Sheffield Island Lighthouse archive






Sheffield Island Lighthouse’s first keeper, Gershom Smith and his wife, Temperance






In 1818, Gershom Smith bought what is now Sheffield Island from his father. He then sold three acres to the government for them to build a lighthouse on. Smith was lightkeeper from 1827 through 1845, when political tensions forced him out of his position. Smith was openly opposed to President John Tyler being in office and at that time, job security of lighthouse keepers was subject to political winds.

Smith was replaced by Lewis Whitlock, who possessed no qualifications to manage a lighthouse but who supported Tyler during his Presidency. Whitlock lived in the lighthouse alone. An 1850 inspection of the lighthouse, including observations on Whitlock, reported:

“Lantern apparatus was clean, and so was everything in and about the light-house; lamps are in good burning order, but the reflectors are poor… Keeper is alone, entirely so, and everything he has in the house is out of fix; nothing is done right; nothing is as it should be. Poor man, and miserable, and will continue so without a wife.”