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Dept. of Commerce and Labor...
No one had ever seen a live buffalo...
After the War for Independence...
Four years after the Westphal and Herman families...
By the time Edward made the decision...
MAY 1907 U.S.L.H.S
Edward's appointment...
The first rule Edward had to learn...
The pier down the beach was long...
Lake Erie had a reputation for danger...
Served his first season as Asst. Lighthouse Keeper
Nine days into the new year...
Perhaps it was an indication of the year to come...
Filling the emptiness of Alfred's death...
By 1912, there were indications...





Department of Commerce and Labor
Office of the Secretary

                                                                                       May 4, 1907



“Mr. Edward M. Herman, ____________   of___________   New York, having qualified under the civil-service regulations, is hereby appointed Assistant Keeper of Horseshoe Reef Light-Station, New York in the Light-House Service with compensation at the rates of Four Hundred and Ninety dollars per annum, for a probationary period of six months, effective beginning May 5, 1907, or as soon thereafter as he enters on duty.

Retention in the service after the expiration of probationary period shall be equivalent to absolute appointment.

Payment of the compensation authorized in this appointment is subject to the oath of office being taken.”

                                                                                Assistant Secretary

There were two letters sent to Edward M. Herman the month of May 1907.  The first dated May 4, 1907 informed Edward he had qualified for the position, and appointed him Assistant Keeper of Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse.  The second letter dated May 9, 1907 was sent to 346 Broad Street, Tonawanda, New York.  This letter directed Edward to report for duty at once to Mr. Thomas Joseph, Keeper of Horseshoe Reef Light-Station, Buffalo Harbor, New York.

Edward was assigned to one of the most dangerous and unappealing lighthouses on the Great Lakes.  He had left the Revenue Cutter Service, trading the dangerous life of a sailor for an even more dangerous life of a lighthouse keeper.  His pay for this assignment was only an increase of ten dollars per year over his Revenue Cutter Service salary.  Two days after receiving the second letter, Edward M. Herman reported for duty to Mr. Thomas Joseph, the Head Lighthouse Keeper of the Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse.  Retiring a Revenue Cutter Service uniform for a lighthouse keeper’s uniform, Edward was officially now a Lighthouse Keeper.  He would never go back to sail the inland seas again, unless the ship was engaged in a rescue or he was a passenger. 

When the 1906 navigational season ended and the New Year began, ship disasters dominated the news.  January 1907 was a busy and devastating month for shipwrecks.  The British steamship Pengwem foundered in the North Sea with the entire crew and twenty-four men lost.  The Prinz Waldemar (Hamburg-American line) ran aground after the January 14 Kingston, Jamaica earthquake.  The quake killed over 1,000 people; the ship reported three lives lost.  The month of February was not any better.  There were four major shipwrecks sustaining major loss of life.  On February 11, a French warship sunk off the coast of Morocco.  The next day the steamship Larchmont collided with the Harry Hamilton in the Long Island sound.  The result was the loss of 183 lives.  Just nine days later, the English mail ship the Berlin wrecked off the Hook of Holland with 142 lives lost.  Three days later, the Austrian Lloyd steamship the Imperatix wrecked on the Cape of Crete.  The ship sunk with 137 lives lost.  March was a respite for ship disasters with only one recorded wreck and only seven lives lost.  Another shipwreck occurred in July when the steamship Columbia sank off Shelton Cove in California after colliding with the steamship San Pedro.  There were 50 lives lost.  Edward had already seen and experienced the disasters the seas, oceans and Great Lakes were capable of producing.  Now he would be the one responsible for maintaining the ever-present light to guide the ships, sailors and passengers to the harbor of safety.  Edward had arrived at the final path of his career journey.  He was right were he wanted to be.

When Edward left the Revenue Cutter Service, the world was heading toward the technological explosion that would eventually signal the end of the lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper.  The world however, did not know this in 1907.  Two events shaped the year 1907 that was to have far-reaching affects, radio waves and electricity.  On March 5 the first radio broadcast of a musical composition occurred.  The last day of the year, the first electric ball dropped in Times Square in New York City.  Life in the modern era was beginning to resemble the world that Edward’s future nieces and nephews would experience.  On May 31, taxis began running in New York City and two days later women rejoiced over the introduction of automatic washers and dryers.  This luxury was not for those who lived in small towns or rural communities.  Right along the heels of this introduction was the invention of the first Hoover vacuum cleaner. 

Ships sailing into the ports and harbors carried more arrivals who wanted to make a new start in the land of opportunity.  On April 17, a reported 11,745 immigrants arrived at Ellis Island.  The America they desired to live in was not always a better place.  The New York Times reported on January 30, an outbreak of scarlet fever and diphtheria in Chicago.  City officials requested all social functions cease to stop the spread of both diseases.  It was a grim reminder that although modern inventions were making life easier, medical inventions and discoveries were not yet capable of conquering life threatening diseases. 

The airplane, which had only recently made its historic flight at Kitty Hawk, was considered an important benefit to the military.  On July 1, the United States Army established the world’s first air force.  Only ten years later, they would be used in warfare.  Ironically, in September a new passenger liner made its maiden voyage from Liverpool, England to New York City.  This ship eventually helped turn the tide of national opinion and the United States’ entrance into WWI.  The RMS Lusitania sailed on September 7, completing this journey without incident.  She would not be so lucky almost ten years later. 

The United States experienced another disaster the year of 1907 only it did not involve a ship or disease.  On October 22, the Panic of 1907 began, signaling an economic disaster.  One month later on November 16, the Indian Territory and the Oklahoma Territory became Oklahoma.  The newly merged territory was admitted into the union as the 46th state.  With all the technological inventions sweeping the country, none compared to the telephone.  Less then thirty years after the first voice was heard talking, the telephone growth in the United States numbered over 7,000,000 and had produced over 90,000 jobs.  The telephone would also become an important tool connecting lighthouses to Life Saving Stations.   Later, Edward learned its many benefits in helping to save lives from ship disasters. 

 No longer on a ship, Edward was now going to learn another way of life.  He was going to learn how to be a lighthouse keeper.

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No one had ever seen a live Buffalo, unless you had traveled out west.  If you asked the patrons at any one of the local taverns dotting every street corner, you would get just as many theories as there were incorrect answers.  What were two questions people newly arrived to the city of Buffalo asked?  Where are the Buffalo and how did this place get its name.  No one could say for sure.  Was it a corruption of the French word for “beautiful river”? Or was it named after the creek the first white people settled?  Maybe, but then where did the creek get its name?  No one bothered to ask the original settlers to the area, the Native Americans who had been living in western New York for several thousand years.  They had their own theories. They had named the place long before the first Europeans came to the area.  The raising of a hand to get the attention of the bar tender followed the question, which was always met with a shaking of the head, the shrugging of the shoulders and a slight laugh.  “Give us another beer and one for the newcomer”.  Thus, the question was laid to rest and never really answered, until asked again in another tavern on another street corner. 

By 1789, a small trading community had developed by the mouth of the Buffalo Creek.  This land was far to the west of the place called New York City.  New York City was not always known by this name, although its naming was not as mysterious as “Buffalo”.  Native Americans on the island of Manhattan first inhabited the place.   Then the Dutch arrived who renamed it New Amsterdam.  They established a colony in 1624.  The English arrived forty years later and in 1664 renamed the place New York City.  A thriving metropolis and trading center, New York City was home to the capitol of the newly independent United States of America until 1790.  For over one hundred years, the vast stretches of land from New York City to the Great Lake Erie remained wild and forbidden to the white Europeans.  The Niagara River connected the Great Lakes of Erie and Ontario.  There was only one problem with this river roadway.  The Niagara Falls tumbled down the middle of the river making accessibility an impossible task.  The only way to navigate the river was by portaging around the falls.  Trade, commerce and agriculture were severely limited to what could be carried along with a boat when trekking up and down the steep rock walls and embankments of the Niagara gorge.  For the white European settlers who did venture west of New York City, there was the problem of those annoying people who had first claimed rights to the area.  They did not take kindly to the newly arrived intruders.  It was easy to eliminate the wagons filled with women and children as they slowly made their way along the steep Niagara gorge.  Devils hole was the site of their massacre and the liberation from an invading unwelcome group for another people; the Native Americans.    

The British and the French were not on friendly terms making it all the more dangerous.  The Native Americans often found themselves in-between the two groups.  This made it more dangerous for them.  Sometimes, they took out their anger and frustration on the people who tried to live on the land, the white Europeans.  Even after the trading community grew, there were hazards beyond the dangers of the Native peoples.  After the War for Independence, there were the shifting borders between the former British colony and the place called Canada to the north of the lakes and the Niagara River.  Wars were still being fought less then forty years after the colony had gained its independence from Great Britain.  During the War of 1812 the village called Buffalo was burned. 

Yet, the place had potential if only it could be connected to the east coast.  An ambitious project was formulated and when finished, Buffalo eventually became the most important city west of its cousin, New York City.  When the building of the Erie Canal was completed in 1825, the place called Buffalo experienced an unprecedented growth in both population and commerce.  By 1840, fifteen years after the canal was completed and five years before Edward’s ancestors arrived, the population of Buffalo was 18,213 inhabitants.  Five years after Edward’s family arrived, Buffalo had grown to 42,261 inhabitants.  Rapid growth occurred over the next six decades; 1860, 81,129; 1870, 117,714; 1880,155134; 1890, 255,664; 1900, 352,387 and three years after Edward was assigned to the Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse, Buffalo’s population was 423,715 inhabitants.  When the 1910 census was recorded, Buffalo was the eighth largest city in the United States.  It was now a major railroad hub and the largest grain-milling center in the world.  The village first called Buffalo had transformed into an important city called Buffalo.  In addition to experiencing growth because of the Erie Canal, the city’s local mills benefited directly from the new hydroelectric power generated by the Niagara River.  Almost half a million people meant a busy port and harbor filled with ships, sailors and passengers.  There was a definite need for a lighthouse and lighthouse keepers.

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After the War for Independence was fought and won, the Americans began to populate the Great Lakes with ships in ever-increasing numbers.  Long before the Erie Canal was built, the Village of Buffalo was made a port of entry by an act of Congress.  On March 3, 1805 less then thirty years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, Buffalo was recognized as a potential future harbor.  Even though it was difficult to get from Buffalo to the larger city of New York, a distance of 395 miles by land, the village was an important junction between Lake Erie and the Niagara River.  The other Great Lakes were being settled and developed.   This meant that both river and lake traffic was increasing. There was soon a need for a lighthouse by the turn of the 19th century.  By 1811, the New York State lawmakers mandated a lighthouse be built at the Buffalo harbor in what was then Niagara County.  Later, the county boundaries were changed and Erie County was carved out of the already existing Niagara County.  The new county would contain the larger city of Buffalo.   Finding suitable land for the construction of the lighthouse was interrupted by the War of 1812.  When the British burned Buffalo in December of 1813, the building of a lighthouse was not on the list of first priorities for the village‘s inhabitants.  Four years later, a man named Oliver Forward, the collector of the port was finally commissioned to purchase land for a lighthouse at Buffalo.  Typical of the way lighthouses were dealt with before there was an organization called The United States Lighthouse Service Mr. Forward purchased the land.  He paid $351.50 using his own money to buy the property located at the mouth of the Buffalo Creek.  A thirty-foot stone tower was constructed by 1818.  Buffalo now had its first lighthouse. 

