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The lighthouse keeper looked across...
Marblehead village is located in Ottawa County...
The war of 1812 plunged...
Two letters were sent to Edward...
Buried deep within the Sandusky Public Library...
The first thing Edward did...
Oct 1913 was a month of changes...
Edward's first year at Marblehead...
"Even if I knew that the world would"...
There were only two months...





The lighthouse keeper looked across the frozen Great Lake.  From the top of the lighthouse deck, he could see tiny specks walking slowly across the wide expanse of white snow.  Raising the government issued binoculars to his eyes; he squinted to get a better look.  His breath hung in the air like the silvery puffs of clouds overhead.  Unlike the clouds, the whiteness whirled in patterns only to disappear in shimmering drops of moisture the harder he exhaled.  Except for the wind, it was the only other sound to be heard.  Slowly, he focused the instrument on the moving objects.  He breathed harder and harder as he realized what was trekking across the lenses of the binoculars on this bitterly cold day.  “Today”, he recorded, “I saw many wolves crossing the ice from the peninsula of Marblehead to Kelly’s Island.  They walked in great numbers across the bay.”

The lighthouse to which Edward was now assigned was located on the opposite end of Lake Erie from Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse and the Buffalo harbor.  This lighthouse was not in a foreign country.  It was planted firmly on American soil and rock.  Marblehead Lighthouse was old.  It had been around for a long time and witnessed a great deal of Ohio’s history, including the Civil War.  By the time Edward became the assistant keeper, Marblehead was already an established tourist icon.   It also had the distinction of being the first lighthouse on the Great Lakes to have a female keeper.  Steeped in tradition and rich in history it was the exact opposite of Edward’s first lighthouse.  Remote and beautiful this lighthouse had a keeper’s residence along with grounds supporting fruit trees and vegetable gardens.  The nearest city was Sandusky.  The nearest town was Marblehead.  The peninsula was also home to Lakeside, a Methodist Chautauqua community.  All three communities provided the area a broad religious, cultural and historical diversity unique to this part of Lake Erie and Ohio.  The skies were no longer filled with a smoky haze.  Instead, the air was clear and fresh, the water deep and blue, reflecting the pollution free atmosphere. 

To the right of the lighthouse, across the bay was Cedar Point, an amusement park that attracted hundreds of visitors every summer.  Barnstorming pilots could be seen filling the skies overhead with their daring aeronautical stunts.  The ferries carried passengers back and forth between the various islands that dotted the waters around the bay.  There was good fishing and hunting and if you were not a tea totaller, local wineries provided folks with outstanding vintages to sip over dinner.   For many, many years, this section of the lake had been a tourist Mecca.

Not far from the shores of Lake Erie, the inland was the birthplace of aviation in Ohio.  Orville and Wilbur Wright sprang from the solid mid-western stock of those who called Ohio home. Glenn Curtiss set records flying from Cleveland to Cedar Point. 

Quarrying was an important industry and the foundation of the very lighthouse itself.  Limestone was carved out of the last glacial age, leaving jagged edges to the banks of the lakes, rivers and surrounding islands.  Hard and gray in color the rocks had a history. The history contained within was often visible to the naked eye.  Fossils of creatures long ago were embedded within their rock tomb, strewn about in layer after layer of the limestone.  Ships entered the ports to transport the rock from the quarries, carrying the fossil remains far from their place of origin. 

When Edward stepped off the boat onto the limestone banks of Marblehead, Ohio his feet were planted solid in the history of the place.  Eventually, he too would become a part of its history, however, not before a very long journey.  When the journey was completed, Captain Herman (n)’s career, as a lighthouse keeper would end not only a history, but also an era. 

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Marblehead village is located in Ottawa County, Ohio.  The village itself sits at the tip of the Marblehead peninsula, which divides Lake Erie proper from Sandusky Bay.  Named for the rock surrounding the area, Marblehead is known for the commercial quarrying of the limestone rock.  The limestone is mined in nearby quarries and is transported by conveyor belts to the Marblehead boat loading docks.  From there it is loaded onto commercial lake freighters.  Looking due east, the view is an uninterrupted expanse of lake all the way to Buffalo, New York. 

The village of Marblehead has a long and interconnected history with lighthouses, light keepers and Life Boat Stations.  The limestone rock quarried from the various quarries built not only the Marblehead Lighthouse; it also was used in the construction of the Stannard's Rock Light.  The Stannard's Rock Light built from 1877 to 1881 is located on Lake Superior.  The early beginnings of Marblehead Village are ironically connected to a lighthouse in Buffalo, New York, the Life Saving Station and a lighthouse keeper. 

A petition for incorporation was submitted by the people of Marblehead to incorporate as a village on June 2, 1890.  The petition was granted.  On April 14, 1891, the newly incorporated Village of Marblehead held its first Council meeting.  The new mayor was a man named Winslow Griesser.  His brother Daniel served on the village council.  Mayor Griesser was thirty-three years old.  However, Mayor Griesser had another occupation in addition to being the Village of Marblehead’s first mayor.  He was also working for the United States government at the Life Boat Station.  The 1880 census lists Winslow Griesser twenty-three years old and married only one year, as employed “in the Life Boat Station”.   The young crewman and his family hailed from the Danbury, Ottawa County Township.  His father, John, was born in Württemberg. The reason for settling in Ohio and the area is not known.  Future census records listed the last name in addition to Griesser, as Greaser.  Presumably, because the recorder did not understand the German accent, or could not spell the name.  In the 1870 census, John is listed as a laborer.  Winslow, born in 1854, is sixteen and his brother Daniel, born in 1858, is twelve.  According to the 1860 census, John may have been a watchmaker.  The variations in the name spelling present difficulties in tracing Winslow’s father.

A direct influence on Winslow’s choice of careers may be tied to an event he and his brother Daniel might have witnessed. The winter of 1870 was brutal and devastating for ships on the Great Lakes.  At least 214 people lost their lives as a result of shipwrecks.  Standing on the shores of the lake, the townspeople had no recourse except to watch the horrific events.  There was a definite need for a Life Saving Station.

 On May 1, 1875, a strong gale force wind was blowing out of the northwest causing rough waves over the lake water.  A man named Lucien Clemons, a laborer, probably at the limestone quarry and his brothers, A.J. and Hubbard, a sailor noticed a schooner in trouble.  The schooner Consuelo had just been loaded with stone blocks from the quarry and was heading out to sea.  As the waves whipped around by the gale plunged into the sides of the ship the load of stone blocks began to shift.  Suddenly, the distressed vessel capsized.   By now over fifty people were gathered on the shore watching helplessly as the captain, cook and three crewmen drowned in the raging waters.  Two men survived, clinging to the mast and rigging.  As the crowd grew, three men decided to take matters into their own hands.  The Clemons brothers removed a 12-foot flat bottom skiff from its moorings.  Ignoring the cries of family and the gathered crowd, the brothers pushed the boat into the wind whipped waves and began rowing out to the drowning men.  The wind tossed the small boat back and forth through crashing waves.  The strength of the men, two who worked quarrying stone, was no match for the angry lake storm.  They continued to row the skiff, reaching the nearly drowned men after almost a full hour with the oars against the pounding waves.  One by one the two men were pulled from the mast and rigging into the skiff.  The return back to shore proved even more difficult then the trip out.  The weight of the wet, rescued men now overloaded the small skiff.  Instead of three, there were five and the wind continued to blow hard against the boat.  Finally, the skiff received assistance from a steamboat tug from Kelly’s Island.  The skiff, the rescued men and the Clemons brothers safely reached the shore. 

