another lighthouse

2.8.22 ~ Stonington Harbor Light

The ground was pretty soggy from melting snow and days of rain so we decided to take a walk in the village of Stonington Borough, rather than traipse through the muddy woods. I visited this lighthouse many years ago with my sister-in-law and climbed the very narrow circular stairs up the tower to the lantern room on the top. The view was wonderful. There wasn’t much space to move around or stretch out, though!

The Stonington Harbor Light is a historic lighthouse built in 1840 and located on the east side of Stonington Harbor in the Borough of Stonington, Connecticut. It is a well-preserved example of a mid-19th century stone lighthouse. The light was taken out of service in 1889 and now serves as a local history museum. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
~ Wikipedia

The Stonington Harbor Light is located at the southern end of Stonington Point, marking the eastern side of Stonington Harbor. The light station consists of the tower and keeper’s house; both are built out of large granite blocks, and the keeper’s house has a wood-framed ell attached. The tower is an octagonal stone structure 35 feet (11 m) in height and 10 feet (3.0 m) in diameter, with a circular glass lantern house on top. The house is 1½ stories and about 30 feet (9.1 m) square.
~ Wikipedia

leftover Christmas wreath above the door

The promise of a water view behind the lighthouse lured us around the back and across the spongy lawn. How nice to see a bench there. Looks like a nice spot to enjoy a warm spring day. But no sitting for us on this wet day!

the back of the lighthouse

There were lots of sparrows chirping and flitting about, making it feel like a spring day. We found a sundial in a corner of the yard but it was too cloudy out for the sun to tell us the time. It might have been accurate, too, because we are not in daylight savings time. I wish they would do away with the time change. We’re only under “real” time for about four months out of the twelve…

small sundial
gray skies to the east

Looking west on our way down to Stonington Point we saw a moment of blue sky! From the end of the Stonington Borough peninsula one can see two lighthouses in two different states.

Latimer Reef Light
Fishers Island, New York

Latimer Reef Lighthouse, which was placed on the western end of the half-mile-long rocky reef, consists of a prefabricated, cylindrical, forty-nine foot-tall, cast-iron tower with a cast-iron, concrete-filled foundation. … There were a number of other lights built around this time using the same design and employing the same construction methods. They were initially referred to as “Coffee Pot” lights because of their shape, but a few decades later, after the internal combustion engine was in common use, these towers became more commonly known as “Spark Plug” lighthouses.
~ website

A good portion of the parking lot at the point was still covered with the snow deposited there from the blizzard. It blocked a lot of the views! But in the distance between these mounds (above) I spotted Watch Hill Light, which we visited in October. So I walked across the waterlogged lawn area and used my zoom lens to get a picture of it from Stonington Point. (below)

Watch Hill Light
Watch Hill, Westerly, Rhode Island

Our plan to keep our shoes dry failed completely! But at least they were less mucky than they would have been had we gone for a walk in the woods.

winter at Stonington Point

Years ago I used to be a member of the Stonington Historical Society but discontinued my membership when paying the dues didn’t fit in our budget. But it was there that I found a letter written to the Society by my great-grandmother in a file. Emma Flora Atwood was asking them if they had any information about her husband’s parents, William Martin White and Ellen C. Hill, who lived in Old Mystic, another village in Stonington. I don’t know what their reply might have been, but the folder had little else in it. It was exciting to handle a piece of paper that she had touched, too. I like to think my great-grandmother was as interested in family history as I am. She was my mother’s Grammy and that’s why I wanted to be Grammy to my grandchildren. ♡

The other thing I learned while I was getting the Society’s newsletter, was about my 2nd-great-granduncle, Pvt. Rufus C. White, brother of my 2nd-great-grandfather, William M. White, mentioned above.

Rufus C. White, born 6 June 1839, died 16 May 1864, age 24, at Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia. Rufus served as a private in the Union Army, Company E, 21st Infantry Regiment, Connecticut and was killed at the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff. In the 1860 census, Rufus was recorded as a farmer with a personal estate of $100.

The following is from Stonington’s Forgotten Heroes of 1861-65 by James Boylan:

The second large Stonington unit was Company E of the 21st Infantry Regiment, which was recruited in the summer of 1862 from eastern Connecticut. About seventy Stonington men served in Company E, under Captain Charles T. Stanton, Jr., of Stonington. Like Company G of the Eighth, this company became involved in the fogbound battle of Drewry’s Bluff, in which Stanton was severely wounded, and the siege of Petersburg, where Captain Henry R. Jennings of Stonington was wounded. Partly because its term of service was shorter, it suffered fewer casualties.

And there was another pleasant memory, which Tim & I recalled as we passed the Society’s Captain Palmer House Museum on our way home. It must have been in the early 2000s, when I read with great interest, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick. I am distantly related to some of the sailors he wrote about on that ill-fated voyage. Imagine how excited I was to attend a lecture he gave about his book at the museum. Tim and Larisa came with me and we had a brief conversation with him afterwards.

