A Lovely Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter

Posted July 3, 2019 at 5:52 am by

Here’s the month­ly His­to­ry Col­umn for July from San Juan His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety and Museum… 

In this Cen­ten­ni­al year for the Lime Kiln Point Light­house, let’s fast for­ward from its open­ing in 1919 to Octo­ber of 1935.

This is when light­house keep­er Arvel Set­tles arrived from his assign­ment in West­port, Wash­ing­ton to start the next phase of his career at the Lime Kiln Point sta­tion. He and his fam­i­ly set­tled into the light­house keeper’s house on the left, pic­tured here and stand­ing today at Lime Kiln Point State Park.

The three bed­room house was quite cozy, as they say, with wife Hel­ga, five chil­dren (Jack, Eve­lyn, Eleanor, Charles, Agnes) and Helga’s moth­er, Hilma Lindquist. Also pic­tured here is Agnes Set­tles in the rose gar­den at the front of the house.

Born at the West­port light sta­tion in 1931, she is our Light­house Keeper’s Daugh­ter. Her sis­ters and oth­er daugh­ters of light­house keep­ers can right­ful­ly claim the title as well, but it’s this pho­to we have of Agnes in the ros­es that helps tell the sto­ry of this spe­cial place.

Hel­ga Set­tles recalled that the ros­es, plant­ed by a pre­vi­ous res­i­dent, were still bloom­ing the Octo­ber day she and her fam­i­ly arrived for what was to be a sev­en year assign­ment until Arvel retired from the Light­house Ser­vice in 1942. Dur­ing their time at Lime Kiln Point, Arvel paid his chil­dren ten cents to wind up the weights that kept the lens revolv­ing for the light­house lantern. (There was also an assis­tant light­house keep­er, with an alter­nate 12-hour shift, sev­en days a week.)

Hel­ga tend­ed a large veg­etable gar­den and cooked on a wood­stove. The Set­tles’ home was illu­mi­nat­ed at night with oil lamps as elec­tric­i­ty from the main­land did not come to the light sta­tion until 1951. Since we can see a pow­er pole in the low­er right cor­ner of the pho­to, we can date this image of the hous­es to the ear­ly 1950s. 

Some­thing else we can see in this vin­tage pho­to is that it was orig­i­nal­ly mis­la­beled as “Oceano­graph­ic Lab­o­ra­to­ries – Fri­day Har­bor.” Indeed, it is not. The dig­i­tized image of this pho­to is cor­rect­ly labeled in the archival image col­lec­tion of the San Juan His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety and Muse­um. We are grate­ful for research vol­un­teers who are impor­tant keep­ers of his­to­ry — the accu­rate kind.

After 1942 the Set­tles fam­i­ly lived in town, Agnes grad­u­at­ed from Fri­day Har­bor High School in the Class of 1950, mar­ried Nor­man Mur­ray, and raised five chil­dren on the island. Agnes shared her fond mem­o­ries of a sea­side child­hood at the light­house with fam­i­ly and friends all her life. Anoth­er love­ly pho­to­graph of Agnes may be seen in her 2015 obit­u­ary in the San Juan Jour­nal here. We thank the Mur­ray fam­i­ly for shar­ing pho­tographs and mem­o­ries so dear to Agnes’ heart.

You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.

Categories: History, People
One comment:

One comment...

  1. Thanks for post­ing this, Tim. Hap­py 100 to our light­house! May it for­ev­er beam!

    Comment by Shaun Hubbard on July 3, 2019 at 10:00 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0