In response to the many disasters, the government commenced building a Life Saving Station.  The station was inaugurated in 1876 and the new head keeper was Lucien Clemons.  He commanded a crew of six men.  The United States Life Saving Service awarded the first Life Saving Medals to Lucien, A.J. and Hubbard for the heroic rescue of the drowning Consuelo sailors.  Lucien was awarded the gold; the two brothers were awarded silver medals, the first in the history of the Life Saving Service.  By 1880, A.J. was working as a quarry processor.  His brother, Lucien was still the head keeper for the Life Saving Station.  And, another addition to the crew was working at the Life Saving Station, twenty-three year old Winslow Griesser.  Ten years later at age, thirty-three, Winslow was the new mayor for the recently incorporated village of Marblehead, Ohio.  The village was home to the already famous Marblehead Lighthouse built in 1821. 

Winslow was not destined to remain a crew member under keeper Lucien Clemons.  He learned well the fundamentals of drills and rescues under the master teacher.  In 1880, Winslow married a woman named Julia.  Eventually, they left Marblehead for a different station.  The new Life Saving Station was an opportunity for advancement.  Although Marblehead village lost its mayor, the Buffalo Life Saving Station gained a new head keeper.  Winslow Griesser took command of the Life Saving Station and soon his path was to meet another new lighthouse keeper.  Almost seventeen years after serving under Lucien Clemons, Head Keeper Griesser welcomed Edward M. Herman (n), then just beginning his career to the Buffalo Life Saving Station.  When Edward left Buffalo, his path went not to a Life Saving Station, but a lighthouse and a community already familiar with the heroic actions of Life Savers and the village’s first mayor, Winslow Griesser.  

Winslow’s brother Daniel eventually went on to a career with the Life Saving Service.  And in another irony of history, the name of the shipwreck that resulted in the heroic rescue efforts of Lucien Clemons and his two brothers was the Consuelo.  This was also the surname of Margaret’s Spanish ancestors, traceable to the early 1500’s. 

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The war of 1812 plunged the new country into an economic depression.  Two places were approved for construction of lighthouses on Lake Erie, Buffalo, NY and Erie, PA.  The year Congress approved funding for the structures was 1810.  The British interfered with the construction when a war was fought with ships and the village of Buffalo being burned.  The plans for building were shelved; battles and rebuilding burned villages took precedence over lighthouse construction.  The end of the war brought new troubles to the United States.  Factories in the east lost their market.  The farmers in the mid-west were raising crops needed in the east.  The factories produced tools, clothing and furniture, which the farmers needed.  Transportation of goods and services to a country in an economic depression once again became an important issue for the government.  The Erie Canal was under construction, which was essential for commerce on the Great Lakes, especially Lake Erie.  The Ohio and Mississippi Rivers were another good source of transporting goods and already steamboats were beginning to travel their waterways. 

In order for vessels to travel safely on the Lakes, lighthouses were needed.  Lighthouses cost money, and Congress needed to approve the funds necessary for building them.  On March 1, 1819 two days before adjourning, the fifteenth Congress passed a bill for navigation aids.  The bill authorized the construction of lighthouses, beacons and buoys.  The sites selected were Boston, Buzzard and Chesapeake Bays, and Lakes Ontario and Erie.  On March 3, 1819, Congress appropriated $5,000 for the construction of a lighthouse at or between the mouth of the Grand River in Ohio and the mouth of the Detroit River.  The following year, on May 15, 1820, Congress voted an additional $5,000 after realizing the initial funds were not enough.

In 1821 Stephen Pleasonton, the general superintendent of lights, purchased four acres of land at Marblehead Point, a cost of about $300.  The property was part of the estate of Epaphras Bull, who also owned Bull’s Island.  This island underwent a name change to Johnson’s Island and eventually played an important role during the Civil War as a POW camp for Confederate soldiers. 

Steven Woolverton, a resident of Erie County, Ohio was awarded the contract to build the lighthouse and keeper’s dwelling for $6,520.  The stone tower was to be built 50 feet high with a base 25 feet in diameter.  The top was to be built 12 feet in diameter with the thickness of the walls graduating from five feet at the base to the designated diameter at the top. 

Woolverton subcontracted the construction to a man named William Kelly.  William Kelly moved from New York State to Ohio in 1818.  William was Sandusky’s first stonemason and was the builder of many stone homes in the city of Sandusky.  The rock used was the natural limestone quarried near Marblehead.  The building commenced with Kelly being paid $1.50 per day and his helpers receiving .87 ½ cents per day.  William Kelly’s young son, thirteen-year-old John Reid, helped his father with the construction.  (John eventually married the daughter of the first lighthouse keeper, Elizabeth Wolcott.  Her father was Benajah Wolcott, who served until his death from cholera in 1832.  The first woman to serve as a lighthouse keeper on the Great lakes was his wife, Rachel.)

Construction of the lighthouse began in September of 1821 and was completed in November of that same year, taking only eleven weeks to complete.  The commissioning did not occur until the opening of the navigational season the following year. The name given to the lighthouse at Marblehead was the Sandusky Bay Light Station.  It was lit by 13 Argand lamps, which were fueled by whale oil.  The first keeper was Benajah Wolcott who lived in a stone house quite some distance from the Sandusky light.  Construction of a small limestone house on the lighthouse property was completed at the same time as the lighthouse.  The house was mostly used during the navigational season when the light was activated.  A larger keeper’s residence would not be built on the same property as the lighthouse until 1880.  When built it contained quarters for both head and assistant keepers.

Seven lighthouse keepers later, in 1858 on keeper Jared B. Keyes’ watch, a new 4th Order Fresnel Lens was installed.  This lens replaced the 13 Argand lamps and required only one lamp.  Whale oil was becoming expensive and scarce.  The new lens helped reduce cost and time spent by the keeper maintaining the light.  

Almost fifty years after the lighthouse’s construction and ten keepers later, the name was changed.  On keeper Russell Douglas’ watch, Sandusky Light Station was changed to Marblehead Lighthouse.  Ten years and eleven keepers later, the lighthouse was given a stucco coating over the limestone blocks and then painted.  The stucco and painting of the structure was under the watch of keeper George McGee. Keeper McGee died in 1896 at the age of forty-five and the keeper’s position was filled by his wife Johanna. 