36 thoughts on “another lighthouse”

  1. Your photos of the lighthouses are beautiful, wistful even. The Stonington Lighthouse calls to me. Rufus died so young. Many men did, but it seems heartbreaking to my modern sensibilities.

    I like your idea that your great-grandmother was interested in family history. That’s something upon which I need to muse. I’ve never contemplated the thought that an ancestor was looking back to their ancestors, and that I’m following a family tradition of sorts.

    1. Thank you, Ally. The weather and setting almost felt like a BBC English drama setting… I know what you mean about Rufus. Tim & I actually went to Drewry’s Bluff back in 2000 to see where the battle that took his young life happened.

      Tim’s great-grandmother also did a lot of research, which his grandmother handed over to me because she didn’t have the inclination to deal with it. What was a burden for her was a treasure trove for me!

  2. I love lighthouses. Thanks for this post and all the great photos. This lighthouse is close to the ground, but so cute. Thanks for the historu lesson.

    1. You’re welcome, Peggy. It is a sweet little lighthouse. I hope to go back when it’s open and climb up to the the lantern house on the top and take some pictures.

  3. Such a beautiful lighthouse. I was wondering about the lack of snow, though, until you mentioned the parking lot. It feels strange to see grass, as if it was spring.

    1. The blizzard blew the snow around in huge drifts so that some areas had almost bare ground after the storm ended. It’s been melting pretty quickly for several days now and does feel like spring here. We’re supposed to get to 50° today!

  4. I love the Christmas wreath at the lighthouse — it’s so very sea-worthy, with its starfish and lamp! Looks like a good way to spend a rather dreary day, though I’m not sure you’d have ended up with shoes any muddier had you walked in the woods!

    1. I thought it was interesting, too, how they positioned the wreath above the door and around the lamp instead of on the door. It’s a pretty mix of nautical and woodsy elements. Well, at least walking on the grass was more spongy than sliding across a muddy path in the woods would have been. 😉

    1. I seem to remember some controversy generated over the modern house built right next to this lighthouse. It blocks the view of the water from the lantern house. 🙁

  5. That was smart to head for the lighthouse venue rather than the woods! …snow melt…

    Good walking, some slushing, stair climbing. I hope that the wide open spaces helped for an escape from cabin fever. I enjoyed your history writing, ancestry stories, as well as your photography.

    I got the goosebumps thinking about you finding a letter written to the Society by your great-grandmother, your great-Grammy. Was she still living when you were a child?

    1. Thank you, TD! The outing was indeed a great break from our cabin fever!

      It was quite a thrill to touch my great-grandmother’s handwritten letter and to see her penmanship. I’d like to go back some day and take a picture of the letter now that I have a camera or even to use my cell phone camera. Emma Flora died two years before I was born, but my mother always spoke so fondly of her Grammy and my grandfather also had fond memories of his mother. He told me she knit him a new pair of mittens every winter and had a red peony in her garden that she treasured.

      I knew another great-grandmother, though, Mum (Amanda Eliza). She died when I was nine years old and I knew her well. She suffered from dementia and was the only person in my world who knew that my doll was “real” and gave me all kinds of advice on caring for her. 😉 Her husband was a sea captain and after he died she kept anxiously asking where he was. The only thing my grandmother could say to calm her down was that he was out to sea. I remember asking my grandmother why she told her that and then I learned a lesson in compassion and kindness.

    1. Thank you, Donna! That weathered pine seemed so brave standing alone on the beach ~ I can only imagine how it holds up to the wind during a storm. I’m sure it’s been surrounded by sea water during a storm surge as well.

  6. Another interesting walk! Very cool that you found the old letter. So many people have no record or knowledge of their family histories. I’m indebted to my aunt who did extensive research on my father’s family. She self-published a book that I’m grateful to have. (My great-great grandfather left New Haven, CT to settle in western NC. If you come across the Tuttle name in your research, let me know!)

    1. No Tuttles so far, Anna! So you have Connecticut roots, too. A lot of retired people get interested in family history when they have more time on their hands. When I was in my 30s my husband, father and I went to a genealogy conference and was surprised to see that most of the people were there were “old.” There was another man about my age there and we had lunch with him. Very few people are interested when they are young. My recently retired cousin got interested in my father’s Ukrainian ancestry and has found a lot of information, much to my delight! At last, someone in the family to share with. 🙂

  7. What a great walk Barbara – very picturesque and full of history as well. You were lucky to get to this lighthouse. Our only lighthouse around my area is only open one day a year. My first lighthouse tour and I was wobbly kneed after coming down the narrow steps – steep steps with no rail and dark wood … they were trying to keep it authentic. Hope the wet feet was closer to the end of the trek. I hate when you have wet feet and have miles to go.

