Today's Featured Artifact is actually from our research library, although it is old enough to be its own artifact. It is the leather-bound book, Instructions and Directions to Light-House and Light-Vessel Keepers in the United States. This third edition was published in 1858 by the United States Light-House Establishment (later the United States Lighthouse Service) and this particular copy is embossed on the leather front cover that it is the property of the United States Light-House Establishment and that this particular copy belongs to the Van Wie's Point Light.
Van Wie's Point Light was a white stone beacon light located off of Van Wie's Point, which is on the West side of the Hudson River, half way between Castleton-on-Hudson and Glenmont, NY, across from Papscanee Island. It was installed in 1854 and the tower did not include keeper's quarters.
Henry Van Wie hired as keeper in 1853, presumably while the beacon was being constructed, but he was dismissed before the year was out and replaced with Herman Wendell, who served from 1853 to 1858, when he was also dismissed.
Finally, in 1858, a suitable keeper was found - William Welch (husband of Catherine Van Wie). Welch was keeper when this instruction manual arrived, writing in large, loopy script, "Rec'd August, 1860."
William Welch remained on as lighthouse keeper until his death on September 7, 1910 at age 93 - the oldest and longest-serving light keeper in Hudson River history, serving 52 years (beating Catherine Murdock by at least one, if not two years).
He was succeeded by his son, Warren Welch (who was 66 years old at the time), who served as keeper until at least 1915. Before his death in 1930, Warren Welch also served as chief engineer aboard the steamboat "Hendrick Hudson."
Van Wies Point Light was replaced with a black skeleton tower sometime in the 1930s.
Although this particular version of the lighthouse keepers instructions has not been digitized, you can read the 1881 Instructions to Light Keepers by clicking the button below.
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