Keeper Bio: James Locke Weems, Sr.

Date of Service: 1887 – 1918

1888: Born January 18 to parents James & Margaret Weems in Calvert, MD.

1878: Marries Mary Alice Ireland on February 21, 1878, in Calvert, MD. They had 5 children.

18871890: Served as First Assistant at Cove Point Lighthouse, MD. His salary was $420/year.

18901891: Served as Principal Keeper at Cobb Point Bar Lighthouse, MD. His starting salary was $560/year and his ending salary was $575/year.

18911918: Served as Principal Keeper at Drum Point Lighthouse, MD. His annual salary was $575/year.

1893: Daughter Mary dies at the age of three in June.

1894: The lighthouse caught fire from the stovepipe but was put out immediately.

1898: In a lighthouse inspection on September 2, the inspector noted “journal 6 days behind-daily explanation of work could not be found – room for improvement”.

1899: In a lighthouse inspection on January 24, the inspector noted that the condition of the station was particularly good and there was a huge improvement in neatness.

1901: Daughter Anne died on February 16 at the age of 16.

1906: Granddaughter Anna Weems is born in the lighthouse on July 13.

1918: Keeper James Lock Weems retires from Lighthouse Service on May 2 after serving 31 years. Twenty-seven of those years were at Drum Point Lighthouse.

1920: In the U.S. Census, Keeper Weems is age 65 and lived with his wife and son.

1930: In the U.S. Census, Keeper Weems is age 75 and his occupation is listed as a farmer.

1937: Died June 30 at age 82. He is buried at Christ Church Cemetery, Calvert, MD.

Keeper James Locke Weems Sr. Anecdotes:

Keeper Weems served a total of 31 years in the Lighthouse Service, 27 of those were at Drum Point Lighthouse. There were not many cases where families could stay at the lighthouse, but the Weems family is one of those exceptions.

In 1891, Keeper James Weems put in a transfer from Cobb Point Bar Lighthouse to Drum Point Lighthouse in Maryland so that he could be closer to home to help care for his sick daughter, Mary.   The Lighthouse Board approved his request so Keeper Weems, his wife Alice (who served as his assistant keeper for twenty-six years with no pay), 2 girls, and 3 boys, moved into the Drum Point Lighthouse.

All the children were homeschooled by their mother, who was a schoolteacher prior to marrying Keeper Weems.  For entertainment at the station, the family would play cards, checkers, and dominoes.  The family kept a vegetable garden onshore near the station where they also raised chickens. At Christmas, the family would cut down a cedar tree from the shore and decorate with handmade ornaments consisting of strung popcorn and cranberries and cookies hung from a ribbon

Sources: Chesapeake Chapter Keeper database, J. Candace Clifford Research Catalog; Familysearch.org; Newspapers.com; Shedding Light on the Drum Point Lighthouse! Timothy J. Brown, Calvert Marine Museum, 1998; Photo courtesy Calvert Marine Museum

 

 

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