The Beachcomber

Barnegat Lighthouse Keepers, 1835-1940

By DAVID BIGGY | May 24, 2019

Barnegat Light — In the days when lighthouses required keepers – before electronic automation took over during the 1900s – it was necessary that each keeper climb to the lantern room each day to clean and maintain the lanterns and reflectors, as well as each night to light the lamp, trim the wicks every four hours, replenish the oil, wind clockworks that turned the lamp, and make sure the light was burning brightly throughout the night.

Beginning around the turn of the 19th century, the president appointed keepers to their posts. In 1952, that duty was turned over to the United State Lighthouse Board, and keepers underwent a three-month probationary period before their full appointment was issued by the Secretary of the Treasury. At any time during their service, keepers could be transferred between stations and districts.

After the development of the United States Lighthouse Service in 1910, some lighthouses, including Barnegat Lighthouse, were decommissioned, but their lanterns remained lighted until automation replaced the need for oil lamps. In those instances, keepers were no longer used and the lighthouses were tended on a part-time basis by local citizens called lamplighters and lamp attendants.

During its keeper days, Barnegat Lighthouse had 20 official keepers and two lamplighters.

Henry V. Low (1835-1838, died March 12, 1838)

John H. Low (1838-1839, Henry Low’s son)

Ellen S. Low (1839, served one quarter)

Garrett H. Herring (1839-1841, removed June 15, 1841)

Jeremiah Spragg (1841-1846, removed March 12, 1846)

John Allen (1846-1849, removed Nov. 13, 1849)

John Warren (1849-1851)

Charles Collins (1851-1853)

Joseph H. Townsend (1853-1854)

James Fuller (1854-1861, transitioned from first lighthouse to temporary wooden tower, then to current lighthouse)

Hiram M. Horner (1861-1862)

A.B. Brown (1862-1866)

John Kelley (1866-1873, removed Oct. 22, 1873)

William C. Yates (1873-1875, transferred Oct. 9, 1875)

Joshua H. Reeves (1875-1885, transferred Oct. 20, 1885)

Thomas Bills (1885-1896, transferred Oct. 1, 1896)

Abraham G. Wolf (1896, appointment cancelled Dec. 2, 1896)

W.T. Woodmansee (1896-1915)

Clarence H. Cranmer (1915-1926)

Andrew E. Applegate (1926-1928, last official keeper)

Robert E. Applegate (1928-1932, lamplighter)

William E. Rothas (1932-1940, lamplighter)

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