Keeper Bio: James T. Somers

Keeper James T. Somers

Date of Service: 1919 – 1958

1892:  Born on November 18 to parents Tobey & Matilda, Somerset County, MD.

1919:  Served as First Assistant at Cove Point Lighthouse in MD.  His annual salary was $1,115/year.

1919-1920:  Served as First Assistant at Point No Point Lighthouse in MD.  His salary was $1,182/year.

1923:  Served as First Assistant at Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse in MD.  His salary was $1,115/year.

1924:  Served as First Assistant at Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse in MD.  His salary was $1,260/year.

1930:  In the United States Census, his occupation is listed as a Foreman at a Packing Company in MD.

1930:  Appointed additional keeper at any station, Fifth Lighthouse District on August 3rd.  His salary was $1,320/year.

1931:  Served as First Assistant at Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse in MD.  His annual salary was $1,380/year.

1931-1938:  Served as First Assistant at Point No Point Lighthouse in MD. His annual salary was $1,440/year.

1938-1939:  Served as Keeper at Bloody Point Bar Lighthouse in MD. His annual salary was $1,560/year.

1939-1940:  Served as Keeper at Point No Point Lighthouse in MD. His annual salary was $1,620/year.

1940-1943:  Served as Keeper at Choptank River Lighthouse in MD. His annual salary was $1,620/year.

1943-1958:  Served as Keeper at Cove Point Lighthouse in MD until he retired. His ending salary was $3,750/year.

1958:  Received the Albert Gallatin Award from the United States Coast Guard.

1963:  James T. Somers passed away at the age of 81 on February 18. He is buried at Crisfield Cemetery in Crisfield, MD.

Keeper James T. Somers Anecdotes:

Keeper James T. Somers served at five different lighthouses in his 29-year career with the U.S. Lighthouse Service. He was born in Somerset county but was mainly raised at Smith’s Island on a boat. His grandfather and uncle were lighthouse tenders. Prior to joining the U.S. Lighthouse Service, he worked as a managing mechanic for a packing company in Maryland.

In an article from the Baltimore Sun, Keeper Somers tells how he prefers working at isolated water-bound lighthouses, as the duties are more limited. In regard to land-based lighthouses, he comments “But here you got 11 acres of ground to tend. In addition to the light, you have to maintain houses, ground, paint, be a carpenter, as well as having a continuous watch of the light, radio beacon and a continuous stand-by on the radio telephone.”

Keeper James T. Somers was the last civilian keeper of Cove Point Lighthouse.

Sources:  Chesapeake Chapter Keeper database, Robert J. Hurry, Registrar of Calvert Marine Museum, “United States Census, 1920, 1930 and 1940,”  FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org), Baltimore Sun, January 8, 1953, The J. Candace Clifford Lighthouse Research Catalog, www.uslhs.org

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