Date of Service: 1900 – 1937
1872: Born on August 10 to parents George B. and Nancy Clark Sterling in Lawsonia, Somerset County, MD.
1891: Marries Sally Marian Riggin on July 28. They raise 6 children.
1900: Serves as First Assistant at Solomons Lump Lighthouse, MD. His salary is $420/year.
1900-1901: Serves as First Assistant at Craighill Channel Lower Range Front Lighthouse, MD. His salary is $435/year.
1901-1902: Serves as First Assistant at Sharkfin Shoal Lighthouse, MD. His salary is $440/year.
1902-1903: Serves as First Assistant at Janes Island Lighthouse, MD. His salary is $435/year.
1903-1904: Serves as Principal Keeper at Sharkfin Shoal Lighthouse, MD. His salary is $560/year.
1904-1937: Serves as Principal Keeper at Solomons Lump Lighthouse, MD. His beginning salary is $560/year and ending salary of $1,800/year.
1916: Receives the Inspectors Efficiency Star.
1929: Keeper Sterling inadvertently sets Solomons Lump Lighthouse on fire while burning off paint that was concealing rotten wood. He was able to extinguish the flames quickly with a fire extinguisher.
1937: Retires on March 4 from the Lighthouse Service after serving 37 years.
1940: Henry Columbus Sterling dies on March 19 at age 67. He is buried @ Asbury Cemetery, Lawsonia, Somerset County, Maryland. He is survived by his six children and nine grandchildren.
Keeper Henry Columbus Sterling Anecdote
Keeper Henry Columbus Sterling served a total of 37 years in the U.S. Lighthouse Service, 33 of those years at Solomons Lump Lighthouse. During his years at the lighthouse, Keeper Sterling made many trips back and forth to his home in a small sailboat – an 8-mile trip. During the big freeze of 1936, Keeper Sterling left the lighthouse and walked across the ice to Smith Island.
Keeper Sterling was known to his close friends as “Lum B”. Henry had an endearing and pleasant nature and was a man with great integrity. Other than his family and church, his life was centered around his garden, where he grew vegetables and flowers. “He carefully, fondly, and lovingly watched over his garden as though it were some frail, weak child.”
Sources: Chesapeake Chapter Keeper database; Annual Report of the Lighthouse Board, various years; Maryland Lighthouses of the Chesapeake Bay, F. Ross Holland, 1996; Bay Beacons, Linda Turbyville, The Crisfield Times, March 22, 1940