Modern 19th century ship technology was changing the construction of ships during the first half of the century, especially on the Great Lakes.  The same year the Buffalo Lighthouse was completed the first steamship sailed from Buffalo to Detroit.  Walk-On-the-Water was run aground one month later under the command of Captain Fish near Erie.  At this time, Buffalo’s harbor was little more then a sandy confluence at the mouth of the creek.  A new pier was privately built between the lake and the creek specifically for the use of the new steamboat.  A private lighthouse was also built for this steamboat.  It was the only steamboat on the Great Lakes by 1820 and one year later on October 31, 1821 the ship was beached by gale force winds during the night.  The crew and passengers all saved, were taken to the lighthouse for warmth and sustenance. 

With the growth of Buffalo after the opening of the new Erie Canal in 1825, pollution soon followed and this resulted in the need for another lighthouse.  The Buffalo Lighthouse was now deemed useless due to all the smoke from the village.  It was thought this pollution might have contributed to the wreck of the steamship, the Walk-In-the-Water.  A new lighthouse was to be built at the end of the stone pier.  One year after the Erie Canal opened the Treasury Department allotted $2,500 dollars for the construction of a new lighthouse.  It was slated to be completed by November of 1829.  Four years later the new lighthouse was finally built and completed sometime between 1832 and 1839.  It was considered the pride and joy of the people of Buffalo.  When the lighthouse was completed there were eleven steamboats operating out of the Buffalo Harbor.  The numbers of passengers sailing from the harbor had increased dramatically since the first steamboat the Walk-in-the-Water sailed the lake.  There were now recorded 42,956 passengers sailing west from Buffalo and 18,529-returned sailing east back to Buffalo.  This was six years before Edward’s family ventured across an ocean to settle in the lands called Western New York State.

One year before the Westphals arrived in America, the Great Storm of 1844 struck Buffalo.  The storm produced a violent gale that lasted for three days.  Then the storm did a 180-degree wind shift.  In addition to already damaging the lighthouse pier, the wind shift produced a giant wall of water.  The force of the water moved across the lower city stranding full ships on land and killing many of the inhabitants of the city.  There were so many dead; they had to be laid out in rows at the city hall and the courthouse.  Seven years before the terrible storm, a recommendation had been made for another lighthouse because the harbor was so congested.  Thirty-five years later, the treacherous waters of the Buffalo harbor would necessitate another addition to its conglomeration of lighthouses.  The United States Life Saving Service was established in 1871 and by 1877; the Buffalo Life Saving Station was built on lighthouse land to aid in the rescue of ships in distress.  The Life Saving Station was finalized in 1879 as the Life Boat Station No. 5 and was located near the Army Engineer’s boathouse. 

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Four years after the Westphal and Hermann families had established themselves in two small towns in Niagara County; Congress approved an appropriation for a lightship or lighthouse on Horseshoe Reef in Buffalo.   Commerce was growing and ships carrying lumber, grain and other goods were coming into the Buffalo harbor on their way to the docks at Black Rock.  There were dangerous reefs in these waters along with strong currents to lure floundering ships into the Niagara River.  Although the falls were located many miles downriver, these currents had the potential to pull a disabled ship into the more treacherous waters to drift toward the rapids and the falls.  Congress considered $10,000 enough to build a lightship and $20,000 enough to construct a lighthouse if after surveys were conducted that was more appropriate.  A month later the U.S. Navy Commander Abraham Bigelow recommended constructing a lighthouse.  However, based on his survey the cost would be twice the initial amount.  He felt it would cost $45,000 to build an offshore structure.  It would need to withstand the eleven-knot current that rushed through the narrows.  The actual site for the structure was located on Middle Reef and not the inshore Horseshoe Reef.  However, there was a greater problem facing the Department of the Treasury.  The site chosen was on the Canadian side of the international boundary that had been stipulated by the peace treaties following the War for Independence.  It had been reaffirmed in 1822 just seven years after the war of 1812. 

Stephen Pleasonton, the Fifth Auditor of the Department of the Treasury and the superintendent of American lighthouses recommended the Department of State contact the British government to build the lighthouse.  He was sure they would not agree to build a lighthouse since they declined a request for one in the Bahamas twenty years earlier.  The commerce of both Canada and the United States was growing and a lighthouse would benefit both countries.  The British were agreeable to the proposal.  The British realized they could avoid the expense of building the much-needed aid to navigation if they ceded a small part of the British Empire to the United States.  This way the Americans would be responsible for building the structure and for its funding. 

In London, the U.S. minister Abbott Lawrence sent a note to Viscount Palmerston, the Foreign Secretary.  He sent the request to Earl Grey, the Colonial Secretary.  He then asked Lord Elgin, the governor general to consult the provincia 1 government in Ontario.  Canadian commercial interests also supported the idea of a river lighthouse.  On April 23, the Executive ve Council of the Province of Canada, meeting in Toronto, approved the proposal. 

The decision went back up government channels.  On December 9, Palmerston and Lawrence met at the Foreign Office in London to sign the Protocol giving part of the reef to the United States.  There was one provision-the United States was not to erect any type of fortification and they must build an actual lighthouse for the Protocol to be binding.  After both governments satisfied all points of the agreement, the British gave the United States an acre of underwater reef, about one third of the entire Middle Reefs.  The distance was about 1,150 feet inside Canadian territory.  It was only thirty-six years after the Battle of Fort Erie where over one thousand soldiers lost their lives within the boundaries of the Canadian territory. 

After President Millard Fillmore approved the deal, Congress appropriated an extra $25,000 dollars on March 31, 1851 for the construction of the new lighthouse.  Congress also appointed a new board to take over the Lighthouse Service.  The new board named a three-man committee to review the construction proposal submitted by Isaac S. Smith.  Smith’s proposal was not deemed favorable, yet the committee awarded him the contract.  His design would never become a lighthouse.  There were many problems facing the construction.  In addition to weather problems, the reef was not solid rock.  This discovery and other problems resulted in Smith’s contract being canceled.  Finally, between 1855 and 1866 the government built a structure.  It hardly qualified as a “lighthouse”.  The foundation was made of stone.  Four iron columns or legs supported a square box.  The box made of wood, contained the sparse living quarters should weather conditions necessitate staying at the lighthouse.  On top of the wood box, a fourth order lens was affixed, flashing for the first time on September 1, 1856.  Ships ten miles out on the inland sea of Lake Erie could see the light.  Shortly after it was built, the structure was labeled the most unattractive lighthouse in the district.  Future artists and lithographers also found the structure esthetically unappealing.  Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse was never depicted when prints of the Buffalo harbor were made, even when it clearly could have been seen from the angle of the artist’s presentation. 

Two keepers were to be assigned lighthouse duty.  Since the lighthouse was not connected to land, the only way for the keepers to get there was by rowboat.  If they were lucky enough, one of several tugboats in the harbor would pull the rowboat out to the light.  Rowing out to the light mandated strong and capable arms for the current was extremely treacherous.  The light was also located in foreign territory, which complicated matters even more.  However, by 1908, one year after Edward began his duties at the Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse, a new treaty was formed. The treaty adjusted the boundary and then in 1913 an international commission moved Canada one hundred feet to the west of the Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse.  This act put both the lighthouse and the reefs within the United States.  By then, Edward had been assigned to another lighthouse in another state.
-Permission to reproduce the information on the
Horseshoe Reef courtesy of the Buffalo Lighthouse

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By the time Edward made the decision to enter the United States Lighthouse Service, the keeper’s position had evolved into a specialized and often times highly technical job.  The position required very different skills from those of the 19th century lighthouse keeper.  While each century produced its own set of problems maintaining the light, the 20th century technology was producing an entirely new way of giving light to reflect from the lenses.  A lighthouse keeper’s job had never been easy.  Now it was complicated by the increase in ship traffic and the number of lighthouses needed for safer coastlines and waters offshore. 

Recognizing the need for more life-saving personnel, and a more structured entity, in 1871, the government formed the United States Life Saving Service. Life Saving Stations had been in existence since 1848 when Congress approved $10,000 to purchase equipment for the purpose of saving lives when ships wrecked off the east coast.   They consisted of mostly untrained men who operated horse drawn carts and carried guns to shoot lines to ships in distress as well as flares and other necessary items needed to save lives.  By the time the Unites States Life Saving Service was formed, the need for a more specialized service had evolved into a group of highly trained men with a keeper in charge of the Life Saving Station.  Like the lighthouse keeper, the Life Saving Station keeper was also required to keep logs.  The stations had regular crews who practiced on a daily basis the maneuvers for life saving.  The equipment was also highly specialized, especially the boats used during rescues.  The crews lived at the Life Saving Station.  If they did not live at the station, they lived in very close proximity to it.  While 20th century lighthouse keepers did participate in rescues, (especially if the lighthouse was not near a Life Saving Station), the keepers and crews of the Life Saving Stations did not maintain the lighthouses. 

Although the lighthouses and the Life Saving Stations were different entities, they sometimes worked together if the two were in close proximity.  Depending on the location, some lighthouses were in the same complex as the Life Saving Stations.  This was often the case when they were located in the harbors of large cities.  Buffalo Life Saving Station was one such complex.  Lighthouses were either attached to some type of land or they were surrounded by water, some a great distance from the coastline.  The Life Saving Stations were always located on dry land, never being surrounded by water unless they were located on an island. 

If a keeper was assigned to a remote lighthouse and there was no Life Saving Station near the duties required much more life saving skills.  However, both services required keepers and crews be prepared for maritime disasters.  Saving lives was central to the entire operation, and the more quickly it was enacted the better the chances were for lives to be saved. 

By the time Edward entered the Lighthouse Service the path to becoming a keeper was no longer based on the favors and rewards system through political appointments.   This way of obtaining keepers had plagued the service with numerous incompetent keepers during the first century following the country’s independence.  Four years after Edward entered the Lighthouse Service, George R. Putnam was appointed head of the newly reorganized United States Lighthouse Service.  Under his direction and leadership, the service became a first rate organization.  