The following year under Johanna’s watch, the lighthouse was remodeled.  Seventy-six years after the initial construction began; the lighthouse was raised higher with the addition of an extra fifteen feet.  This addition allowed for a new watch room bringing the total height of the lighthouse to sixty-five feet.  Brick, not limestone was the building material used for the new construction.  The completion of the project brought another lens to the lighthouse.  A larger light was obtained from Erie, PA, again reducing the cost by using only six ounces of oil per hour. 

Thirty years after Johanna first began keeping the light, another keeper was appointed to the Marblehead Lighthouse.  The lighthouse was entering its eighth decade when Charles Hunter arrived to take over the position of keeper from Johanna McGee.  In 1904, the first year of Hunter’s service the lighthouse received another new light.  A 3 ½ Order Fresnel lens was installed.  This lens featured a clock mechanism to turn the light. According to the Lighthouse Bureau’s records “the new Marblehead light flashes white every ten seconds.  It is lit by 42,000 candle power and can be seen 16 miles out to sea”.   Although there were reports, the light could be seen on a clear night some thirty-five miles out to sea. 

When Edward M. Herman (n) reported for duty the month of October 1913, Marblehead Lighthouse was ninety-two years old.  Fourteen head keepers had maintained the light.  Two of them were women and one had served for thirty years.  Johanna McGee by only a few months served longer at the lighthouse then Edward’s thirty years as both an assistant and head keeper.  Assistant keeper Edward Herman (n) began his new assignment at the Marblehead Lighthouse on October 13, 1913.  He was thirty-five years old; five months shy of celebrating his thirty-sixth birthday. 

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Two letters were sent to Edward  Herman (n).  The first letter was issued through the Department of Commerce, Appointment Division, Washington.  In big bold letters printed at the top was the title, “GENERAL APPOINTMENT”.  The letter was dated October 8, 1913.

Mr. Edward M. Herman,

Through the Commissioner of Lighthouses.


You have been appointed, subject to taking the oath of office, ____________Assistant Keeper_______________ in the ______________ Lighthouse Service _____________at a salary of ________ Four Hundred and eighty ____ dollars per ____ annum, effective on the date on which you enter upon duty in the above-mentioned position.

(By transfer from assistant keeper at $490 per annum)

  Your actual and necessary traveling expenses from Horseshoe Reef Light Station, New York, to Marblehead Light Station, Ohio, have been authorized.

                            By direction of the Secretary:


                                                    Chief of Appointment Division


Appropriation:  Salaries, Keepers of Lighthouses.

Vice: Earl O. Mapes

Legal Residence: New York.



Edward received a second letter dated October 11, 1913.  This letter was sent from the Department of Commerce and Labor under the auspicious of the Lighthouse Service.  It was written from the hand of the Office of Inspector, 10th District Inspector.  The office was located in the Federal Building in Buffalo, NY.


Mr. Edward M. Herman,

         Asst. Keeper, Marblehead Light Station, Ohio.

Referring to letter from this office dated October 9,1913, assigning you for duty at

Marblehead Light Station, Ohio; there is enclosed herewith Department letter dated

October 8, 1913, appointing you Assistant Keeper in the Lighthouse Service at a salary of

$480 per annum, effective on date of entrance on duty in the above mentioned

position.  There is also enclosed a blank form for Oath of Office which you are requested

to have properly executed and returned to this office as soon as practicable.


                                                                      Roscoe House



Apparently, the Marblehead Lighthouse was not viewed as dangerous.  At least not as dangerous as the Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse in Buffalo was considered.  Edward’s pay had been reduced from $490 a year to $480 a year.  This would not be the only time Edward was to feel the sting of a reduction in salary.  He traded a busy, congested urban harbor for a picturesque, historic lighthouse almost one hundred years old.  Moreover, it was a real lighthouse, not a box of wood on four iron legs sitting in foreign water.  There survive no written records to tell how he felt about the reduction in pay.  Nothing survives to tell how it was he came to be assigned to Marblehead. 

The two letters were quite different from those addressed to the new assistant keeper in Buffalo.  Now the second letter simply instructed Edward to execute properly the Oath of Office.  There were no detailed instructions; presumably, it was assumed he knew how it was done.  There is also no indication what amount the government thought necessary and actual expenses incurred for travel from Buffalo to Marblehead should be paid.  The expenses involved not just Edward.  He had a wife and she was expected to be a part of the package deal.  Yet, there is no mention of expenses for the transportation of a spouse.  Edward, it seems was the only person the government felt responsible for moving from Buffalo to Marblehead, Ohio.

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Buried deep within the Sandusky Public Library archives is a letter.  Written on August 15, 1973 it was sent to Mr. Fred Wollf of Sandusky, Ohio from Charles Hunter’s stepson. 


                            “Dear Sir.

                                        In answer to your inquiry regarding my stepfather Mr. Charles

Hunter Keeper of Marblehead, Ohio light the following information

is furnished.”

The information furnished was for the most part not factual and very inaccurate.   Keeper Hunter was not the son of a Navy ship captain.  He was not born in Cleveland.  He also did not start out his career as a deckhand on a ship whose captain was his brother.

Charles Arthur Hunter was the fourth child born to James and Jane Hunter.  Born about 1870 in Erie, Pennsylvania, he was the youngest of four boys.  The family history is sketchy before the birth of the oldest son.  James and Hunter are common Irish names and the census contains conflicting records of information.  However, a James Hunter is listed on the 1850 census.  At the time, James was twenty years old having been born in Ireland about 1827-1830.  He may have emigrated from Ireland to America in 1849.  By 1850, he lived in New York State. The town of Fort Edward is located on the Hudson River having a long history to the state and the early America of the 1700’s.  Susan B. Anthony reportedly taught school within the township in her early years before taking up the suffragist’s cause.  James was not living in the township; he was listed as a laborer.  Under the employment of James Stott and his wife Martha, James Hunter worked their farm. 

When the 1860 census was taken, James no longer lived in New York State.  In the ten years since the last census, James married a woman named Jane and they had a son.  Silus (Silas) was two years old.  When or why James moved to Erie, Pennsylvania is not clear.  He was by now thirty years old and listed personal wealth as $100 and his real estate value at $400.  His occupation listed as “laborer” does not indicate any association with a farm. 

Almost ten years later, James went form laborer to sailing.  There is no record of a James Hunter as a captain in the official register of the United States Revenue Cutter Service or the Navy records.  There is record of a James Hunter, living in Erie, Pennsylvania who served during the Civil War as a 1st Lieutenant in the army from July 29, 1861 to September 29, 1862.  It is most likely the same James Hunter.  By 1867, James Hunter was the joint owner of two steamboats.  From an article dated October 31, 1867 in the Erie Daily Dispatch, Captain James Hunter and Captain Ormsby owned two vessels, the Jessie Cinger and the Minnie Harris. 

