Keeper Bio: Smith, Charles Harwin


Date of Service: 1867-1872, 1874-1881, 1895-1908

1840: Born on September 24th in Delaware County, PA.

1860-1865: Serves as First Mate on the U.S. Transport Steamer, Diamond State.

1865: Moves to Chincoteague, VA., where he serves as the Captain of a small cutter.

1867-1872:  Appointed Principal Keeper for the newly constructed Assateague Lighthouse, VA., in 1867. His annual salary is $760/year. (His wife Mary C. Smith serves as First Assistant)

1873: Captain Charles H. Smith moves to Wilmington DE., with his wife and oversees a buoy storehouse @ the mouth of the Christina River.

1874-1881: Serves as Captain of the lighthouse tender, Rose, until 1881.

1877: In September, Captain Smith rescues a man from drowning. He received the silver medal from the United States & a letter of commendation for his bravery, from John Sherman, Secretary of the Treasury.

1881: Transfers to the lighthouse engineer’s office of the 4th district in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1883: Resigns from the U.S. Lighthouse Service and moves back to Wilmington, DE., where he accepts a position with George W. Stone.

1885: Takes a position with the Wilmington City Electric Company, as Assistant Manager.

1890:  On November 1, Captain Smith accepts a position as Assistant Superintendent of the Wilmington City Railway Company.

1894:  His wife, Mary, dies on March 4, 1894.

1895:  Captain Smith returns to the U.S. Lighthouse Service as Captain of the lighthouse tender, Thistle, in the fifth district in Baltimore. His monthly pay was $100/month.

1908:  Charles Harwin Smith dies on May 17, 1908, after a brief illness. He is buried at Wilmington Delaware and Brandywine Cemetery, Wilmington Delaware.

Source: Chesapeake Chapter Keeper database; J. Candace Clifford Lighthouse Research Catalog,;; The Morning News, January 24, 1893, The Morning News, May 19, 1908, Official Register of the United States, various years.

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