Lighthouse keepers did not attend a formal school specifically designated for the training of keepers.  Keepers in the 20th century followed several different paths to the lighthouse.  Many started out sailing on ships, either on the Great Lakes, the oceans, or both.  Other keepers got their start after enlisting in the United States Revenue Cutter Service or the Navy.   Many future keepers first served on lightships and tenders.  They were all seasoned and experienced individuals who received a solid navigation education by the time they were appointed to the Lighthouse Service.  An appointment to the Lighthouse Service was not guaranteed just based on an individual’s navigational experience.  The Lighthouse Board under the Department of the Treasury administered all lighthouses.  The country was organized into twelve districts.  Each district had a naval officer who was the inspector for the district.  By 1896, the lighthouse keepers became members of the Federal Civil Service. Individuals were required to take the Oath of Office, which was to be executed before a Notary Public and then complete the Personal Question Sheet.  The latter was to be “written and signed in their own hand.”  The newly appointed keeper was given a six-month probationary period, after which he was given an “absolute appointment”.  New keepers were assigned to a lighthouse first as an assistant keeper.  By 1910, the Lighthouse Board was once again reorganized and the name changed to the Bureau of Lights.  The qualifications for lighthouse keeper appointments stayed the same. 

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MAY 1907 U.S.L.H.S

Edward’s appointment to the Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse was both advantageous and somewhat of a disappointment.  The reputation of the ugly and dangerous lighthouse was well known.  It offered challenges some of the other lighthouses he could have been assigned did not.  It was also located in a foreign country and no other American lighthouse could boast that dubious distinction.  The place was fairly close to his home in Tonawanda and family.  The pay was better then the Revenue Cutter Service, if only by ten dollars per year.  He also was in love with Margaret and hoped she would marry him.  He had not pursued the other woman in his life, Cass.  The newly appointed Edward M. Herman (n) reported for duty on May 11, 1907 at age, twenty-nine, and began the next phase of his education, learning the duties of the lighthouse keeper. 

Margaret was no longer living in Detroit.  Her life had been difficult ever since the death of her mother in 1905.  The next year was even more devastating for her when she faced the deaths of her two brothers, Thomas and Samuel.  They left behind a child and wives who needed support and care.  The correspondence is lacking between Edward and Margaret for three years.  Five months after he began his lighthouse duties, Edward sent a brief postcard to Margaret.  He tells her he will write soon and asks how she is doing and wants to know how things are going in Hudson.  Whether Edward was reestablishing a relationship or maintaining an ongoing love interest, there is little doubt he had decided Margaret was the woman he wanted to marry.  The Lighthouse Service preferred their keepers married.  It was thought the men were much more reliable if they had a wife and family to maintain. 

There was also another benefit to being married; it was the “package deal”.  Package deals were not limited to the Lighthouse Service.  Many other professions had looked at women as the appendage to their husband’s careers.  Indeed, even women had seen themselves as an extension of their husband’s careers.  With few employment opportunities open to them because they were considered for men only, and even fewer opportunities after marriage, this was the only way for many women to have a “job”.   Numerous professions would not have been able to exist if it were not for the women who held up the other half of the “business”.  The “package deal” was important for farmers, ministers, lighthouse keepers, and corporate businessmen, to name a few.  The wife was often the silent part of the package, never getting the recognition of contributing to her husband’s career, or advancing his position in society.  The Lighthouse Service was all too aware of the contributions women had made, whether they served alongside their husbands or as keepers in their own right.  If it were not for the wife, (and in some cases the children) many lighthouses and ships in distress would have much different stories to tell a later generation.  There was one problem facing Edward‘s future marriage intentions.  He and Margaret did not have a place to live.  The new keeper’s residence was not yet built.  Because of circumstances beyond his control, Margaret’s place in his life would have to wait.  For now, he was busy learning and there was a lot to learn.

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The first rule Edward had to learn; the Lighthouse Service was serious business.  It was a no nonsense organization that had evolved from a loose contingent of lights and keepers to a highly structured and organized government institution.  By 1907, it was a “tightly run ship”.  There was no room for error or insubordination.  Light Keepers, their official title, were expected to maintain constant and faithful attention to their duties.  It was the duty of all officers and employees connected with the Lighthouse Service to “further the interests of the service in every possible way”.  Personal character was of the utmost importance.  All employees of the Lighthouse Service were required to “show in themselves a good example of virtue, honor, patriotism, and subordination and to exact similar conduct from persons placed under their jurisdiction”.  It is interesting to note how one should behave in a patriotic manor was never specifically addressed.  It was a loosely defined gray area, which would give some keepers difficulty.  At times, the service admonished certain light keepers for their expressed political opinions and at other times, they encouraged them to display their patriotic devotion by purchasing Liberty Bonds to support the war efforts.  Since many of the keepers came from a military background, virtue, honor and subordination would have been self-evident.  The keepers were expected to have a familiarity with the apparatus and they were required to maintain the reservations with “efficiency and cleanliness”.  As in the military, “All persons in the Lighthouse Service were required to obey readily and strictly, and to execute with promptitude and zeal the lawful orders of their superiors.  They shall show to their superiors proper deference and respect”.  Not adhering to this mandate meant a recommendation for dismissal.  There were no exceptions to this requirement. 

The Instructions To Light Keepers booklet was compiled by the Bureau of Lighthouses. The first section gave general instructions to all personnel of vessels and reservations belonging to the Lighthouse Service.  The instructions included every detail from how to paint and putty cracks to the storage of fuel.  Nothing was left to the imagination of anyone serving in any capacity either on a vessel or at a lighthouse.  The second section addressed the duties of the light keeper.  By the last half of the first decade, the terms for the lighthouse keeper reflected the specialized nature of their positions.  They were no longer officially referred to as “lighthouse keepers”.  Instead, they were given the title "Light Keeper". Given the highly specialized nature of their duties, and the fact that many of them came from the military, under the qualifications of keepers, the requirements listed were surprisingly brief and simple.  “Keepers and assistants must be able to read and write, and in every aspect competent to discharge the duties of keeper”.  For whatever reason, math, science, and some knowledge of medical practices were not an absolute requirement, yet in many cases, they were necessary for the discharge of their duties. 

Light keepers were allowed, when practical thirty days leave of absence.  However, they were required to furnish a competent substitute who was satisfactory to the inspector.  In addition, the keepers were expected to arrange for the pay and subsistence of the substitute and they were responsible for paying the salary, at “their own expense”.  Many light keepers never took the full leave of absence due them.  In some cases, locating a competent individual to take over the duties would prove difficult, unless you had a wife who knew how to operate the light.  Paying someone a full month’s salary was not an option.  The majority of keepers had families.  A vacation was not a luxury many could afford to take advantage of when you were a light keeper.  It seems an unfair burden to place on individuals who spent long hours in isolation often under dangerous conditions and dealing with life and death situations.  Fortitude and inner strength were necessary requirements for light keepers; apparently, an unwritten rule never specifically addressed in the official government publications. 

The light stations as they were now officially called were to be kept clean and well maintained.  This meant the stations needed to be whitewashed on a regular basis and in a specific order.  First, the grounds were to be kept in good order.  Then, all the inside painted work of the lantern kept well washed and when required they must be retouched with paint.  The “spare articles embraced in the list of allowances must be kept on hand and examined frequently. And should be kept clean and in order for use”.  Much of the terminology and rules governing the discharging of duties reflect those of the Revenue Cutter Service or the Navy and the care of ships at sea.  It is no wonder keepers were often referred to as ‘captains” of the light stations, an unofficial, yet appropriate title. 

Another unwritten rule for light keepers was keeping a thrifty nature.  They were allowed by law only one ration per day for sustenance.  If they so chose, cash could be substituted at 30 cents per ration.  There was no provision made for the rations of food to be provided for the keeper’s family, many of whom worked unpaid alongside their spouses.  The rules for food rations applied across the board for all the light stations.  When a light station was located on a government reservation (the term used to designate the land or complex housing the structures) with land suitable for gardens and fruit trees, keepers could supplement their rations.  It was more difficult when the light station was located in an urban setting or on land not suitable for gardens.  When bad weather prevailed keepers and their families were sometimes stranded for days and weeks waiting for supplies to be delivered.  Some would report they were down to their last parcel of food and feared starvation.  When Edward worked at the Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse, he had to rely on the local market for fresh fruits and vegetables.  Marblehead Lighthouse was located on land suitable for gardens and fruit trees.  Yet, thriftiness would always prevail among the keepers.  Family stories recount Margaret being offered tea when visiting family in Tonawanda years after Edward had retired.  Two tea bags were served with two cups of hot water.  Margaret was observed dunking one tea bag first into Edward’s cup and then using the same tea bag for her cup.  The second tea bag was not used.  Old habits even after they no longer served a useful purpose apparently were difficult to break. 

Edward had to learn how to keep the books and records necessary for the running of the light station.  There were four important record books.  All books were to be kept in ink, up to date and as part of the official records of the station. 

Journal- “ This shall be a complete record of the important events at the stations having resident keepers, including weather, work in progress, officials visiting the station, visibility of adjacent lights and gas buoys, absences of light keepers and any irregularity in working of equipment or appliances at the station or noticed in that of other stations.  Use as much space on the page as necessary to record important events and occurrences for each day.”

Expenditure book- “A record of expenditures will be kept at all stations having resident keepers.  This may be kept in rough in copy of Form 30 or in a blank memorandum book as may be preferred.”

Watch book- “This book shall be kept at stations having assistant keepers.  In this record shall be entered the working condition of the light and fog signal at the station and the time of starting and stopping each of them.  The time of going on and leaving watch must be entered in this book, and the book must be signed by the person standing the watch immediately upon coming off watch.”

Fog-signal record book- “This book shall be kept at all stations having fog signals.  It shall be kept in accordance with the printed instructions in front of book.”

The keepers were admonished to make no erasure, alterations or additions in any official records.  If they were made it was only to be done by the (head) keeper, who must initial any changes and add a note of explanation.  There were not to be any entries or signatures made in the record books except by light keepers or officials of the Lighthouse Service. 

In addition to the log books, Edward was required to learn how to fill out and submit reports and returns.  There were numerous reports that were to be submitted on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.  Then there were the reports to be submitted as conditions occurred.

Monthly- “Report of condition of station.
Report of fog signal.”

Quarterly- “Report of principal supplies at station.”

Annual- “Property return.
Requisition for supplies.
Receipt for annual supplies.
Survey of public property.”

When occurring- “Report of damage or loss of Government property.
Receipts for special supplies, materials, equipment, etc.
Receipts for transfer of property.
Life saving or aid extended to persons in distress.
Misconduct or inefficiency of subordinates.
Irregularity in working of aids to navigation.
Unusual occurrences.”

“ Monthly or special reports on the condition of station, when recommending repairs or alterations, shall be explicit as to measurements, estimates of material, cost, and all other necessary details.”