The 1880 census record is the most complete listing for the family.  James Hunter is fifty-one years old and is listed as a steamboat captain.  Jane Hunter is fifty-two years old and is listed as keeping house.  Silas Hunter is twenty-two years old and is listed as an engineer on the lakes.  William Hunter is twenty and now a seaman. (A later census would list him as an engineer on the lakes.)  Thomas is seventeen, Charles is fourteen and both are listed as “in school”.  All the children are recorded as being born in the state of Pennsylvania.  The family has done well.  There is a Jane Dougale, age seventeen listed as a “servant”. 

James Hunter may have started the Merchants Seamen Society.  There is mention of a James Hunter and the listing for this person is similar to Charles Hunter’s father.  Charles Hunter was not a man of little schooling as many were led to believe in his later life.  Both he and his brothers finished high school.  Both of his older brothers were marine engineers.  There is no record surviving that mentions either Silas or William as ship captains.  It is doubtful that Charles first sailed on ships with Silas as a captain.  If he did sail on a ship with his older brother, it was most likely when Silas was an engineer.  It is also possible Charles sailed with his father as the captain. 

The city of Erie and the Hunter’s residence are located on the shores of Lake Erie. Within eyesight to the family home were lighthouses and Life Saving Stations.  Charles was very familiar with them.  They guided his father and brothers home safely from the inland seas and provided the means for rescue should the need arrive.  Charles’ brother Silas moved to Cleveland, Ohio before the 1900 census.  When the census was recorded, he was listed as forty-one and married to Jennie, thirty-six years old.  He continued to work as a marine engineer.  He and his wife listed six children, a set of twin boys among the large sibling numbers. 

Charles knew about ships and sailing.  He also knew about lighthouses.  It was in his blood.  Both of his older brothers made a living off the inland seas.  It seemed a destiny to which Charles was not able to escape, if he even wanted to do so. His path to the Lighthouse Service was probably similar to Edward’s path with the exception of enlisting in the Revenue Cutter Service.  There is no written record of his journey to becoming a lighthouse keeper except the letter in the library archives.  The recollection of a stepson many years after his death sheds very little light on Charles Hunter.  Most of the information remembered by the stepson is clouded by time and memory.  Charles’ step grandson also left verbal and recorded recollections of his grandfather.  Unfortunately, they too were clouded by time, memory and age. 

Charles Hunter was appointed to the United States Lighthouse Service, beginning his career on Lake Ontario.  Many years later, people remembered he had first served at a lighthouse, the name long forgotten and confused with another keeper.  The place was thought to be Buffalo, New York. However, it was the 30 Mile Point Lighthouse, located near Barker, New York.  Barker is closer to Lockport (about 23 miles), a city situated on the Erie Canal and named for the location of the canal locks within its boundaries. Both Barker and the lighthouse are located on Lake Ontario. 

When Charles Hunter was appointed to the Marblehead Lighthouse, he succeeded one of the longest serving female lighthouse keepers on the Great Lakes.  Charles was also not married.  A man of many talents, he was the embodiment of the public's perception of a salty old lighthouse keeper.  By the 1910 census, Jane Hunter is listed as eighty-three and living with the head keeper for the Marblehead Lighthouse in the keeper’s residence.  Jane's death occurs two years later. Charles is forty years old. His brothers were all married with large families; Charles was single and living in a spacious residence.  Thus, the responsibility of caring for his mother fell to Charles. The year before Edward Herman (n) first met Charles Hunter, he was single and living with his mother Jane.  He had by then shaped a personality for himself and was already a public figure of note on the Marblehead peninsula.  He created a persona based on stereotypes and the public’s fascination with lighthouse keepers.  He was whom he made himself to be- the salty old man of the inland sea.

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The first thing Edward did after arriving at the new lighthouse was write his wife a postcard. He arrived late in the evening, the wind was blowing hard and he had a headache from the long trip.  Luggage arriving on time is not a modern day problem facing travelers.  Edward’s baggage did not arrive with him. 

The postcard was sent to, “give you an idea of the place”.  He signed it, “with love, good night”.   The next day Edward reported for duty.  A postcard with further information about the new assignment was going to be sent to Margaret after he reported for duty.  She no longer lived at the keeper’s residence in Buffalo.  Waiting for word from Edward, she stayed with her in-laws at the Broad Street address in Tonawanda.  Other then a postcard form her brother-in-law sent while sailing on the Crocus, Margaret had never seen the place. 

Prior to keeper Charles Hunter, the lighthouse did not have an assistant keeper other then the spouse and family of the head keeper.  Charles Hunter changed that and in his own way set a precedence, which only ended with his retirement.  Charles Hunter was not married.  There was no other person besides his mother living at the keeper’s residence.  Jane Hunter was eighty-three years old, not exactly an age to be climbing lighthouse stairs fifty-five feet high to the deck of a lighthouse.  There was no “package deal” in Charles’ near future.  The government was forced to hire an assistant keeper.  Shortly after the new head keeper moved into the residence, an assistant was appointed to the Marblehead Lighthouse.  For eighty-two years Marblehead Lighthouse was tended by a single keeper and their families, two of them were women.  Now, without a family to help share the workload, the need for an assistant became an issue the Lighthouse Service needed to address.  Clinton Egelton became the first assistant keeper the month of April 1903.  It was a short marriage.  Two months later, he resigned. 

Keeper Hunter seemed destined to have more vacancies for the position of assistant keeper then there were keepers to fill it.  Charles began his duties on April 1, 1903.  By June 4, 1903, the second assistant keeper reported for duty.  Charles Perry lasted a little longer then the first assistant, resigning after three years on October 10, 1906.  One day after his departure, Earl Mapes moved his furniture into the residence and reported for duty.  Six years later, on October 1, 1913, Earl Mapes resigned.  It was ten years after Charles Hunter reported for duty as the head keeper, that he welcomed his fourth assistant keeper to Marblehead.  Edward Herman (n) was here to stay. 

After the third assistant keeper left, the Lighthouse Service realized their mistake.  Hiring local men who did not have any military or lighthouse training proved disastrous.  After resigning, the assistants went back to their former positions working as laborers.  They did not remain in the Lighthouse Service.  Learning by doing was no longer an option for lighthouse keepers or their assistants.   Military training provided the discipline, ship navigation the experience necessary for the position.  Technology was becoming more complicated for the light.  Training an assistant with no prior experience was not cost effective.  The next assistant keeper for Marblehead came from the ranks of the Lighthouse Service. 

Edward arrived as a seasoned Great Lakes sailor, military enlisted officer and assistant lighthouse keeper.  The personalities of Charles Hunter and Edward Herman (n) were the exact opposite.  Keeper Hunter, often was remembered as being loud, brash, and a storyteller. Edward was often remembered as being quiet, disciplined, meticulous and serious. Yet, both keepers shared a similar background as sailors on the Great Lakes.  And, Edward knew the ropes of an assistant lighthouse keeper.  He also understood what was required of the position.  While not a perfect match, it lasted for twenty years.  When Edward was promoted to head keeper after Charles Hunter resigned, the position of assistant ended. 

