Thursday, January 7, 2021

Minutia: A Little This & That

Happy New Year to all, and especially to those who love lighthouses!

I ask your indulgence and forgiveness that I have made no blog posts for months. A lot has and is happening in my office and on my desk. (Including a new novel!) From the stack of things on my research table, come the following snippets. Enjoy!

From the Custom House Museum in New London, Connecticut comes this lovely fan of postcards of local landmarks, including New London Harbor Lighthouse in the center. For more info about the museum email .

From "The Beacon" newsletter of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse in California come this neat article about working in a lighthouse lantern. No author was given. The Piedras Blancas Lighthouse Association can be reached at 805.927.3719.

This is an interesting article about a pandemic not too different than Covid-19. The Point Fermin Lighthouse Society carried this in their Summer 2020 newsletter, "To the Point." Contact the group at 310.241.0612.

Here is a fun poem by Mary Lou Fourtane at Point Fermin Lighthouse, California, sharing the disappointment of a pandemic year at the lighthouse. I think most of us can relate, especially if we volunteer at lighthouse.

Looking for something to get your sweetie for Valentine's Day?

As the chair of the Education Committee for the U.S. Lighthouse Society, I have begun reaching out to kids (of any age) with some fun inserts in the society's quarterly journal, "The Keepers Log." Here is some of my handiwork free for the taking. Print it out and hand it out, or share it with your favorite kid or teacher. Squirrel it away for a rainy/snowy day when you hear "I'm bored!" Please be respectful of authorship. If you wish to share "Lighthouse Fun4Kids" in your newsletter or other publication, do give me credit. The two stories below, written by me and my cohort on the Education Committee--Cheryl Shelton Roberts--already have bylines. We truly want to get kids interested in learning about lighthouses and growing up to be a lighthouse docent or preservationist. We are thankful to Rich Gales of the U.S. Lighthouse Society for his fun and clever designs on the stories pages.

Do you know a kid who loves to draw or paint or sculpt? I have a sweet little place on the U.S. Lighthouse Society website where kids' art can be displayed. I use first names only, to protect kids' identities. If you would like to send scanned images of kids' art, I accept it at

Go to to see more kids' art. And send me those scanned images!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Welcome to the new USCG Cutter FREDERICK HATCH

I am delighted to tell you about the newest "Sentinel Class" high endurance Coast Guard cutter, the FRC 43 USCGC FREDERICK HATCH. The ship was built at Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, Louisiana. It is still getting its finishing touches in Santa Rita, Guam. In February it will cruise to Key West, where I hope to meet up with it and be introduced to the crew, then it goes to New Orleans, and finally back to Guam for its commissioning. 

I am so proud to tell you I have the honor of sponsoring the ship! I will be going to Guam next summer for the commissioning. 

The FREDERICK HATCH is named in honor of a surfman and lighthouse keeper who served in Cleveland, Ohio. Frederick Hatch (pictured above, courtesy of Door County Historical Society) served first as a surfman at the Cleveland Lifesaving Station. Later, he was appointed keeper of the Cleveland West Breakwater Lighthouse. He distinguished himself with two incredible rescues that earned him gold lifesaving medals. These were given to those who risked their own lives to save others. If my information is correct, Frederick Hatch is the only surfman, lighthouse keepers, or Coast Guard person to have two of these coveted awards.

An important fact about the naming of the Sentinel Class cutters is that they honor enlisted individuals. Frederick Hatch is in good company with a few other people lighthouse fanciers may know--Margaret Norvell of Head of Passes Lighthouse, Mississippi and Katherine Moore of Fayerweather Island Lighthouse in Connecticut.

Columnist Pattie Williamson wrote about Hatch a few years back for the Peninsula Pulse--

Frederick Hatch, the only two-time recipient of the Gold Lifesaving Medal, was awarded his first medal in December 1884 for his actions as a surfman at the Cleveland Life-Saving Station for rescuing those on board the schooner Sophia Minch. Deciding that a surfman’s job was too dangerous, he requested a new assignment. Ironically, he was awarded his second gold medal in 1891, for rescuing those on board the schooner Wahnapitae, while serving as keeper of the Cleveland Breakwater Lighthouse.

The website Maritime History of the Great Lakes has the following bio of Frederick Hatch written in 1889--

Frederick T. Hatch was born at Henderson Harbor, N. Y., in 1859, a son of Thomas and Catherine Hatch. His father was a sailor, and for a long time served as mate on the Northern line of steamers. Mr. Hatch removed with his parents while very young to Gallop Island and later to Glen Haven, Mich. He attended school at Gallop Island and Sacket's Harbor. He passed his youth on the water principally as a fisherman until the spring of 1878, when he shipped on the steamer Arabia, of the Western Transit line, remaining in that employee three years. In the spring of 1881 he entered the life-saving service at the Cleveland station, where he remained until November, 1884. On the 22nd of the same month he was appointed assistant lighthouse-keeper in the old lighthouse on Water street, Cleveland. On October 20, 1885, he was transferred to the breakwater light, and on September 15, 1895, the lights were consolidated and Mr. Hatch was placed in charge, also having control of the foghorn machinery, which was established in 1890. He now has two assistants.