“Special reports of damage to lens or signal, machinery, or appurtenances, shall give cause, parts damaged, and detailed information to expedite renewal of same.”

Other duties outlined in the instruction manual included learning the workings of the “clock mechanism” the device used for rotation.  The care and maintenance of the lenses and the equipment needed to insure it remained in good working order was very involved.  The manual consisted of 168 pages of detailed instruction for keepers and personnel working on the government reservations and lightships and tenders.  When these duties and instructions were carried out and completed, the keeper still had to stand watch and if necessary perform rescues.

There were also medical instructions for administering care to rescued persons, which needed to be learned.  The instruction manual written by the Surgeon General and published in 1912 was extremely detailed.  It was titled, “Medical Handbook for the Use of LIGHTHOUSE VESSELS AND STATIONS, 1912”.  More then a simple handbook, the manual contained forty chapters and seventy pages of detailed instructions.  The chapters were: Medicines and articles to be supplied for medicine chests;  Sanitation; Poison and antidotes; Use of clinical thermometer; Malarial fever; Measles; Mumps; Smallpox; Dysentery; Sunstroke; Diarrhea; Cholera morbus; Colic; Scurvy; Sore Throat; Coughs and colds; Erysipelas; Poison ivy; Rheumatism; Fainting; Delirium tremens; Appendicitis; Syphilis; Soft chancre; Gonorrhea; Stricture; Boils; Piles; Injuries-Hemorrhage; Wounds; Burns or scalds; Effects of cold-Frostbite; Scalp wounds; Injuries to the chest; Injuries to the back; Fractures; Dislocations; Sprains; Nosebleeds; Drowning. 

Written for light vessels and lighthouse keepers, the chapters provided instructions for the care and administration of medical procedures.  For keepers who were not required to have extensive medical training or medical degrees, the abilities expected of them were consistent with a physician.  Keepers who served at light stations with access to medical doctors were less likely to have to perform intricate medical procedures.  However, those keepers who served at light stations isolated and far from a medical doctor or hospital, were often the only trained medical personnel for many miles.  Their ability to diagnose diseases, assess medical conditions and perform intricate medical procedures often meant the difference between life and death for those whom they rescued.  Edward’s first year at the Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse was a very full and busy learning experience.  Marrying Margaret may not have been a high priority for the new assistant keeper.  It may also explain the lack of correspondence from Edward between the years 1907 and 1909.

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The pier down the beach was long.  It contained many structures in addition to the Buffalo Life Saving Station.  There were grain elevators, lumber loading facilities, shops, stores, and factories.  A busy and complex neighborhood filled the area known as “The Beach”.  The Beach was the location of the government housing.  At least eleven men who listed their occupations as lighthouse keepers, surf men, or affiliated with the coast guard station, along with their families were recorded in the April 1910 census as living on the Beach in allotted government housing.  The census also reflects the many diverse occupations of individuals living within the area.  There were storekeepers, electricians, carpenters, grain elevator operators, telephone operators, barrel makers, steamboat captains, railroad workers, flagmen, hospital nurses, engineers, city firemen, and laborers in mills, and on the coal docks.  There were also grim reminders of the disasters Lake Erie was capable of producing as several listed their occupations as undertakers.  For the sailors and workers who needed relaxation or a way to forget the conditions of their lives several bar tenders and saloon workers were recorded as living near the beach. 

It was to this busy place Edward would eventually bring Margaret.  His postcard to Margaret in 1907 was a picture of the Buffalo harbor.  It may have been the first time she saw Buffalo.  Certainly, her life situation did not preclude immediate marriage plans.  This coupled with the busy first year Edward was having made planning a wedding difficult.  How their relationship ensued over the following year is not known.  Yet, some time during his first year at the Buffalo Light Station, Edward formally proposed marriage and Margaret accepted.  Edward’s marriage to Margaret would have to wait until the close of the 1907 navigational season.  By then the keeper’s residence was built and Margaret and Edward would have a place to live. 

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Lake Erie had a reputation for danger.  Violent storms could manifest themselves in a matter of minutes, producing gale force winds and rough seas.  Hurricane winds lashed ships about like toys in a child’s pool sending them scampering up the shore to nestle about on dry land.  Some ships had set sail in the calmest of waters, only to be sunk within minutes of encountering a Lake Erie storm.  In some cases, the ship disappeared with no traces of humans or vessel.  The only indication of trouble was when the vessel failed to reach its destination. 

Then there was ice.  Because the lake was relatively shallow, it froze early in the winter.  The spring produced strong ice flows that jammed the shores and blocked the river entrances.  Pile after pile of ice with a force so strong whole docks were swept away would slowly move with the lake currents.  Navigation was tricky in the fall.  Ships took their chances, trying to sail with heavy cargoes hoping to make one last run before being ice locked.  Sometimes if they were lucky, they made the last run safely returning to home port.  If they miscalculated, disaster and sometimes death occurred.  More then one ship making a last run would find it locked in a sea of ice.  Frozen in time with nowhere to go, the ship remained until the spring thaws set it free.  There were times when crews faced the icy winds and frozen water sprays trapped and hoping for a rescue to warmth and dry land.  Frostbite and hypothermia were an ever- present danger.  It was no different for the light station keeper. 

Once again, Edward’s charmed life would prevent him from disaster.  This time it was not aboard a ship, but a Lake Erie storm.  The winter of 1907 was brutal, for not only the United States, but also the world.  The New York Times reported major snowstorms and blizzards throughout Europe and in Russia.  There were also earthquakes in Italy in addition to frozen canals in Venice, and the snow and icy conditions, which plagued most of the country that year.  Russia, a place accustomed to snowy winters was reported to have major blizzards and dangerous stormy weather.

 In this country, a young girl’s diary written in Minnesota told of the freezing cold temperatures beginning in the month of January.  By the middle of January, the temperatures in her state had reached minus twenty-four degrees.  She also wrote about another storm, this one was located many miles away, on a different lake, Erie.  So ferocious was this storm, she recorded the events on the pages of her diary that January day.  On January 20, 1907, gale force winds swept Lake Erie.  The winds were clocked in access of eighty-four miles per hour.  For twenty-four hours, the winds whipped the inland sea into a frothy mix of foam and spray.  When the storm had finished spewing its contents over the Niagara Frontier, it ended, retreating to the icy waters from which it had sprung.  In its wake, the storm left the Buffalo harbor and port with a million dollars in damage.  The beach of the Life Saving Station was littered with debris and stranded ships.  Two huge lake ships, the Hurlburt W. Smith and the William Nottingham were stranded on the sandy shores.  In the process, the Nottingham smashed into the hull of the Smith, sustaining major damage.  Three people died in the collapse of buildings and one life was lost when drowned in the angry lake storm.  Several days later, the New York Times reported power had been restored to the city and the electric trolleys were once again running.  Three months later, Edward Herman (n) reported for duty at the Horseshoe Reef Light Station.  One year later his new wife would send a postcard to Hudson, Michigan describing the place Edward and she now lived.  The picture on the card was the beach, strewn with debris and ships after the mighty storm of January 20, 1907.

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Edward had survived his first season as an assistant lighthouse keeper.  Now, he was going to get married.  Margaret was beautiful, cultured, independent and intelligent.  She had lived by herself in a large city; she had a career and possessed a deep and strong religious faith.  He had been raised in the German Lutheran traditions, she had been raised a Methodist.  Margaret was still in mourning dress with the recent deaths of her mother and two brothers.  Yet, life was moving ahead and they were not getting any younger. Edward was twenty-nine and Margaret was thirty-one at the close of 1907.  Being a lighthouse keeper was the fulfillment of an ambition that had taken Edward from the Great Lakes ships to the Revenue Cutter Service and now finally, to the lighthouse.  The next step was marriage.  His sister Esther had married Otto Zastrow, a German carpenter on October 6, 1903.  His other sister, Mathilda was to be married to Hugo Dornfeld, an accountant at the bank, in August of 1908.  Now it was his turn to reap the rewards of a captured heart, one that had loved her for so many years. 

Three days into the New Year, Edward received an unexpected letter.  It was from his old friend Staley Landrey.  He was promoted to Captain and sailing the Lot. M. Morrill, Edward‘s old Revenue Cutter ship.  The letter informed Edward the position of Master-At-Arms was opening up and the Captain was offering him the position, with a pay increase.  Edward’s answer does not survive in written form.  Although a meaningful gesture and one not to be taken lightly, his mind was already made up which direction his life was to take.  When the navigational season of 1907 closed, Edward would be traveling to Hudson, Michigan.

On January 14, 1908, Edward M. Herman (n), dressed in a fine suit and starched white shirt married the beautiful Margaret King.  Her wedding attire would not be the expensive, fancy white dresses and elaborate veils her future sisters-in-law would wear on their wedding day.  Instead, Margaret was dressed in simple black mourning dress, her only jewelry, a jet necklace.   Each revealed in their wedding photograph, a slight smile, barely perceptible.  Just visible enough to know that despite the tragedies of the previous years, they had full filled a destiny.  On this particular day, after a long journey, they were finally joined together in holy matrimony.  They were now husband and wife.  Buffalo was about to meet Margaret.  

The trip back to Buffalo was uneventful.  The next month record-breaking snowfalls blanketed much of the mid-west.  Bleak, icy and dreary weather greeted their return.  Margaret’s first order of business as a newly wed was to send two postcards to Hudson.  To Claire, she pointed out the pier, which “runs right to the house” only now it was “all covered in snow and ice”.  The tender Crocus was docked alongside the pier and Edward’s lighthouse she writes is “beyond the little crosses”.  The second postcard was to C.E. Sheridan.  The beach on the postcard was strewn with debris as a result of the previous year’s storm.  The picture was “just down the beach from our house”, Margaret writes to her brother-in-law. Margaret was soon to experience the reality of the Buffalo harbor and the life of someone married to a lighthouse keeper.  In January of 1908 a tremendous ice jam occurred, Edward recounted to the Sandusky Register some fifty-six years later.  The men kept a twelve-hour watch with relief coming by boat at midnight and noon.  That month the ice was so bad he was stranded at the Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse for four days.  Apparently, Edward forgot to mention to the reporter he had only been married for several weeks and that his wife was stranded in a new city in a new home without her husband.  Perhaps she began to wonder what it was she had gotten herself into so soon after her marriage.  Perhaps, life on a farm in rural Hudson, Michigan did not seem quite so unappealing after all.  Perhaps, it was just a fleeting thought a new wife might have on a bleak, cold mid January day while stranded at the lighthouse keeper’s residence without a husband.