Charles Hunter was not married.  He lived downstairs with his eighty-year-old mother.  He had never married.  He was the only son to remain single in the family.  His brothers all had large families.  Charles was especially close to his oldest brother Silas.  Silas journeyed to the lighthouse on many occasions to visit his brother and mother often bringing one of his young sons with him.  When Edward sent off his first postcard to Margaret, he neglected to mention the only other women living there the last ten years were Charles’ eighty-four year old mother and Charles Perry‘s wife and infant child.  He had resigned six years before Earl Mapes.  Jane’s death (Jane Hunter died on August 12,1912) had occurred the previous year.  Margaret was moving into a bachelor pad with only a staircase separating the second floor apartment from the main floor.  When Edward tended the light, she was alone with the head keeper.  This was not the ideal situation and one the Lighthouse Service certainly did not encourage.  Charles Hunter married eventually.  When he did, the balance of life changed for everyone at the lighthouse.  The salty old man of the inland sea married for the first time at the age of 50, a widow, forty-seven years old.  Margaret and Edward had been living at the lighthouse for almost seven years.

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October 1913 was a month of changes for the Marblehead Lighthouse.  The weather was mostly mild in the beginning of the month with winds primarily blowing out of the south, southeast and occassionally from the southwest.  Summer and early fall temperatures had cooled to a pleasant 60 degrees during the day.  When Edward arrived, the weather was beautiful.  Winds were light, changing slightly from the south to the southeast.  The sky was clear, bright and crisp; the temperature remained steady at 44 degrees.  Previously, the temperature high for the day was a balmy 60 degrees.  The temperature had dropped almost twenty degrees overnight.  The day after Edward arrived; the high was only 44 degrees, wet and rainy.  Perhaps as an omen of what was to come to the Marblehead Lighthouse, the day of Edward’s arrival the winds suddenly changed.  Now they were blowing from the northeast, the direction of the Horseshoe Reef Lighthouse and Tonawanda, NY.  The day that Edward reported for duty the high was 44 degrees, cold, wet and again rainy.  There is no record of when Margaret arrived to her new home.  Charles Hunter never acknowledges her presence in the log books until one brief entry five years later.  However, five days after Edward reported for duty, the tender Crocus arrived, bringing Edward’s household goods.  No mention is made whether Margaret arrived as part of those goods.  Four days later, snow began falling; it was only the middle of October.  The end of the month brought the return of the Crocus, this time with the Superintendent W.D. Gardener.  In addition to bringing two white uniforms and a cap from the Buffalo Inspector, he did another station inspection.  The first month at the lighthouse ended quietly.

Buffalo had its own share of cold, rainy and unpredictable weather.  However, the Marblehead Lighthouse sat on an exposed peninsula bringing its own lake assaults and weather changes.  One day the weather could be nice, fooling and enticing the unsuspecting into believing it was still summer.  The next day temperatures could plummet to freezing bringing snow and ice almost over-night to the lake.  November started out just that way.  Edward soon learned the upper level of a large house did not produce the warmest environment.   The day after the temperature fell to 30 degrees he was off to Sandusky, returning with a baseburner!

The month of December was the beginning of trouble for the peninsula and the trouble continued into the New Year.  The weather did not help the situation.  Temperatures started out near 50 degrees at the beginning of the month.  Gradually, they went down, then up and then down, 48-52-30’s-20’s while the precipitation moved back and forth between rain and snow.  In the midst of the unsettling weather, the trouble arose, like an untamed beast from the sea.  Diphtheria began to spread throughout the community consuming in its deadly path both adults and children.  It spared no one, the young and the old, the well and the feeble; all became victims of the gray mucus that slowly suffocated already enlarged necks.  There was no cure.  In fact, there would never be a cure.   Seven years later a vaccination was developed saving children from the disease and practically wiping out its existence off the earth.  Unfortunately, this was not that year.  Now there was nothing except to ride out the spread of the bacteria and close down the churches and the schools.  And, hope the infection passed quickly. 

Their first Christmas was not going to be spent among the diphtheria infected community inhabitants.  Edward had sixteen days leave due him.  Edward left the Marblehead peninsula three days before the Christmas holiday.  There is no record to tell where that Christmas was celebrated.  Charles Hunter recorded in the log book for Christmas Day a gale was blowing with snow falling.  Charles apparently, celebrated Christmas alone at the lighthouse.

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Edward’s first year at the Marblehead Lighthouse was going to set the pace and direction of the daily activities for the next thirty years.  The technology advancements of the new century might change the mechanisms of the light tower, the community and the world of the keepers.  Yet, through it all, they painted, maintained, and cultivated an environment that bi-passed marriages, deaths, wars, depressions and personal tragedies.  The light-the always-present light to guide ships and sailors was foremost in their lives.  Some of the events were recorded, if only briefly, many were left untold.  Their stories survive only because they outlasted the keepers.  Some stories survive because they remain today a living witness to the very soul of the person who stood watch on the lighthouse decks.  The year 1914 was going to be one such year for the new assistant keeper. 

January was the start of 1914, and the New Year.  It was also the close of the navigational season for Lake Erie.  The diphtheria that had plagued the local community and dampened the Christmas of 1913 continued until the second week of the New Year.  Then, Charles Hunter reported the, “Diphtheria was cured.  All the schools are now open.”  Edward returned to the lighthouse after sixteen days leave, just in time for the storm.  It began at the end of January with snow falling and turning into sleet.  The sleet storm was powerful enough to down poles and stop street cars from running. 

Pipes froze.  People froze.  There was nothing to do except repair the leak in Edward’s sink.  February initially began with relatively mild winter temperatures, a direct contrast to January‘s ending.  The mild temperatures did not last very long.  Twenty-six degrees gradually began a slow decent to freeze even hell beneath the earth.  The weather turned nasty, gentle snow suddenly whipped into a frenzy of icy, cold, relentless blizzards.  Twenty-five degrees slid to ten degrees.  Ten degrees fell to zero degrees, then minus one degree.  The mercury returned above to a warm six degrees until it went back down to zero degrees.  For two straight days, the mercury stayed the same, reading zero.  Keeper Hunter recorded, “The lake is covered in ice.  The ice in the lake is two feet thick and is as far as one can see.”  There would be months in other years where the ice filled the lake ten feet deep with temperatures well below zero degrees.  Sometimes the ice lured the innocent to cross the great expanse of solid mass.  Sometimes they never returned.

March we are lead to believe is the month to roar in like a lion.  Winds blow and kites fly.  March on the Marblehead peninsula apparently was unaware of how the month should behave.  When the calendar was flipped, the temperatures never rose above ten degrees.  The ice in the lake still clung to the rocky shores.  The lighthouse log book recorded nothing for the beginning of March, other then the state of the weather.  Yet, quickly and silently, winter left the shores of Marblehead.  The lion had not only ceased roaring, it had left the peninsula.  The days melted the ice and snow with suddenly warmer temperatures.  By the middle of March, keeper Hunter recorded the United States Life Saving Service went into commission.  He received orders to activate the Marblehead light.  Life was beginning to return to the peninsula and Lake Erie.  The Marblehead light was turned on using the “no. 4 burner”.  The first of the ships and boats were now running on the lake.  Spring had finally returned to the inland sea and the Marblehead peninsula.

