, aptly titled “The Ancient City,” in Volumes 50 (December 1874) and 51 (January 1875) of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. Her experiences coincided with the recent completion of, what was at that time, the new St. Augustine Lighthouse and Part One gives us a glimpse of the lighthouse and surrounding area.

The Lighthouses of “The Ancient City”

The New Lighthouse - from The Ancient City
The New Lighthouse from “The Ancient City”

In “The Ancient City,” Woolson’s narrator, Martha, tells of her experiences in St. Augustine, including a trip out to Anastasia Island with several companions. Aboard the boat, Martha spots the “new light-house, curiously striped in black and white like a barber’s pole.” There being fewer trees and little construction on the island then, “there was nothing to compare it with, not a hill or rise of land, not even a tall tree, and therefore it looked gigantic, a tower built by Titans rather than men.” Continue reading