Life on the pier was not a picture of robust healthy air and blue skies.  This was the city.  It was inhabited by almost half a million people and contained the factories of an industrial polluting, major shipping port and harbor.  Pastoral scenes of long skirted ladies causally walking down the pier to greet their men returning from sailing the inland seas were only evident in the imaginations of painters and postcards.  The reality was very different.  The Buffalo Life Saving Station was smack dab in the middle of the port and the harbor.  Pollution from the coal burning ships passing in and out of the harbor and the industrial waste from the factories made the air dark and dank.  When the clouds covered the sky allowing little room for the escaping smoke to wind its way past the dense puff of cloud wall, it seemed especially dark.  Fires from the wood burning stoves lit from morning to morning built with an intense heat to ward off the dampness and cold filled the skies with either coal or wood burning smoke.  Electric trolleys moved large numbers of people from one place to another, but they did not yet replace horse drawn carriages and carts.  City workers eventually cleaned up the ever-present droppings left behind by the horses still used to haul the cargo and drivers.  However, it was not always a prompt service, especially one that was extended to the working class areas of the city.  And, the pier was considered one such place. 

When the Life Saving Station keeper recorded the weather conditions, he frequently mentioned the atmosphere in addition to being cloudy, rainy, and foggy, as “smoky”.  The smoky atmosphere was enough to make watches difficult.  It had been one of the reasons in another century; a new, taller lighthouse had been constructed.  Not much had changed between the two centuries, except a new generation of light keepers and Life Saving crews. 

The end of January through March was fairly quiet at the Buffalo Life Saving Station.  The weather was as usual, mostly cloudy and either snowy or rainy.  The most eventful arrival was that of a new fire extinguisher at the end of January.  By the month of April, the Station was once again gearing up for the opening of the navigational season.  The keeper reported crews were practicing the drills and painting the 34-foot lifeboat.  They also had been practicing with the new powerboat.  Soon they were incorporating flag signal practicing.  Most likely, he was referring to the Wig-Wag signals.  Keeper Edward maintained a record of the Wig-Wag signals in the back of his day book. The 1905 muster rolls for the Morrill recorded one of the promotions Edward received was to Signal Quarter Master. He probably wrote them in his book at this time.  It was also possible the Life Saving Station and the lighthouse keepers communicated with each other using the flags.  The Wig-Wag system was a method of using the alphabet to spell out messages.  All letters consisted of a combination of 1’s and 2’s.  Using this method, Life Savers, and Light Keepers could spell out messages quickly and communicate quite a distance.  The flags were colored, one white and one red.  They were mounted on a six-foot wooden pole.

A     22  
B 2112
C   121
D   222
E     12 
F  2221
G  2211
H  122
I      1
J 1122
K 2121
L    221
M 1221
N     11
O     21
P 1212
Q 1211
R   211
S   212
T       2
U  112
V 1222
W 1121
X  2122
Y    111
Z  2222

The crew continued training throughout the spring and  worked on the 34-foot rescue boat along with the beach apparatus.  Now, almost into the month of May, the keeper reported at the end of April the atmosphere conditions were still smoky! Finally, the weather began to change with the onset of May.  As May warmed both water and harbor, the skies were no longer consumed by the smoky haze of April.  Taking advantage of the opening channels and ice flows, the log books recorded fifteen steamers and eight barges in tow for one May day.  Those numbers would gradually increase until peaking in the mid summer months.  May was also a month for receiving new supplies for the busy navigational season.  Every item necessary for the smooth running of a complex operation was noted in the log books, including coffee, table cloths, motor oil, turpentine, fog horn, brass, polish, 334 cakes of soap, 12 slats of pencils, varnish, 20 gallons of motor oil and a host of other items. 

Toward the end of May, ship traffic had increased to roughly twenty-two steamers passing through the harbor per day.  The end of May also marked the beginning of the many disasters both the crews of the Life Saving Station and the lighthouse keepers would soon face. Although they were prepared to deal with disaster on a daily basis, the increased numbers in ship traffic and human population made the nature and severity of each rescue an uncertain variable.  Some would be remembered years after the harbor had consumed both ship and sailor.  Some were so horrific they would be difficult to record in the log books.  Before the end of spring and shortly after the official opening of the Life Saving Station, the first reported drowning occurred.  The station received a telephone message from the police station that a young boy had drowned.  There was no need to carry out the maneuvers they had practiced over the spring.  Not a rescue operation, it was now a retrieval operation.  Many times the keepers and crew would get out the grappling hooks instead of the Lyle gun or breeches buoy.  The task of locating a drowned person fell to the men who stood watch at the Life Saving Station lookouts and the decks of the lighthouses.  These men trained on a daily basis the skills necessary to save lives first.  It was a grim reminder that their jobs were often not so heroic. 

Sculling was also a regular pastime on the river and lake waters.  The next opportunity to put their readiness into actions came with the rescue of a lone man in a capsized skull boat.  The summer had not begun, yet spring it seemed was already painting a picture of a busy season for the Buffalo Life Saving Station complex. 

There were days when the tragedies seemed to never end.  The strength of conviction must have been an immense quality for some to possess.  Certainly, the crews and the lighthouse keepers went beyond the average human capacity for surviving dangerous and difficult situations.  Only emergency medical doctors and personnel, firefighters and policemen could lay claim to the same.  Not until faced with going into battle would the average man or woman taste the same displeasing circumstances.  Sometimes the log books would record a member of the Life Saving Station crew left mid-way into the season.  Some stated their intentions, others simply disappeared, finally being reported as missing and then deserted from their post.  With the constant daily grind of rescues often resulting in tragic endings, it is no mystery why they left.

 One such day toward the end of June would test even the most seasoned keeper, crew and lighthouse keepers of the Buffalo harbor.  The keeper received a telephone message from police station number one.  A man had been reported drowned in the canal.  For the crew this was the start of a normal day, however, it would not end that way.  They put together the necessary equipment along with the grapple hook.  Off to the canal they went and proceeded to search for the dead man.  When they had accomplished the task, the crew headed back to the station.  Once back, they barely had time to rest when there was a report of a capsized racing skull.  The crew went out, this time to retrieve and rescue an individual before he drowned.  Successfully completing the task, they headed back to the station.  At 11:00 p.m., the lookout reported to the station there was a launch in trouble. Now under the darkness of night, the crew left the station fully equipped for a major rescue operation.  There was also the possibility it could turn into a retrieval operation.  When the crew reached the sight of the disaster, they discovered a large boat floundering in the water.  There were people on board who needed to be rescued from the distressed launch. After they had been removed from the floundering ship and transported back to the Life Saving Station the crew still had work to do.  Leaving a ship in the water could spell disaster for an approaching ship unsuspecting of another vessel in its pathway.  An already exhausted crew turned back to finish the job.  The launch still needed to be towed to safety.  The events of that day were too long to record on the one page.  The keeper had to attach a separate piece of paper to continue the record.  The time the keeper and crew finally were able to return to the station and the warmth of their beds was not recorded in the log book.

By the end of June, the crew had grappled for at least two other bodies.  On one of those days, the crew had the grisly task of grappling for a man who had disappeared in January of 1908 while walking down the pier.  Now someone reported seeing the body. 

July brought another round of tragedies.  The keeper reported the difficulty the lookout had seeing people who fell off the long pier, a problem that seemed to occur with much regularity.  By the end of July, the harbor was up to at least thirty-nine steamers per day.  The Women’s National Relief Association brought more clothing for the station to provide rescued, wet people.  These would soon be needed when the keeper received a report to rescue a man who had fallen overboard on the steamer Ossifrage.  Then, in another reported incident, a steamer collided with a small boat.  There was no need for a rescue, just a grappling hook as the month of July ended.

The harbor traffic was reaching its peak with at least sixty-eight steamers passing through on a daily basis during the month of August.  The crew only had to grapple for bodies once in mid August.  Unfortunately, this time they were not successful. 

September was another busy month, for both lighthouse keepers and Life Saving Station crews.  A boat capsized and the owner managed to get to the lighthouse landing.  The Station crew bailed out the boat and the owner sailed back to the clubhouse.  No doubt, a good story told over drinks!  Another incident required the full crew when the steamer Matthew Wilson became stranded three-fourths of mile northwest of the Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse.  After several unsuccessful attempts by a tugboat to free the steamer the Life Saving crew were called out.  Using their powerboat the Life Saving crew managed to do what the tugboat could not accomplish.  They eventually freed the stranded ship. 

Fall was now providing the complex some needed relief.  October reports indicated fewer steamers passing through the harbor.  Only eleven steamers per day were noted on one report.  There were no major incidences to fill the logbook for this month.

Not every rescue involved steamers, people falling overboard or capsizing racing boats.  Buffalo had a border to a foreign country.  Canada was to the north and had been a refuge for runaway slaves on the underground railway during the 19th century.  Now Canada was the stopping point for another runaway.  These runaways were not slaves.  And, they were not going into Canada; they were coming into the United States.  They were illegal aliens and they were Chinese.  There was profit in human smuggling.  However, there was also danger and its accomplice, tragedy.  Sometimes the tragedy resulted in the loss of life, usually to the smuggled, rarely to the smuggler. 

By November of 1908, the weather had turned chilly.  The air was crisp and smelled of the winter, which was soon to be making its annual trek from the northern latitudes of Canada.  This November however, something else was making its way down from Canada, a boatload of Chinese.  They were not an invited guest to the country they were trying to enter.  The lake water was cold.  Not the icy frozen water of the winter months, but cold enough to make a person shiver in less then a minute after falling into the choppy lake.  No one saw the boat carrying ten “chinamen”.  It was silently slicing through the cold water approaching the outer break wall.  The smugglers had done this before and they knew the routine well.  Maneuver the boat close to the break wall and then follow it until reaching the shore.  By doing it this way, the men of the Life Saving Station lookout and the lighthouse keepers would not be able to see them.  At first, the operation went as planned.  Then something went terribly wrong.  The boat began to flounder, possibly hitting part of the break wall or one of the rocks beneath the surface.  Though this may have been their downfall, it may also have been their salvation.  The boat capsized spilling the men into the frigid November water.  The smugglers, three white men and six of the ten Chinese men escaped to the break wall.  Four of the Chinese drowned, leaving no doubt, widows and children behind to starve.  The commotion of the men alerted the keepers and the lookout, which brought once again the crew of the Life Saving Station to the rescue.  The police were telephoned and the smugglers turned over to the law.  The Life Saving Station provided the Chinese with dry, warm clothing.  The crew then had the grim task of launching their boat to search the waters for the bodies of the other Chinese men. 

If October had been a relatively quiet month, November was going to make its mark on the calendar for that year.  By the fourteenth of the month, rain was turning into snow.  The temperatures were beginning to plummet; a good indication that fall was disappearing into winter early.  Yet, there were still steamers trying to make that last run and the harbor was averaging around seventeen a day.  There were at least three tugs still working the channels and the harbor.  The keeper noted the weather conditions for November 14; it was snowing.  The day started out quietly with just the occasional breeze providing a backdrop for the gentle snowflakes that covered the station windows.  Then suddenly, the sound of boats colliding echoed over the harbor breaking the eerie silence of the snow falling outside the station.   The sound was bone crushing loud.  The men inside the station felt the collision, and knew it meant serious trouble.  When they rushed outside the scene took them by surprise.  A steamer had collided with a police boat and it was literally at their doorstep.  This time the crew of the Life Saving Station did not have far to go and fortunately for those on board the two boats, no one lost their lives that day.  