April showers bring Mayflowers.  At the foot of the Great Lake, the snow now turned to rain.  The activities of the lighthouse keepers included preparations for survival. Heavy rains made this activity difficult.  Food must be grown and supplemented for the rations the government supplied the keepers.  With the winter months behind them, Edward and Charles began making their vegetable gardens.  The crops grown would be prepared for storage to sustain them over the long winter.  Plants were taken in at the start of winter to be nourished until replanted in the spring.  The cellar became a place for root storage.  And, sometimes it stored the retrieved dead until the frozen winter ground thawed for burial. 

In addition to preparing the vegetable gardens, the grounds must be cleaned up from winter’s debris.  The ice often pushed in huge blocks, many feet thick to the sides of the lighthouse.  More then a few times, ice piled halfway up the light.  When it did, the ice acted like a glacier, moving rocks and stones about like paper confetti.  Tree limbs suffered damage and were strewn about the lighthouse grounds like so many pick-up sticks.  April was not only the beginning of the navigational season. It was also the clean-up season for the keepers. This had been done during the month of April for as long as the log books were kept.  

Ships and lighthouses both shared the same environment and both suffered from its effects; water.  The lighthouses located on fresh water fared somewhat better then their saltwater cousins.  Yet, both could easily succumb in a short period of time to the ravages of the constant dampness.  Ships needed to be painted, cleaned and maintained on a scheduled basis for a long life of sailing.  Lighthouses and keeper’s residences also needed to be painted, cleaned and maintained on a regular basis for a long life of service.  Unlike ships, which are dry-docked, sometimes for an entire winter season, lighthouses were exposed constantly to all weather conditions.  Snow, sleet, ice and the constant lake breezes, sometimes turning into gale force winds battered both lighthouses and residences year round.   Lighthouse keepers did not have the luxury of isolating the tower for general maintenance.   When the weather warmed, the keepers carried out the tedious job of repairing and painting the residence, the lighthouse and everything else connected to the grounds that could rot away.  This yearly activity had to be performed in addition to maintaining the light, keeping the log books, filling out the reports and performing rescues.  It was also squeezed in between the visits of the lighthouse tenders and the tourists. 

Edward learned the month of May at the new lighthouse meant the beginning of an endless round of painting and whitewashing.  The tasks kept the keepers busy all through the summer months into early fall.  May this year of 1914 also meant a new national celebration.  Mother’s Day was now an official American holiday.    Started by a woman named Ann Jarvis, the first unofficial Mother’s Day was begun as a way of healing the pain of the Civil War.  Mrs. Jarvis devoted her life to procuring the event as a national holiday.  The first official Mother’s Day was held in 1908 at Andrews Methodist Church with over four hundred in attendance.  Ann Jarvis sent five hundred white carnations to be worn by those attending the service.  The idea was so well received, by 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother’s Day should be celebrated the second Sunday in May, a national holiday.  Groups of tourists celebrating the first National Mother’s Day arrived at the lighthouse, beginning a tradition that continued for the next thirty years.  Only war and the closing of the lighthouse grounds to the public interrupted the yearly event.  It must have been a difficult holiday for keeper Hunter to record in the log books.  His mother, Jane Hunter, had only been dead for twenty months.

The month of May and the new national holiday welcomed not only the arrival of tourists, but also a new life saving boat.  As the navigation season began to witness increasing ship traffic, the new life saving boat was soon put to use.  Edward’s ability to perform rescues was given an early baptism when a launch went ashore near the lighthouse.  Unlike the Buffalo shoreline, Marblehead peninsula was jutted with rocky out cropping, making it difficult to get from the shore to the boat.  In good weather, the rock posed a hazard from the constant wave action.  In bad weather, the rocks not only were wet, they were slippery and rough waves made launching any vessel difficult. 

After the Mother’s Day holiday, the routine of painting began in earnest.  The lantern room was painted followed by the watch room.  Both activities took up most of the month.  When the light tower was completed the wooden flagpole was painted, and if needed, the keepers were responsible for making a new pole.  Even the essential wheelbarrow was dutifully painted.

June’s pace was stepped up in order to take advantage of the warmer weather.  In addition to painting, the brass in the tower had to be polished.  This was a constant activity; the lake water caused tarnishing almost immediately after finishing the polishing.  When that task was completed, the painting resumed.  The top of the lighthouse, the landing of the lighthouse, the boathouse and even the clothes poles were whitewashed.  Next was the keeper’s residence.  The porches received two coats of paint.  Finally, it was time to put up the screens in the tower.  Some years, the peninsula experienced a horrible infestation of mayflies.  Hours and sometimes days were spent cleaning the flies out of the tower and the light before it could be exhibited for the navigational season. 

Since 1821, long before the automobile necessitated paved roads, horse and buggy traversed the long winding lane to the lighthouse.  The keepers were responsible for the construction and maintenance of the roadway.  This was an end of the month task for June.   Both Charles and Edward worked on grading the lane to the lighthouse.  When the project was complete, Charles wrote in the log book, “in five days we did 50 wagon loads of stone and dirt”.  Margaret no doubt, did not appreciate the extra wash load of the lighthouse keeper’s uniform and dirty, soiled shirts.

The summer months introduced Edward to Marblehead’s recreational lake traffic.  The boats and ships navigating the waterways around the peninsula had their own mishaps.  Some days seemed much the same as the Buffalo harbor, only without the pollution.  However, the new place had its own distinct set of tragedies.  Some occurred when the lake froze, some occurred in the midst of the busy tourist season and some occurred just because it was a potential disaster waiting to happen.  With Cedar Point recreational area close to the lighthouse, the potential for serious disasters remained always present.  Ferries transported large numbers of families across the bay to spend a day’s outing at the amusement park.  Then there was Lakeside and the summer communities their programs drew to the area.  There were dances at the Lakeside dance hall.  Boaters flocked to the long pier launching the new motor boats.  Swimmers and sunbathers crowded the shores and the docks.  People fished and played while the lighthouse keepers and the Life Saving Station crew watched and stood ready to perform rescues. 

July was one of those months that made Edward think he had never left the Buffalo harbor.  It was also a month producing an omen of things to come.   This event would shatter their placid world four years later.  The first of July keeper Hunter reported a fire at Put-In-Bay dock.  There is no record of any involvement of the keepers. Then the hotel at the dock caught fire and burned.  Eight days later a launch caught fire at the sand bar.  Clearing the bay of the vessel was necessary for the Regatta taking place in Put-In-Bay. Many boats filled the bay, a popular activity and one, which Edward was familiar with having attended numerous events when sailing on the Morrill.  When the activities around the area finally slowed giving the keepers a slight respite, Charles Hunter took a rare Saturday off to go fishing. 

