MEET THE KEEPERS
Theodore Thomas Gaillard and his wife Ellen E.
The first lighthouse keeper in our series is the last Principal Keeper that served at Hunting Island Lighthouse before it was decommissioned June 15, 1933. His wife Ellen is included, and although she was not an official Lighthouse Service employee, she was, as were all lighthouse keepers' wives, very much an assistant keeper. However, there were keepers' wives that were official salaried Lighthouse Service employees, although none served at Hunting Island Lighthouse.
Theodore T. Gaillard began his Lighthouse Service career in the 6th Lighthouse District (Keepers were hired at the District level) and was appointed as the 2nd Assistant Keeper, July 1, 1911, at the Jupiter Inlet Light Station, FL. Since 1900, he had been working as a mariner in Savannah, GA where he met and married his wife Ellen in 1907. The position as a 2nd Assistant Keeper was usually the entry level position to learn on the job. On February 10th, 1916, he was transferred to Mosquito Inlet Light Station, FL as 2nd Assistant Keeper and in May of 1916 his annual salary was raised from $456. to $516.
August F. Wichmann
Mr. August Friedrich Wichmann, a native of Germany, began his career in the US Lighthouse Service in February 1905 as the Assistant Keeper at the Venus Point Range Light-Station in South Carolina. His starting salary was $300 per year. On June 1, 1905, it was increased to $420 per year. In September of 1905, he was transferred to the Tybee Knoll Cut Range Light-Station on the Savannah River in Georgia as Assistant Keeper. That same month the several range lights along the Savannah River were reorganized and August's light-station assumed responsibility for two additional range light pairs. He and his Keeper were now very busy with the responsibility for six lights along the Savannah River.
About a year later on October 20, 1906, August was transferred to the Cape Romain, South Carolina Light-Station as 2nd Assistant Keeper. Cape Romain was a major seacoast lighthouse so this was actually a promotion with a salary increase to $490 a year. On May 1, 1908 he was again promoted to 1st Assistant Keeper with a transfer to the Hunting Island Light-Station. His annual salary then increased to $540 a year.
On November 17, 1911, August Wichmann was promoted to Principal (Head) Keeper at the Hunting Island Light-Station upon the death in service of Keeper Theodore S. Johansen the day before. August's salary was now $720 per year. On March 1, 1913, he was transferred to the Cape Romain Light-Station now as Principal Keeper. August was an accomplished boatman and while at Cape Romain Light he put those skills to use on at least three occasions while rendering assistance to mariners in distress. In 1916, 1919 and 1925, he was commended for his actions by the Secretary of Commerce (The Lighthouse Service was then part of the Department of Commerce). The official commendations are in his service record.
August F. Wichmann retired from the Lighthouse Service April 1, 1934 after over 29 years of service. He was also a US Army veteran of the Spanish American War, having served in Cuba in the South Carolina Volunteers. He passed away in Charleston June 21, 1956.
Keeper August Wichmann and his wife Hazel
He served at Hunting Island Lighthouse from 1908 to 1913, first as 1st Assistant Keeper, then as Principal Keeper.
James W. Turner
This month we will introduce an Assistant Keeper, James William Turner that served at Hunting Island Lighthouse as Second Assistant keeper from September 1924 to February 1925 and was promoted to First Assistant Keeper serving from February 1925 to May 1928. Although the Principal Keepers were in charge of the light station the Assistant Keepers were absolutely necessary to operate and maintain the station and all its equipment and therefore served a vital role at the Hunting Island Light Station.
Assistant Keeper Turner came to the Hunting Island Light Station from a significant career as a seaman, having served as a seaman in the US Coast Guard, the US Navy and in the Lighthouse Service as a lighthouse tender crewman. As a resident of Lynn, Massachusetts (a coastal suburb north of Boston) he would have grown up near the sea and was undoubtedly drawn to it. There are indications his maritime career began at the age of 14 and he may have served on at least one sailing ship.
James Turner enlisted in the US Coast Guard on the Coast Guard Cutter ANDROSCOGGEN based in Boston, MA, in November 1916. His rating was Boy 2nd Class. He enlisted for one year (the normal Coast Guard enlistment at that time) however he served until August 1918; his enlistment having been extended for several reasons, including the entry of the United States in WW I. James Turner was promoted to Ordinary Seaman in October 1917. His previous occupation was given as a waiter. Although a Coast Guard Cutter, ANDROSCOGGEN operated as part of the US Navy during WW I. Since Seaman Turner had served in the armed forces during WW I (April 1917 to Nov. 1918) he was eligible for the WW I War Bonus and probably the WW I Victory Medal.
James William Turner while serving as an Assistant Keeper at Hunting Island Light Station with his son James William Turner Jr.
Friends of Hunting Island is always thrilled to learn more about the Lighthouse Keepers and their families that served at Hunting Island. If you have information to share, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org