The following day the weather along with lake conditions deteriorated beyond the season’s early snow of the previous day.  A gentle breeze had become a stiff wind across the harbor. Lake water was choppy and the spray was turning to ice, immediately coating the surface of anything it touched.  For the Life Saving crew it would not bode well if there was a floundering ship.  The temperatures were numbing, even for the experienced sailor and combined with the whitecaps of the waves as they sloshed over the break wall, frostbite and hypothermia were a real danger.  Then came the call, a ship was in distress.  The crew raced to assemble the equipment and launch the powerboat.  Time was of the essence for fear of the deteriorating weather conditions and a floundering ship.  Normally it would have taken the crew only minutes to reach the ship in most weather conditions, now it seemed an endless effort.  The motor on the rescue boat repeatedly iced over causing the boat to lose power.  When they finally succeeded in reaching the boat, the rescue attempt was made all the more difficult because of the icy conditions.  The keeper later recorded the crew had trouble standing up for all the ice that covered both boats.  A warm fire and a ration of coffee in the station was a welcome relief for a very cold crew upon their return.

The month of November was not to go quietly into December.  There would be one more operation for the crew.  Only, this time it was retrieval with the grappling hook for the body of a twenty-six year old man.  With the last operation in November finished, the calendar on the wall of the station was changed to December.  Soon the station would close for the navigational season.  The crew would then be free from the assault of the lake and her penchant for tragedies.  Their anticipation for a new month to begin was short lived.  Little did they know the lake was not yet through with them. December was about to record an even worse tragedy then the previous month of November. 

December’s lake water was cold as the devil was warm.  The winds were calm, but occasionally a good stiff breeze churned up the inland sea so that chunks of ice whirled around and around with each passing wave.  The crew was finishing the necessary duties for closing up the station.  The middle of December was closing in fast, spelling the end to the navigational season for the next four or five months.  There was little traffic this time of year in the harbor.  Yet, a tug still working, was pulling the steamer Yale up the harbor.  There was another steamer passing by going out of the harbor.  It would never make the intended destination.  Suddenly the Yale took a shear to the side.  The tug tried to keep her clear of the passing steamer.  The move was not successful and the Yale stove a hole.  The tug made another move to keep the Yale from hitting the second steamer again.  The maneuver did not work and she listed to the side, taking in copious amounts of the icy lake water.  Four of her crew escaped, but the fireman, (Fritz Stiller) on board was trapped beneath the deck and drowned.  The four who were left, found the Life Saving crew a welcome rescue from the near freezing Lake Erie.  Retrieving the drowned man was the last task facing the crew before ice filled the harbor.  The Life Saving Station closed on December 17.  The crew were now finished with the harbor and lake tragedies.  It was a welcome end to the 1908 navigational season. (To learn more about this accident read the article; "Buffalo Harbor and the Story That Took 104 Years to Unfold: A Tale of Two Yales"; 2012 July/August issue, Lighthouse Digest Magazine.) 

Edward and Margaret had spent their first year of marriage surrounded by the ever-present dangers and turmoil within the complex of the Buffalo Life Saving Station.  They had survived one of the busiest navigational seasons for the harbor and Lake Erie. Margaret and Edward were no doubt looking forward to the closing of the season.  The year 1909 was soon to enter the calendars of everyone.  For Keeper Herman (n) and Margaret it would bring new changes to their Tonawanda family.

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Nine days into the New Year the world was greeted with the news Ernest Shackleton had reached 88 degrees 23 south.  Seven days later, they learned he had reached the magnetic South Pole.  Technology was once again changing the world and the future for lighthouse keepers.  On January 23, the first radio rescue at sea occurred.  This event would eventually influence an entire military and the Lighthouse Service.  The world was now entering the ninth year in the first decade of the 20th century.  Those first years had changed life beyond the wildest of imaginations.  There were telephones, moving pictures and soon to be moving colored pictures.  The advances in technology offered supreme comforts to people and slid the United States into a forever-changed world.  On March 4, the Americans greeted a new President.  During a ten-inch snowstorm, Taft became the 27th President of the United States.  One month later the Americans, Robert Peary and Matthew Henson reached the North Pole.  The summer was witness to the first commercial airplane sold by Glenn Curtiss, the testing of the first U.S. Army plane by Orville Wright, the first delivery of the plane to the newly formed Army Air Corp and the first SOS used by an American ship off Cape Hatteras.  Fourteen days into the New Year Edward and Margaret began their second year of marriage.  Yes, it was going to be a good year for everyone.  The deaths of Margaret’s mother and brothers were slowly fading into the past.  Margaret was experiencing the life of being married to a lighthouse keeper.  Edward was in his second full year at the Buffalo Life Saving Station, serving at the Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse. 

The New Year also brought changes to the family in Tonawanda.  By now, two of Edward’s sisters were married, Esther in 1903 and Mathilda the previous summer of 1908.  There was going to be another wedding in the fall of 1909.  Edward’s younger brother John was to marry the lovely Rose Gath on October 6.  When the 1909 navigational season opened, a Herman was again sailing the inland seas on the Lot. M. Morrill.  This time it was not Edward, but his younger brother, Alfred.  Edward must have been pleased to realize he had inspired another family member to follow his example.  The path Alfred was taking would surely lead him to the Lighthouse Service. By the time September found its way to the front of the calendar, Alfred had mailed a postcard to his new sister-in-law describing his adventures sailing with the Revenue Cutter Service.  They marched in a parade in Westfield, New York and “made a fine showing”.  The picture on the front of the card was the Barcelona Lighthouse. Edward’s other brother Charles was restless and unsure of the path he would take in life.  He was already writing to Alfred stationed on the Morrill that he “also wanted to do something meaningful with his life”.   Charles also mentioned Margaret was at the family home on Broad Street while Edward was at the light.  From the tone of the postcard, it seems Margaret was often at 346 Broad Street when Edward was on duty.  Perhaps a hint that although on the surface life was good for the family something was struggling under the surface and Margaret may have been the one struggling.  Edward was not aware of what might be yet to come, he was in love and very occupied at the lighthouse. 

If Edward’s personal life was going well, the Buffalo harbor was experiencing something altogether different.  The Buffalo Life Saving Station had one of the most difficult seasons since Edward began his duties at the Light Station.  For the Life Saving Station complex 1909 must have seemed an endless series of wrecks that would only get worse as the summer was witness to a very busy harbor. The beginning of the navigational season just started when the Life Saving Station was alerted to search for a body floating near the break wall.  The keeper and crew located the “badly decomposing body”.  It was not retrievable by the usual method so badly was it decomposed.  The keeper reported they had to use a stick and a blanket in order to pull the body from the water.  The medical examiner determined the body to be one of the Chinese who had drowned when the smuggler’s boat floundered the previous year.  It was only the 28th of April. The next month May would try even the best of crews and keepers.  No one present in the Buffalo harbor would forget the disaster that occurred two weeks into the month of May 1909.  The horrific scene would be recorded and replayed over and over in the minds of everyone who witnessed the tragedy.  It was going to stay with them for a very long time.

On May 14, the day began early.  Traffic was already beginning to crowd the harbor.  At 7:30 a.m., the side-wheel steamer Western States was sailing into the harbor.  She needed a tug to bring her into the inner harbor.  The tug Princeton was doing what had been done many times in the harbor, trying to get a towline to the large steamer.  There was nothing unusual about the procedure, as several attempts had to be made to secure the line.  Then, suddenly, without warning the steamer lurched forward and to the horror of those in the harbor ran over the top of the tug, and stopped with the side wheel still moving.  The wheel would not cease its churning and the tug remained underwater while the harbor filled with smoke and the burning smell of engines over- heating.  As the accident happened in front of the station, the crew sprung into quick action.  Soon all the light keepers were pulled from the lights to offer assistance in what was now a retrieval and not a rescue.  There were police boats and rescue boats amidst the grizzly scene and none could save the crew of the tug.  Another tug was called to assist in the removal of the steamer.  The three bodies were finally recovered although it was with great difficulty.  A diver recovered one body from the top of the submerged tugboat’s smoke stack.  A short distance from the tug the police recovered another body.  The Life Saving crew and light keepers worked for over an hour trying to revive the men.  They were not successful.  The wheel of the steamer the keeper reported was turning so fast, it was impossible for the bodies to come to the surface.  Later, the keeper wrote in his official log book report, “It was done so quickly, even if a thousand men were present, I do not think anymore could be done.”  For those in the harbor, it must have seemed as though the day would never end.   Even sleep brought little comfort to the tired men of the station.  It was an illusive bedfellow for many that night.  When sleep finally did come to the crew and light keepers, the peaceful rest they sought would not come easy to their weary bodies.  While the events of this particular day had ended, the waters of the Buffalo harbor were not finished.  In fact, it seemed she was just getting started.  For the year 1909, the cruel lengths of her watery arms would know no limits for the Life Saving crew.  Summer and fall were yet to come.

The most difficult event of the summer was the drowning of a small boy.  The crew desperately tried to save the child’s life.  The keeper reported the agony of retrieving him from the water and laying the small body across the stern of the tug that was close to the rescue boat.  The men worked on the child for over two hours and continued even after the physician declared him dead.  Sadly, the men could not save the small child and finally after exhausting all efforts turned the body over to the coroner.  The entry in the log book was written with a heavy hand of sorrow.  The summer log book entries were soon filled with numerous boating and shipping disasters.  It seemed there was no respite to the rescues.  The crew no doubt was looking forward to the end of 1909 and a much-needed break from disasters.

