Keeper Bio: Henry Clay Wingate

Date of Service: 1902 – 1927

 

1862:  Born May 19 to parents Thomas and Mary Wingate in Dorchester County, MD.

1880: Occupation is listed as Sailor in the U.S. Census

1889:  Henry is discharged from the Army on November 16 (Spanish American War)

1890: Marries Nettie J. Dodge.

1900: Occupation is listed as day laborer in Baltimore, MD. In the 1900 U.S. Census.

1902: Appointed probationary Assistant Keeper at Deepwater Shoals Lighthouse, VA, where he serves for a total of five months and twenty-one days. His annual salary is $435.

1903:  Serves as Assistant Keeper at Deepwater Shoals Lighthouse, VA.

1903:  Serves as Assistant Keeper at Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, MD.

1904: Serves as Assistant Keeper at Hooper Island Lighthouse, MD. His salary is $440/year.

1905:  Serves as Assistant Keeper at Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, MD.

1905:  Keeper Wingate and Assistant Keeper J.B. Suit rescue a man clinging to his capsized boat.

1907:  Serves as Principal Keeper at Cobb Point Bar Lighthouse, MD.

1908:  Serves as Principal Keeper at Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, MD., from March 19 to October 1st. His salary was $600/year.

1908-1914: Serves as Principal Keeper at Craighill Channel Lower Range Front Lighthouse, MD.

1911:  Keeper Wingate and Assistant Keeper James L. Lewis rescue two men from a small, capsized boat during a bad storm in March.

1912:  Henry C. Wingate requests a transfer to Piney Point Light Station, MD. On August 10th.

1912:  Serves as Principal Keeper at Piney Point Lighthouse, MD., effective September 4th. His salary is $552/year.

1912:  Receives a commendation on December 26th, for aiding assistance to schooner David P. Mulford, which ran aground at the south end of Piney Point.       

1914-1916:  Henry C. Wingate is designated as a Watchman at Lazaretto Lighthouse Depot, MD.

1916: Henry C. Wingate, Watchman, and Keeper William H. Davis, Jr. receive a commendation from the Secretary of the Lighthouse Service for their attempts to save a drowning man near Lazaretto on April 12th.

1916-1919:  Serves as Principal Keeper at Piney Point Lighthouse, MD. His beginning salary is $552/year. His ending salary is $780/year.

1919-1922:  Serves as Principal Keeper at Drum Point Lighthouse, MD. His annual salary is $780/year.

1922-1925:  Serves as Watchman at Lazaretto Lighthouse Depot, MD. His beginning salary is $1,020/year. His ending salary is $1,260/year.

1925-1927:  Serves as Principal Keeper at Lazaretto Point Lighthouse, MD.

1927:  Henry C. Wingate retires from the U.S. Lighthouse Service on July 30th, due to physical disability after serving for 25 years. He receives a pension of $717.09/year.

1936:  Henry C. Wingate dies on February 23rd, 1936, at the age of 74. He is buried in a Baltimore Cemetery.

Keeper Henry Clay Wingate Anecdotes:

Henry C. Wingate served a total of 25 years in the Lighthouse Service at 8 different lighthouses. The sea was in his blood from an early age. When he was 12 years old, he served as a cook on a sailing vessel. He describes being so small, he needed to stand on a box to reach the pots and pans. He eventually served as an aide seaman, and later worked as an oyster dredger in the Chesapeake.

During his years on the sea, he took part in many rescues. One of the most dangerous came when he was keeper at the Craighill Channel Lower Range Front Lighthouse. On March 22, 1911, around 5pm, a bad storm hit the area. He describes the rescue in a newspaper interview: “I saw a vessel in distress some distance away. Before I and my helper could get a boat off and get to her, she capsized.” The boat was a 25-ton boat, carrying a crew of three men. One of those men was carried away and drowned, but Wingate was able to get the other two people to the lighthouse. “Both were unconscious.” One of the men died minutes later, but the other man was resuscitated. He was cited for bravery by the Government. A letter sent from the Inspector of the Fifth Lighthouse District reads in part: “ The Department agrees with the Inspector that the personal courage exhibited by yourself and Mr. Lewis in going to the rescue of the two men at the imminent risk of your own lives is worthy of the highest commendation. The Department is pleased to learn that it has men in its service who do not hesitate to endanger their lives in an effort to be of assistance to those who are in peril.”

On July 14, 1905, a Chesapeake Bay canoe of about five tons, owned by Capt. Samuel Bullen, of South River, capsized near Thomas Point light. Captain Bullen had taken in a supply of provisions and dry goods and was returning to his home at South River when he was caught in a heavy blow and capsized. Henry C. Wingate and J. B. Suit keepers of Thomas Point light, put out from the lighthouse in a small boat and rescued Captain Bullen, who was clinging desperately to his overturned craft. The boat was returned to shore safely.

 Sources:  Chesapeake Chapter Database, Newspapers.com, The Baltimore Sun, October 18, 1925, The Baltimore Sun, July 15, 1905; Ancestry.com, National Archives, Department of Commerce and Labor, April Havens, Piney Point Lighthouse

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: https://cheslights.org/keeper-bio-henry-clay-wingate/