Digest>Archives> March 2002

Old letters and envelopes slowly piece together history.


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As time continues to pass, more and more old documents and letters disappear or wind up in various museums and private collections across the country.

This is one of the reasons it is so difficult to tell the story behind the people that served in America’s Lighthouse Service.

Recently several hundred old documents, letters, and envelopes were donated to the American Lighthouse Foundation Museum of Lighthouse History in Wells, Maine.

As time and space permits we will publish some of them in Lighthouse Digest and they will eventually be on display in the museum. While some of them may be routine, they reflect a different way of life and help preserve this part of history.

This letter is on the stationery of “Office of U.S. Light-House Inspector, Ninth District, Chicago, Ill.” and is dated Sept 6, 1888 and appears to be addressed to Edward Scrill, Washington DC. It says:

“I was tickled to death to get your letter of the 23rd - and am writing a note to say that I have written (unreadable) for a photograph and that I expect to go home the 5th of Oct and hope to be ordered to Washington - which means expenses paid. (unreadable) very thoughtfully sent me papers with the Centennial Celebration - Have been looking for Charlie ever since he was appointed GPA but he never comes. This requires no acknowledgement. ‘Sunday writing must shock your nerves.’

Unfortunately we cannot make out the signature of who signed it. According to Scott Price of the Coast Guard Historian’s Office in Washington DC, the Lighthouse Board Inspector for the 9th District at that time was Commander Charles E. Clark, USN, but the signature on our letter looks nothing even close to that. The person who wrote this letter will remain a mystery, known only to the dusty pages of time.

This story appeared in the March 2002 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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