Once again, the harbor was nearing the close of the navigational season.  It had been a long and busy season for the Life Saving Station complex.  It was soon to be an even worse end to the season, more then anyone could have imagined.  This year winter was coming early to the Buffalo harbor.  Temperatures were beginning to resemble the middle of February.  On December 9, the weather turned nasty.  The morning temperature started out at 14 degrees.  The thermometer would never make it above 24 degrees and that would only occur later in the day.  The wind was blowing hard and straight across the harbor causing the waves to roll around the bows of ships and making it impossible for ships to enter the harbor. Then the snow started falling.  The Life Saving keeper was notified a steamer was floundering outside the outer break wall.  The crew assembled the rescue boat and entering the rough harbor water set out for the open lake.  The icy winds whipped the water and snow stinging and numbing their faces.  They met up with a tug and followed it to the location of the sinking ship.  As they were nearing the site, another tug signaled the crew to return to the shore.  They were informed another steamer already rescued the fourteen survivors.  Five people had drowned.  The steamer that rescued the fourteen people could not make it into the harbor because the seas were so high from the winds.  There was nothing to do now but wait for the weather to clear. Yet, the Life Saving crew still had a job to perform.  They needed to erect a light on the submerged ship in order to avert further shipping disasters. Against the wind, snow and freezing temperatures they crossed the harbor again.  This time it was to attach a flashing light on the half-submerged boat.  The return trip was met with howling winds and snow and huge waves of water sloshing over the boat.  Finally reaching the safety of the station, the crew could now only wait for the storm to subside.   Three days later on December 11, the steamer was able to sail into the harbor bringing in the survivors from the wrecked W.C. Richardson.  The weather finally cleared enough so that by December 16 the keeper reported the crew was out trying to locate the bodies from the steamer Richardson.  The lake it seemed always gave back what it wrongfully took.  It was the task of the Life Saving crew to retrieve what the lake had claimed before her release.  Sometimes, the lake would make very large claims and the tragedies would be more then the human soul could bear, even for experienced keepers and crews. 

By December of 1909, Margaret had left Buffalo for Hudson, Michigan.  The air was clear and cold and Christmas was just around the corner.  Edward was still working the lighthouse. Back in Buffalo, the weather was turning into winter.  In Hudson, Margaret could once again breathe crisp, clean air and feel her lungs fill without the soot and smoke of the Buffalo harbor.  Leaving the daily activities of the congested Buffalo harbor behind, Margaret was free to enjoy the rural community and the family she very much missed. She and Edward had been married for two years.  Living at the Buffalo Life Saving Station complex had been busy and trying for the wife of the lighthouse keeper. It had been a quiet year, without any personal tragedies to mar their second year of marriage.  The same could not be said for the Buffalo Life Saving Station.  Margaret had been through all the disasters the harbor experienced during the spring, summer and fall.  Now there was welcome relief to be found in the comfort of friends and family back home.  Even though the man she married was very much in love with her, it did not take away the emptiness and the void she felt so far from her hometown.  Their first Christmas had been celebrated in Buffalo with the Tonawanda family.  Their second Christmas was not going to be celebrated in New York.  They were both looking forward to the close of this navigational season and a respite far from the shores of Lake Erie. 

While Margaret was enjoying Michigan with her family, Edward was continuing to deal with the disasters and horrible weather plaguing the harbor that year.  He also was making sure his wife would spend Christmas with a warm coat.  On December 20, Edward mailed a postcard to his beloved wife.  “This is Monday.  Very cold. Harbor is full of ice.  Impossible to ferry across so have to walk around.  Recovered your fur this morn.  Will bring it with me when I come west.  Have been taking heads of gas buoys this morning.  Will have to crate them to be shipped.  Am going uptown to get salary for lights on intake.  With love, Ed”.  Five days later keeper Herman (n) was in Hudson, Michigan. It had been a trying navigational season, but at least it had been a quiet year for them.  He and Margaret were celebrating their second Christmas on the farm where she had spent her childhood.  It was going to be a long time before they experienced another Christmas in Hudson and an uneventful year in their personal lives.  The next several years would not only bring change, but also tragedies.  This New Year would not bring them joy and peace.  Instead, it would bring loneliness and sorrow not only to the family at 346 Broad Street, Tonawanda, New York, but also to the lighthouse keeper and his wife.

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Perhaps it was an indication of the year to come and the events, which were to affect Edward and Margaret.  While the month of January 1910 was uneventful for the keepers left at the Buffalo Life Saving Station, France was experiencing devastating floods.  Paris was being evacuated.  The flooding was the worst the city had ever seen.  The month of February was experiencing political unrest, which would still be left unresolved long after Edward’s death and far into the next century.  The Dali Lama on February 25 fled Tibet from invading Chinese troops, escaping to the British Indies. With the coming of March, winter was slowly winding its way down into spring.  The western New York weather was nothing of note that spring.  The ice was starting to break up on the lake and the navigational season had recently opened for the Buffalo harbor.  Ships were once again beginning to sail on a regular basis and the daily tasks of getting lighthouses and the Life Saving Station ready for another year were consuming the hours of the days.  The sun had not made its way through the clouds very often, but at least the keeper could record something other then smoke in the skies over the harbor.  Margaret and Edward had settled into a life on the “Beach”.  They were starting their third year of marriage and the third decade of life.  If Margaret was feeling discontent living at the Buffalo Life Saving complex she did not write about it.  If Edward knew she had feelings of discontent, he kept those thoughts to himself.

 For now, the world they inhabited watched as Britain celebrated a new king.  In May, George V ascended to the British throne.  By the end of May, the world celebrated another historic event, Glenn Curtiss' flight from Albany to New York City.  Yet, all of this news was meaningless to the family who lived on Broad Street and the “Beach”. They were dealing with the tragedy April had bestowed upon them.  On April 3, in the state of Alaska, the highest mountain in North America was climbed for the first time.  Four days later, the log books for the Life Saving Station recorded the crew was exercising using the beach apparatus and doing various tasks around the station.  For the keeper and crew of the Life Saving Station it was an uneventful day.  However, for Edward and his family, April 7 was remembered for a different reason, one that had nothing to do with the Buffalo Life Saving Station.  On that day, four days after the highest mountain in North America was climbed, Edward’s younger sister, Mary Wilhelmina Rosina was dead.  Born on April 7, 1888 she was just twenty-two years old.  It had been a long time since the family experienced the death of a child.  Her death to a future generation was a mysterious event. Hidden within the family archives, no one remembered she had even existed.  None of her nephews and nieces could recall an aunt with that name.  Written in a family notebook, her birth, baptismal date and death are all that tell the story of her short life.  Yet, for the Herman (n) family living on Broad Street, her death was mourned and recorded in the family bible. Her brother, the lighthouse keeper, kept the death notice, which was printed on a black mourning card. Safely tucked away among the postcards and papers it remained with Edward until his death.  Sadly, for those living on Broad Street and the Buffalo Life Saving Station, more death and grief were still to come.  Sorrow would know no boundaries.

Life continued for the Herman (n) family and certainly for Edward and Margaret.  The life of a lighthouse keeper did not include personal time off for mourning a loved one.  Many a log book records a brief entry of the death of a spouse.  The funeral was attended and the next day business at the lighthouse went on as usual with the tragic event never to be mentioned again.  It was no different for keeper Herman (n) and his family.  Margaret was offering comfort to her sisters-in-law and her mother-in-law.  She knew all too well the grief that comes with the loss of a loved one.  It had not been that many years since her world had been shattered by death.  Edward continued at the Horseshoe Reef Light Station tending the light making sure others did not loose their lives on his watch.  Individual grief was left to be silenced, embraced only by those who shared the passing of a loved one and mourned their loss.

The chill of spring turned suddenly into summer that year.  Activities at the Life Saving Station complex continued to remain busy and full with the usual boating mishaps and rescues.  The summer seemed to pass by all too quickly and soon it was nearing the end of July and the beginning of August.  Then even August was left behind only to be remembered for lazy days of picnics and buttered corn on the cob.  September brought cooler days and nights and a hint of fall. April 7th and the death of Wilhelmina on this particular day seemed far in the past.  It was the beginning of the season when leaves were changing from green to brilliant bursts of rainbow reds and oranges. The Life Saving Station keeper reported on September 6, 1910 the sky was cloudy, but dry.  The temperatures were warm enough to keep the smoke at bay; a good indication that fall would have a lengthy stay.  The crew was busy doing mundane tasks such as cleaning the station windows.  That morning they had been out performing exercises with the boat.  It was a quiet, uneventful day on the Buffalo harbor. 

The same could not be said for 346 Broad Street.  Alfred was in pain.  It had not started out that way, and they all hoped it would pass.  Yet, the pain was worse as the day went on and by evening it was clear something was terribly wrong.  When the doctor arrived, there was no time to transport Alfred to the hospital.  The dinning room table was cleared and Alfred was laid upon the hard wooden surface.  His sisters held the light and handed the instruments, laid out on the dinning room sideboard, to the doctor as he began to cut open Alfred’s abdomen (family recollections differ as to whether he was laid out on the kitchen table and the instruments placed on the counter or the dinning table and the instruments placed on the sideboard).  The doctor could see immediately the festered area where the appendix had already burst open.  It was too late for its poison had already spread beyond the open wound.  Alfred died beneath the knife of the doctor and while his horrified sisters watched helplessly, still holding the light and the bloody surgical instruments used for his operation. He was only eighteen years old. 

Four days later the Great Idaho fire made the national news after destroying three million acres of timber.  The Herman (n) family hardly took notice.  Once again, the death notice for a child of 346 Broad Street was printed on a black card.  It was added to rest with the previous card in the carefully saved file of personal papers and family photographs Edward kept.  October, still warm and pleasant followed September.   The trees were now fully splashed with brilliant bursts of color, an exceptional year for fall. Only this fall’s color would serve as a painful reminder for those who mourned the passing of a son and brother, of the colorful, bright world left void by Alfred’s death.  And, unlike his sister’s death the previous spring, Alfred’s life and death would be remembered well into the next two generations of the Herman (n) family. 

While Alfred‘s family was still grieving, the world was moving forward with more news of technological accomplishments. On November 14, one month later, newspapers reported the first air flight from the deck of a ship.  The event, which took place in Norfolk, Virginia, was both an omen and an amazing feat of technology with far reaching consequences. The accomplishment would eventually give the military another face.  It also was to have a profound effect on a future war.  A war the world did not yet know it was going to fight.  For now though, the thoughts of the Life Saving Station complex were focused not on technology, but the end of the Great Lakes navigational season.  Soon it would be December.  Finally, it was the calendar’s time to mark the close of 1910 and an end to a tragic year for keeper Edward Herman (n) and his family. 

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When the navigational season opened in 1911a member of the Herman (n) family again sailed the Great Lakes.  Filling the emptiness left by Alfred’s death, Charles, found that “something meaningful to do with his life”.  He had expressed those feelings so long ago to his brother Alfred and now it seemed the inland seas were calling to him.  He was sailing on the United States Lighthouse tender, the Crocus.  Edward was no doubt pleased to have his other brother follow in his footsteps.  The tragedies of the previous year had been lightened by one happy event in-between the deaths of Wilhelmina and Alfred.  In June the first grandchild had been born to Edward’s sister Mathilda.  Leona Esther Dornfeld, born on June 8 would not live past her seventeenth year.  However, for the Herman (n) family, she was a welcome and entertaining diversion from the deaths of the last year. 