Charles Hunter recorded the omen of things to come in the lighthouse log books at the end of July.  “Austria,” he wrote, “declares war against Serbia, backed up by Germany”.  Little did he know this was not to be the last of the war entries.

The last week in July was followed by more war news beginning with the first week in August.  Once again, keeper Hunter reported, “War started in Austria, Belgium, England, France and Germany”.  Two days later he recorded President Wilson’s “wife died”.  Although the summer months were winding down, national and world events were not.  War clouds were gathering on the European continent and suddenly they broke into the storm of the century.  Soon, being German was going to have a very big impact on Edward and his wife Margaret. 

Another steamer was reported broken down.  This time it was the steamer Arrow and it did include the services of the lighthouse keepers. 

While war was raging in Europe, the keepers at the lighthouse were getting ready for the long winter months.  Preparations needed to be started in August and must be into full swing by the month of September.  Winter on the peninsula could never be predicted.  Some years October brought snow, some years the snows did not fall until later in December.  If preparations were delayed, the keepers could not catch up and this spelled a potential disaster for their very survival. 

Once again, the ball bearings were oiled, the oil reservoir cleaned and then after Labor Day, the pace of preparations moved into full gear.  The ball bearings and the oil reservoir were cleaned several times throughout the month.  The yard and the lighthouse grounds were being cleaned of the summer debris.  The gate was repaired and the lawn mowed.  And, wood was cut.  Wood was needed for cooking and heating.  Every day the keepers cut wood to stack for the coming winter.  It was a never ceasing activity and one, which required good physical strength.  Supplies needed to be picked up and keeper Charles left for Toledo, confident that the new assistant was able to handle any situation should the need arise.  Shortly after his departure, the lighthouse grounds hosted Field Day.  It was recorded without mishaps. 

While Edward continued to make the necessary fall and pre-winter preparations, Margaret made her own preparations.  She left the Marblehead peninsula for Detroit.   Margaret’s departure was a trip filled with visits to friends and the church she had known in Detroit.  Her sister also came in from Hudson to spend time with Margaret.  In a postcard sent to Edward she writes, “Dear ED,  Have Been out this P.M. to call on Mr. Gibson.  We are going to church this evening.  All are well.  It is so very cold here.  Matie had a four hour wait at the train station yesterday so she did not get here until three o’clock or after.  We are going up in the city tomorrow.  Love from all, Margaret.”  Her postcard, upbeat and cheerful reflected Margaret’s contented happiness in her new surroundings.  One month later, to the exact day, another postcard was written and sent to the Marblehead Lighthouse.  For Edward, its message would be neither lively or upbeat.  It was a heart breaking post that stayed with him until the day he died.

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“Even if I knew that the world would
Go to pieces, I would still
Plant my apple tree.”
Martin Luther


October winds signaled a change.  Perhaps they also signaled an omen of the tragedy to come.  September had been cold, at least for Margaret visiting her friends in Detroit.  Now, as so often was the case in this part of the country, Indian summer was gently blanketing the peninsula with sunshine and pleasant temperatures.  The thermometer reached sixty-degrees and higher for many of October’s days.  However, the winds, gentle, light and fresh, swirling from the south, southeast began suddenly to prevail mostly from the northeast.  Activities at the lighthouse continued preparing for the coming winter.  Both keepers cut wood, working at a steady pace and taking advantage of the warm fall days.  The Lighthouse Service was also preparing for the coming winter months.  Charles Hunter recorded the arrival of 14 tons of anthracite coal for the keeper’s residence during the month of October.  The keepers began to take in the plants and prepare the cellar’s root storage.  In addition to the plants, the several apple trees gracing the lighthouse grounds were starting to share their cherry red bounty with the occupants of the land.  The keepers when not repairing, oiling, polishing, and cleaning up the grounds, were now picking apples.  The crisp, juicy fruit would be made into juice, pies, and jelly and packed for winter storage in the root cellar.  If packed well, the keepers could have fresh apples long after the navigational season had ended.

Margaret had returned to Marblehead after her visit the previous month to Detroit.  While Edward and Charles picked apples, Margaret busied herself with the canning and jelly making.  The warm weather and sunshine reminded everyone to take advantage of the season’s gift before the winds prevailed completely from the north, northeast.  Life it now seemed was good for the two keepers and especially for Margaret.

The same could not be said about the events unfolding in Tonawanda, NY.  Esther was sitting at her desk writing to Edward.  Her eyes were not focused on the warm western New York Indian summer, or the crimson reds and waxy yellow leaves drifting aimlessly across the windowpane.

Esther Hermann at age twenty-two married Otto, a German born carpenter.  She was Edward’s younger sister, born in 1881 and named after her older deceased sister, Esther Mathilda.  This Esther was gentle, kind and beautiful.  She also wanted a child very, very much.  Otto was handsome and some might surmise slightly resembled her older brother, Edward.  The newly wedded couple posed for their wedding photograph; she dressed in delicate lace and veil captured in a wreath of flowers and he a dark suit holding a sprig of flower to compliment her bouquet.  Their wedding day marked a joyous occasion and a future full of children. 

It did not turn out the way Esther envisioned.  Otto’s carpentry business did well.  They could afford to move into a large home in the wealthier North Tonawanda.  Beautiful Esther and handsome Otto waited for what to them seemed an eternity until finally, nine years into their marriage, Esther learned she was pregnant.  She was thirty-one years old.

When Violet Esther Zastrow was born, her name was dutifully recorded into the pages of the family bible.  Esther and Otto had a studio photograph taken with their baby, most likely to commemorate the day of her baptism.  When Violet was baptized, Esther knew immediately who one of the sponsors would be, her beloved older brother, Edward.  Even if he could not attend the event, he could be there by proxy.  This was also recorded in the family bible.  Edward was a lighthouse keeper.  His guiding light she hoped would be a beacon for her new daughter. 

Violet was tiny.  She had the same delicate features of her mother.  Her eyes were wide and searching.  They looked deep into the soul of the beholder with a sadness that spoke about death and despair, not joy and happiness.  Her face seemed wise beyond her two years of age.  It was as though she knew what fate held for her.  The last photograph taken told the world and future generations.  Dressed in a little fur coat and hat, she stood not like her aunt Margaret many years before, but instead, woefully silent.  A silence kept still with the whisper of her tiny last breath to tell a secret. A tragedy was soon to wrap its arms around Violet.

Now her mother sat at her writing table in a large house on a warm October day waiting.  And, while waiting she wrote. Her tiny daughter lay ill and dying.  Esther was writing to the one person she knew saved lives, Violet’s godfather, the lighthouse keeper. Her postcard was hastily scribbled, not in the sepia toned inks of a pen, but in the delicate calligraphy of a pencil.  Despairingly she wrote,

“1914 October 9

Mr. & Mrs. Edw Herman
Marblehead Light Sta.
Marblehead Ohio

Dear Brother and Sis

We expect Dr. Koenig and his wife from Buffalo any min.
If they can’t help her we will have to give up all hopes.
Will write again.  Your sis Esther”

Then as an aside, as though remembering only briefly, “received your letter asking….”  The sentence was never finished; the postcard mailed the same day it was written arrived at the lighthouse a few days later.