    1. Thank you, Linda! I remember your local lighthouse post. 🙂 We have so many of them around here. Three times we have taken a 2-hour lighthouse cruise which is wonderful because it takes you very close to the lighthouses and the boat spins around so everyone on the ferry can get a good view. But if you stay inside the pictures through the glass come out terrible. We tried going up to the open air deck but that was so crowded we couldn’t get to the edge to take pictures. And I’m short so I couldn’t take pictures above people’s heads. Wish I could figure out a way to be pushy and get up there first and grab a spot by the railing.

      1. Yes, inside the boat is not always good with the windows. I took a couple of 2-hour cruises out of Lake Erie Metropark and sat at the back as it was open, but I missed a lot from either side. The Captain said we could go up to the front of the boat, but I stayed as you had to go up a step and there was no railing – I can’t swim! You could ask the Captain of your boat if people could rotate at the prime viewing areas, as people will invariably stand there the entire time. [In 1982 I took a Panama Canal Cruise and the day we went through the Canal I was up at the crack of dawn to get a good viewing spot to stand, but where I was in partial shade as it was very hot and I’m fair skinned, so didn’t want to burn. So I stayed there for most of the day and took my film in to be developed and the one-hour developing place lost that roll of film. I was able to get some photos from the photographer who sat at our table – he took them and no one bought them, so he just sent them to me. But I was very annoyed!]

        1. Oh my, I can relate to your annoyance at the one-hour developing place losing that special roll of film! That brought back a memory… Once when my kids were small I took great pictures of them on the Mount Washington Cog Railway and the developer lost them. I cried when I found out and my little guy (the train enthusiast who was still wearing his souvenir engineer cap, sitting there at home eating his lunch) asked me what was wrong. When I told him he said, “That’s okay Mommy, I will draw you some pictures of it.” He did and I put them in the photo album.

          1. What a sweet ending to your story Barbara. That drawing is even better than the original picture. How in the world do they lose a roll of film is beyond me. And, what happened to me is that they showed me on the stub/tear-off piece of paper they gave me when I dropped off the film, that they are not responsible for lost film – all I was entitled to was a new film cartridge. My parents used to take photos and send the film to Kodak in Rochester, New York for developing many years ago. The film was in the mail, then the pictures were returned by mail, plus a fresh roll of film – I never recall them saying anything was lost. You’re the only other person I’ve met that had that happen.

          2. That was the only time that ever happened to me. I remember at some point switching to Seattle FilmWorks on my grandmother’s recommendation, but I can’t remember if that was before or after that incident.

  8. It looks like the residence was quite large behind the lighthouse and at least the keeper did not have to go a long way to tend the lighthouse. The one in Grosse Ile had a long walkway with no rails – you and I had both remarked on how dangerous that would be. I walked it very precariously, having still had weak knees from the lighthouse stairs. I know the passageway inside the lighthouses are unusually narrow and I was told by the group of travelers from the lighthouse group that they try to keep to the original design as much as possible for aesthetic purposes For our lighthouse, it meant steep steps and dark wood panels, no lighting and windows only at the top and one narrow window going up. I was glad to be back on the island again. I like the wreath with the seashore theme with the shells – very nice. I am like you as to the time change. Just leave it alone. There is a sun dial at the Dearborn Historical Museum which I’ve taken a photo of, but not sure if it is accurate or not.

    1. I do remember you describing that precarious walkway out to the Grosse Ile lighthouse! I think lighthouse keepers need to be nimble and quick. And have eyes like a cat to see in the dark. 🙂

      1. I don’t know how they did it/do it – were I a lighthouse keeper, in bad weather, I’d have to just stay inside the lighthouse, whether it was furnished or not!

        1. Have you seen the movie The Lightkeepers with Richard Dreyfuss? It’s a romantic comedy set on Cape Cod in 1912. I have my own copy and love it. He portrays the perfect grumpy old Cape Codder.

          1. No I have not seen this movie and just looked on Amazon Prime and it is available for free. I watched the trailer and I’m going to watch it tonight. Thanks for the recommendation Barbara!

          2. I just finished “The Lightkeepers’ Barbara and I thank you for the recommendation. I really enjoyed it. I would not have recognized Richard Dreyfus as I’ve not seen him since “Jaws” – quite the twist in the end!

          3. You’re welcome, Linda, I’m so happy you enjoyed watching The Lightkeepers! Whenever I want a dose of Cape Cod scenery I pull it out and watch it again. My grandparents had a stove very much like the one pictured in Seth’s kitchen. (I never saw Jaws — I’m too sensitive to watch scary movies.)

          4. I did enjoy “The Lightkeepers” Barbara. I liked that beach and saw the shells on the beach like you photograph and also the shells near the house. I’ve seen Jaws, but the original was better than the sequels. My mom and I used to watch “Murphy’s Romance” every year – we bought it as it was a “feel good” movie and except for a few silly scenes was very enjoyable.

          5. I never heard of Murphy’s Romance, looks like I was too busy with my kids in the 1980s to keep up with new movies. I’ll have to see if I can find it.

A box for your thoughts...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.