  When January1911 made its debut and while the country was celebrating the New Year, the first airplane bombing experiments were being conducted using explosives.  Three days after the experiment ended, the first photograph was taken from an American airplane flying out of San Diego, California.  Seven days later, the first shipboard landing of an airplane from one ship, the Tanforan Park to another ship, the USS Pennsylvania took place.  These events would eventually play a large role in the United States military and re-shape the face of the American Navy.  The first year into the new decade the world was heading toward a catastrophic event.  When that event took place, it would be shaped by the experiments of January 1911.  Both would have a direct influence on Edward and Charles.

The race to experiment with aviation continued into the next month.  Six days after Edward celebrated his thirty-third birthday the first hydroplane flight by Glenn Curtiss to and from a ship in San Diego made the news.  The next day the first official flight with airmail took place in Allahbad, British India. 

War continued making the news.  Only this time it was lapping at the United States border.  A revolution was occurring and on May 25, the Mexican Revolution overthrew the president, Jose Porfino Diaz.  Just six days later, the infamous Titanic was launched pushing the technology of ship building into the forefront of invention.  Unfortunately, technology was proven a not so reliable feat on one of her voyages.

Yet, weather not technology or war would make the daily news during the summer of 1911.  July reported record-breaking heat in the northeast United States and the Netherlands.  However, by summer’s end articles about the heat wave were being replaced with other news.   One news item would change the lives of the nation’s women; the other would have an impact on the world.  August, a month for crickets and cicadas was also the month Proctor and Gamble introduced a new product to the American homemaker, Crisco shortening.  And while busy homemakers were happily baking cakes and pies, using Proctor and Gamble’s newest product Italy was declaring war.  On September 29, 1911, Italy declared war on the Ottoman Empire. 

The seasons had once again come full circle.  The brilliant red maple leaves and the golden orange oak and ash tree leaves splashed wave after wave of color across the hills and valleys of western New York.  The warm summer nights were replaced by the chill of autumn’s month of October.  Receding color faded into the brown leaves and dried bouquets of November’s weeds and flowers. The first frost had long since come and gone.  Winter was soon to follow.  By December, the weather on the Great Lakes was beginning to turn blustery and stormy.  Charles was still sailing on the lighthouse tender.  December weather had not yet forced the navigational season to close.  Ice in the harbors and lakes, not snow was the determining factor.  While Edward was tending the light, Charles was in the thick of a storm hastily scribbling off a note to his brother.  In an irony of fate, the postcard though never sent, was a picture of the lighthouse Edward would eventually be assigned.  Yet, the lighthouse depicted on the postcard was not the structure Edward would see on his first visit to Marblehead, Ohio.  Long since restructured and additional height added to the top, Charles’ postcard was a nighttime scene of an older, shorter lighthouse.  Apparently, the postcards with the outdated pictures were still being sold to the public, or at least to the sailors.   Dated December 4, 1911 and written while in Detroit, Charles addressed the card to Mr.  & Mrs. Edward Hermann, Buffalo, N.Y. c/o Life Saving Station.  “Dear Brother and Sister, I received your card yesterday.  After we left Toledo had a blinding snowstorm.  Yesterday our deck was covered in ice.  This was some trip.  You have hard luck with the water down there.  It is pretty cold up here.  I think we will get back to Buffalo this week if we get good weather.  We saved 5 people in a barge launch.  They stove a hole in her from the ice.  Lots of ice at Toledo.  I was ashore last night.  Fine cutter riding here.  I suppose you are getting bad weather.  We just got our gas tanks filled and will leave for the coal dock .  Expect to get our checks today or tomorrow.  Your Brother Chas.” 

Life aboard a Great Lakes vessel had not changed since Edward last sailed on a cutter.  Ice, wind and storms were the hazards for both ship and lighthouse.  The only postcard to survive Charles’ time on board a lighthouse tender paints a stark picture of what sailors faced on the Great Lakes.  Charles did return to Buffalo, although the card was never mailed.  It was eventually hand delivered to Edward, who kept it, possibly, as a reminder of a life once lived on the icy waters of the Great Lakes.  No doubt, both brothers were glad to see the close of the navigational season that year. 

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By 1912, there were indications that Margaret was perhaps not altogether happy in Buffalo.  Edward was gone for long periods at the light.  The weather was often dreary in addition to the pollution that plagued the pier and the harbor.  Margaret never mentioned having children.  Yet, she must have felt some void in her life, especially with another grandchild born to into the Herman (n) family.  Edward’s sister Esther had waited nine years for a child when she learned a baby was going to be in her future. 

On September 11, 1912, Violet Esther Zastrow was born to Esther and Otto.  One month later, on October 10 Violet was baptized.  Edward was at the light the day of her baptism and so by proxy was her sponsor.  Violet was the closest Edward and Margaret would come to having their own child.  The birth of this baby would ultimately see a tragic outcome to a joyous beginning for Edward’s sister.  However, for now, there were two grandchildren and Edward was the guardian and the keeper for one of them.  If Margaret was asked to be a sponsor, no records survive to tell the story.  She was a Methodist.  The Lutheran church did not allow non-Lutherans to be baptismal sponsors. 

Margaret left Buffalo sometime during the fall of 1912 to visit her relatives in upstate New York.  The Manges were related to her through her mother’s side of the family.  They could trace their ancestors all the way to the Mayflower and beyond.  In fact, they could claim a royal ancestor, Jane Seymore.  Yet, for Margaret, the New York relatives provided not a pedigree of birth, but a refuge from the harsh realities of the Buffalo harbor. 

On October 22, Keeper Edward sent his wife a postcard addressed to Mrs. Magraret Herman c/o J.H. Manges, Waterloo, NY.  “Dear Margaret, I did not get out today although I got up quite early this morning.  It is blowing fresh from the south.  If the wind moderates will probably go out by and by.  It is sort of squaly with showers.  I have had my dinner and sampled some of Maties ham.  Also finished the apple p.  I got Mate’s card and two of yours also.  I was at east Hamburg yesterday.  The show was fine.  Got home after 10: o’clock.  I have been to market this morn got some grapes.  When are you coming home.  Edward”. 

Margaret had stayed away long enough for Edward to ask when she was returning home.  The tone of the card is not the same as the one penned to a “dear wife”.  The postcard he had sent when he retrieved her fur coat in the dead of winter before heading west to spend Christmas in Michigan.  That one had been signed, “With love, Ed”.   There is no surviving postcard if she sent a reply.  For Edward, the life of a light keeper was dangerous and stressful enough without the additional burden of an absent wife.  Especially when one had to inquire when she might return home.  Life lived on the harbor was difficult.  The everyday routine of the light keeper gone to the light in twelve-hour shifts and sometimes stranded for days was without question difficult for a spouse.  And probably even more so for one with an independent spirit such as Margaret possessed.  However, the winds of change were soon to blow Edward’s way. This change may have been responsible for saving not only his marriage but also their lives.  The close of the 1912 navigational season was to be his last at the Buffalo Life Saving Station. 

When the 1913 spring navigational season opened, the Buffalo harbor was fairly quiet.  Although as the spring navigational season advanced into the summer months, the number of ships entering the harbor continued to increase. With the increase in ship traffic the usual drowning, rescues and mishaps occurred. There had also been a change of Life Saving Station keepers.  The new keeper for the Life Saving Station seemed to have some difficulty with the crew.  Several were reported having at least one day of liberty taken away for various infractions.  And some were dismissed for failing to perform their duties.  The most serious was when one of the crew fell asleep while on watch.  The Life Saving Station crew under the watchful eye of the new keeper continued to perform exercises with the boats and the rescue apparatus. 

In addition to the usual shipping mishaps, the wrecked W.C. Richardson seemed determined not to lie dormant in her watery tomb.  Several boats were reported wrecked because of coming into contact with the ship while she lay submerged.  And something else new was happening in the harbor.  Technological inventions also brought tragic consequences.  The Life Saving Station complex found an addition to their rescues of shipwrecks and people drowning.  On August 2, 1913, the new keeper recorded a downed hydro aeroplane.  It was only two short years after Glenn Curtiss made the first flight in a hydroplane.

 The Buffalo Life Saving Station was also recording another loss.  Edward was being assigned to the Marblehead, Ohio Lighthouse.  By October of 1913, Margaret was no longer living on the Beach.  She was staying with her in-laws while her husband reported to his new assignment.  On October 12, Edward sent a postcard to Margaret addressed to 346 Broad Street, Tonawanda, NY.  It was sent from Marblehead, Ohio.  “Dear wife, Arrived here O.K.  Had a pretty good trip but got rather tired before I got here.  Have a slight headache but expect I will be O.K. in the morn.  My baggage will not be here until tomorrow.  Hope this card will give you an idea of the place.  Will tell you more about it after I report for duty tomorrow.  It is blowing quite hard tonight.  With love, Good night.  E.M.H.”   With that postcard, Margaret saw the first daylight picture of the new lighthouse and residence she would be moving to the following month. 

What little furniture they possessed had already been packed.  Now, Margaret was waiting in Tonawanda, living with her in-laws.  When she heard from Edward again, it would be to tell her it was time to move to the Marblehead Lighthouse.  Margaret was ready to leave the smoke filled harbor behind and breathe the air of a place much closer to her home.  It was a place for new beginnings and they were both ready for this change.  December was now only two months away.  Together they would celebrate their sixth Christmas in a new home.  Finally, Margaret heard from Edward.  It was time to leave New York State and the Buffalo harbor.  Saying good-bye to her Tonawanda family, she was soon on her way to Ohio and into the arms of a man who loved her.  This time he had signed the postcard to her, “with love”.  Yes, it was going to be a joyous Christmas and a very happy New Year to usher in 1914. 

By the time Edward and Margaret were safely in their new keeper’s residence, Buffalo experienced one of the most horrific inland sea disasters.  The Life Saving Station would not understand the full extent of the tragedy until it had played out a gruesome scene.  When it finished, an entire ship and crew vanished without a trace as though they had never existed.  Once more Edward’s charmed life saved him from what later would be known as, the Great White Hurricane.  Now however, gone from the pollution, noise, shipwrecks and disasters that frequented the Buffalo Life Saving Station complex, Keeper Herman (n) and Margaret settled into their new life.  Here they would be confronted with new challenges, joys and of course life’s tragedies.  It was also the place they would call home for the next thirty years.  Marblehead Lighthouse was about to meet the new assistant keeper and his independent and spirited wife, Margaret.

Post Script.  It is tragic that no log books survive from the Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse.  The Buffalo Life Saving Station complex was situated on one of the busiest harbors in the Great Lakes.  While much can be constructed from the Life Saving Station log books and Edward’s correspondance from that period, they would have added another dimension to the existing historical records.  Their disappearance leaves a huge void in the life of the keepers of the Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse.  Especially now when the lighthouse exists with only skeletal remains as a witness to the dangerous and heroic activities that occurred on a daily basis in the Buffalo, New York harbor.




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