Mr. Hatch is an experienced and daring life-saver, and has to his credit thirty-two rescues, independent of those he participated in while a member of the life saving crew. The greater number of these rescues were made while he had charge of the pier light. Boats would capsize, and in other ways helpless people would fall in the lake. In October, 1890, the barge Wanapota struck the breakwater and sunk in three hours. Mr. Hatch ran out to her with a rowboat, but came very near losing his own life on account of the flying timbers. His boat was capsized, but he succeeded in reaching Mrs. Hazen, wife of the captain, and swam with her to the pier. The captain, mate and three men ran across the pilework to the pier, where they remained all night, the lifeboat taking them off the next morning. The following spring Mr. Hatch received from the government an additional bar to his United States lifesaving medal. Many instances are related of his hardihood in his efforts to save life, and he never seems to grow excited or lose his presence of mind.

During the time Mr. Hatch was surfman in the Cleveland life-saving station, he participated in all the rescues of that gallant crew. In the fall of 1883 four vessels went ashore off Cleveland harbor, among them the schooner Sophia Minch. The life-saving crew went out to her on a tug, and with great difficulty and danger boarded her. The schooner was drifting so fast toward the rocks that it was found necessary to scuttle her, and she sank with her own and the life- saving crew aboard, all of the men taking to the main rigging, except two who were in the after rigging. Lawrence Distel, the only one of the crew remaining ashore, threw a line into the main rigging and took off all the men there but Mr. Hatch, who volunteered to reach the men aft. To quote from the report of Captain Goodwin: "It was literally taking his life in his hands to make the attempt. The gallant Hatch set out along the swaying gaff and reached the two men, but it was utterly impossible for him to get back, which fact he signaled to Mr. Distel, who then went ashore in the breeches boy and informed Captain Goodwin. It was then found necessary to fire another line into the rigging aft, which Mr. Hatch made fast, and as soon as everything was ready they were drawn ashore, Mr. Hatch being the sixteenth and last man off the vessel." For this dangerous rescue Mr. Hatch, as well as all the other members of the crew, received the United States gold life-saving medal of the first class.

In 1883 Mr. Hatch was united in marriage with Miss Maggie Case, of Cleveland, and their children are Frederick T., Jr., May Adella, Nellie A., and Elsie A. The family residence is at No. 43 Water street, Cleveland. Socially he is a member of Lake Shore Lodge, Knights of Pythias.

Lighthouse historian Kraig Anderson wrote the following about Frederick Hatch as a rescuer--

In 1885, Captain Fred T. Hatch, one of Cleveland’s most illustrious keepers, began serving at the lighthouse on the west breakwater. Hatch had previously served at the nearby lifesaving station and was a recipient of the U.S. Medal of Honor for lifesaving. His lifesaving skills would soon serve him well at his new job. In October 1890, during one of the windstorms that frequently threatened travelers on Lake Erie, the schooner barge Wahnapitae dragged its anchor and crashed against the breakwater near Hatch’s lighthouse.

Eight people were on board, including Captain Hazen and his wife Catherine, who was serving as cook. As the barge began to break apart, most of the crew tried to jump onto the breakwater. Three men, aided by Captain Hatch, were able to scramble one hundred feet along the breakwater and reach the safe confines of the lighthouse. Captain Hatch then leaped into a small wooden rowboat to attempt the rescue of those still stranded on the sinking barge, however, by the time he reached the battered vessel, only Catherine Hazen remained unclaimed by the water.

Kraig's webpage will help you sort out all the different light towers built at Cleveland Harbor over the years since 1829 when the first lighthouse shone over the harbor. Go here to read about them--

Below is an old postcard and an early twentieth century photo of the Cleveland Lifesaving Station, now gone. The West Breakwater Lighthouse stands in the background.

The photo above shows the surfmen of the Cleveland Lifesaving Station wearing their cork life vests. These were the precursors to today's life preservers. The men also were dressed in oilskins to keep them dry. The year of the photo is not known.

Above is a National Archives drawing of the lighthouse kept by Frederick Hatch beginning in 1885. It is gone now. Cleveland Harbor has undergone much change over the years. 

The lighthouse below is the one most people know as the Cleveland Breakwater Lighthouse, built in 1910, long after Hatch's service in Cleveland. It is famous for its winter ice. (Ice photo by Mike Kline)

To learn more about the Coast Guard's Sentinel Class cutters, go here:

The USCG cutter FREDERICK HATCH has a Facebook page. Please visit it and "like" the page. Share it too! Thanks. FrederickHatch/

P.S. I apologize for the long duration between posts of late. I have been battling a bad arthritic shoulder and living from cortisone shot to cortisone shot. It makes typing a painful chore. Thanks for your indulgence.  Best, Elinor

Thursday, July 30, 2020

National Lighthouse Museum

Greetings Blog Readers and Lighthouse Fans,

In this time of pandemic, many of our lighthouse groups and museums are suffering. Please support them with small donations (or large ones).

One museum that definitely needs help is the National Lighthouse Museum at Staten Island, New York. Please send them donations, buy products from their website, and when possible, attend their tours. We've heard the Princess Royal of England (Princess Anne) will pay the museum a visit when it's safe to do so. How exciting is that??!! She is a great fan of lighthouses and supporter of the Northern Lighthouse Board of Scotland and Trinity House, the UK's lighthouse authority. We are proud to have her visit our national lighthouse museum.

Sign up for the National Lighthouse Museum's newsletters. They are fun, informative, and now have profiles of United States lighthouses in each issue. I love them and look forward to reading each one. They are very well done!

Here's a sample, saved from my Google docs acct. Click on it and then click on the docs address it brings up. Can you guess which lighthouse is profiled from the picture I've posted?

National Lighthouse Museum lighthouse article

Contact the National Lighthouse Museum at--

National Lighthouse Museum
200 The Promenade at Lighthouse Point
Staten Island, NY 10301-0296

Call 718-390-0040

Coast Guard Photo

From 1898 Scientific American Magazine