When Edward collected the mail on that warm fall day in October, the postcard’s picture reminded him of the place he had left. The quickly penciled heart wrenching message also told him of the despair his sister faced as she waited for the doctor‘s arrival.  What Edward did not know when he read the postcard; his delicate little goddaughter was already dead.  Violet died the following day, the day after Esther posted her card to her brother, the lighthouse keeper. 

Once again, a name and the date of death was entered into the family bible, “Violet Esther Zastrow October 10, 1914.”  Esther Zastrow never had another child.  Instead, her life was a tragic reminder of what happens when the cruel fate’s hand knocks on the door of our lives.  The happy marriage and the beautiful baby were now just the pictures in photographs.  Otto, slowly succumbed to his grief, year by year.  Consumed by grief’s tenacity that poisoned the mind with reminders of his daughter’s short life, he was eventually over-whelmed by those memories.  And then, sixteen years later on October 16th , Edward’s sister Esther was dead at age forty-nine from complications of a stroke having never fully recovered from Violet‘s death.  Another name mourned, then penned in ink and added to the ever-growing pages, “Esther (Herman) Zastrow October 16, 1930”.  Otto lived another twelve years until May 22, 1940, dying at age sixty-one.  His death was never recorded in the Herman family bible. (Violet died from typhoid fever. During the months of October and November 1914 North Tonawanda experienced an outbreak of typhoid fever. It was considered to be almost epidemic. The city received its drinking water from the Niagara River. The city of Buffalo, sitting above North Tonawanda emptied their raw sewage into the water. It was thought this might have been the source of the outbreak. Violet's contraction of typhoid fever was played out in articles published in the North Tonawanda Evening Newspaper. Her death could have been avoided had the city taken measures available to prevent out breaks of typhoid. The technology had been developed. For only a cost of $300 a chlorinating device could have been installed. After her death, the city installed the device to insure safe drinking water for its citizens.)

One year after Edward arrived at the Marblehead peninsula, he did something the head keeper, Charles Hunter recorded in the lighthouse log book for October’s end.  Three weeks after Violet’s death he planted six apple trees.   For Violet Zastrow, Alfred, and Mary Hermann and for Thomas Belchor, and Samuel King, Margaret’s brothers.  The sixth tree may have been planted in memory of two mothers, Lucinda Belchor King and Jane Hunter.  Perhaps Charles Hunter did not know why Edward planted the apple trees or who they were to remember.  On the other hand, perhaps he could not bear to write them down.  The names were never recorded in the log book.  However, these were not the only trees keeper Herman planted on the Marblehead Lighthouse grounds.  Several years later, he planted another tree.  This time Charles Hunter would record in the lighthouse log books both the name and the reason for its planting. (Edward's cousin, Louis J. Herman, killed on August 13,1918 during the Great War was buried in Flanders Field. His father, John Herman was one of Edward's baptismal sponsors. Edward was recorded by keeper Hunter in the log books as having planted a walnut tree in his cousin's memory. The walnut tree is still in existence on the lighthouse grounds.)

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There were only two months left before Edward’s first year at his second lighthouse was completed.  After planting his six apple trees, the month of October ended.  November was the start of the last two months before the close of the 1914 navigational season.  The lovely Indian summer weather of the previous month slipped into the first week of the new month.  Then, suddenly temperatures turned chilly and finally cold.  By the middle of November, the thermometer read in the 30’s.  Edward lit his baseburner.  Election Day was duly noted in the logbooks.  Whether the head keeper or the assistant keeper voted was not recorded.  The steamer Frank Kirby made its last trip of the season.  Life on the Great Lake was winding down. 

Things did not always run so smoothly at the lighthouse.  The keepers were renaissance men, jack-of-all trades and could fix most every problem that arose.  Much to the annoyance of keeper Hunter the float on the lamp over-flowed.  It made quite a mess and the two of them were kept busy cleaning up the spillage.  The problem the keeper reported was soon corrected. 

Again, the ball bearings were oiled.  The weather remained cold, yet not cold enough to deter the keepers from cleaning out the channel in front of the boat house.  Thanksgiving Day, keeper Hunter recorded, was a nice fall day.  The last week of November experienced another brief Indian summer.  The temperatures warmed up to the 40’s and then the 50’s.  Not to be lulled into false pretenses, the steamers new better then to believe the fickle lake weather. They began laying up for the season and with good reason.  Winter would surely come to the Marblehead peninsula and when it did, they were ready. 

December 1914 rolled in just as the heavy fog smothered the lake and the land.  It was dense and it was dangerous.  Ships could not see the light if the fog was really thick.  That spelled disaster for mariners.  Lucky for the ships, the sailors and the keepers no marine tragedies were recorded during the foggy weather.  By day the keepers continued to clean up the yard.  They also received ten gallons of oil for the keeper’s dwelling.  The tender Crocus began taking up stakes and buoys before the weather became inclement.  It was a good thing the crew began their tasks now.  December was going to be a difficult month for the tender, the Life Saving Station and the Marblehead Lighthouse keepers. 

The horrendous weather started on a Sunday.  Charles Hunter reported the rain began on Sunday and, “it rained all day and night’.  The temperature remained steady at about 38 degrees.  The rain became heavier and heavier, until it finally succeeded in washing over the Life Saving Station tower.  When the rain had played enough havoc over the Marblehead peninsula, it turned into snow.  The snow became a blizzard.  Two weeks before Christmas temperatures plummeted to 0 degrees, and then 2-5-3-0 degrees along with the heavy snow. 

While the residents could snuggle in warm houses with cozy fires to wait out the blizzard, one ship and a crew could not.  There was a problem and this time it was one of their own.  The Crocus was in trouble.  The storm caught the tender in transit before she was able to make her final destination.  If the ship did not get back to port, with these weather conditions, she was in real trouble.  The lighthouse keepers received a telegram in the morning from the inspector.  “Do not discontinue the light” the telegram urgently posted, “exhibit the light until the Crocus passes by”.  Despite the raging storm, the tender started out on the 18th at 6:30 a.m. trying to make it to Sandusky.  She did not get very far.  The Crocus, Charles recorded, “layed to anchor off the Life Saving Station”.  On the 19th the Crocus made it to the Lighthouse.  Again, keeper Hunter recorded, “the Crocus layed at the lighthouse all night.”  On Sunday, the tender left for Sandusky and her return was noted.  “The Crocus passed by the lighthouse at 10:15 a.m.”  Narrowly escaping disaster, the faithful light of Marblehead guided the tender Crocus to safety and an uneventful return to port.

The day before Christmas, Edward left for his thirty-day leave of absence.  On Christmas Day, Charles Hunter reported the temperature at 14 degrees and noted in the log book, “it is good skating”.  The first year of Edward’s Marblehead Lighthouse service had ended.  The next twenty-nine years and a new modern world were soon to follow.





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