Date of Service: 1907 – 1917
1873: Born on July 30 to Robert & Mary Collison, Maryland.
1907-1909: Served as the First Assistant at Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse in MD. His starting salary was $420/year and his ending salary was $480/year.
Early 1900s: Married his wife Ellen and raised six children.
1909-1912: Served as the First Assistant at Cove Point Lighthouse in MD. His salary was $480/year.
1913: Served as the First Assistant at Greenbury Point Lighthouse in MD. His salary was $480/year.
1915-1916: Served as the First Assistant at Thomas Point Lighthouse in MD. His salary was $480/year.
1916-1917: Served as the First Assistant at Greenbury Point Lighthouse in MD. His salary was $480/year.
1917: Served as Principal Keeper at Baltimore Harbor Lighthouse in MD. His annual salary was $624/year.
1917: Resigned from the U.S. Lighthouse Service to accept an appointment as Master-At-Arms in the United States Naval Academy.
1920s-1930s: His occupation is listed as a Watchman at the United States Naval Academy.
1940s: In the 1940 Census, his occupation is listed as a “bridge tender” in Maryland.
1950: David W. Collison passed away at the age of 77 on August 13. He is buried at Saint Anne’s Cedar Bluff Cemetery in Annapolis, MD.
Keeper David W. Collison Anecdotes:
Keeper David W. Collison served at five different lighthouses in his 10-year career with the U.S. Lighthouse Service. While stationed at Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse in Maryland, he wrote the following letter to Father John’s Medicine about one of his experiences to acquire that medicine.
“I was taken with a very severe cold and felt that I was on the verge of grip. The head keeper of the lighthouse told me that Father John’s Medicine did more permanent good for his daughter than all other medicines she had ever used and so heartedly recommended Father John’s Medicine that I got him to buy two large bottles in Baltimore. I used it according to directions and to my satisfaction found relief directly. I had decided to take a through (sic) course of treatment to fortify my system against La Grippe and try to have my body in good physical condition in the early spring preparatory to the arduous labor involved in the spring renovation of the lighthouse.”
“Owing to the inclement weather, I could not leave the station to go to Baltimore to renew my supply of Father John’s Medicine, so I started early this morning amid the risks and dangers of drifting ice, and sailed six miles to Sparrow Point, the nearest place where I could secure another bottle of Father John’s Medicine. I have every confidence in the medicine and so was willing to undertake the great risk involved in the journey to Sparrows Point after it.”
Father John’s Medicine was so fascinated with his story that they went to the lighthouse to take his picture to use with his story in their advertising campaign in newspapers. It was so successful that they continued to use the campaign for many years to come.
Sources: Chesapeake Chapter Keeper database, “United States Census, 1920, 1930 and 1940,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org), Lighthouse Digest Magazine, September/October 2017, The J. Candace Clifford Lighthouse Research Catalog, www.uslhs.org