Keeper Bio: Hudgins, John Filmore

John Filmore Hudgins

Date of Service: 1895 – 1923

1856: Born on January 17 in Mathews County, VA
1879 or 1880: Married Ellen Gertrude “Mittie” Thomas and raised eleven children.
1895: Serves at the Smith Point Lighthouse. The Chesapeake Bay freezes. Ice strikes lighthouse – carries it six miles away from the foundation. Lantern, fog-bell apparatus, oil and some supply articles recovered from the wreck.
1895 -1896: Serves as the First Assistant on the Nansemond River Lighthouse (also known as Pig Point). His salary was $435/year.
1896 -1899: Serves as Assistant Keeper on Newport News Middle Ground Lighthouse. His salary was $440/year.
1899 – 1903: Serves as the First Assistant at Windmill Point Lighthouse. His salary was $440/year.
1903 – 1906: Keeper at York Spit Lighthouse. His salary was $600/year.
1906 – 1907: Keeper at Nansemond River Lighthouse. His salary was $576/year.
1907 – 1908: Keeper at Craney Island Lighthouse. His salary was $576/year.
1908 – 1909: First Assistant at Wolf Trap Lighthouse. His salary was $550/year.
1909 – 1921: Keeper at York Spit Lighthouse a second time. His beginning salary was $600/year and ending salary was $1020/year.
1921 – 1923: Serves as Keeper at Stingray Point Lighthouse. His salary was $960/year.
1923: Retirement. Served in the U.S. Lighthouse Service for 35 years at eight different light stations. Keeper Hudgins saved 11 lives during his long and heroic career.
1949: Passed away on December 7 at age 93. Buried at Pear Tree Cemetery, Onemo, VA.

Keeper John Filmore Hudgins Anecdotes:

Keeper Hudgins served at eight different light stations and all were water-based beacons. During his 35 years of service, Hudgins rescued 11 lives. Two of those were his friends until he died. He found them in the last stages of exhaustion, hanging on to their overturned boat far out in the bay.

In another instance at Windmill Point Lighthouse, Hudgins stayed awake for eight days and nights without sleep. Hudgins said “I kept the bell ringing at Windmill Point all that time. I had to wind her up like a clock every half hour, but I stayed awake and did my job”.

Source: Joan Williams and Lori Hudgins Cicero; Bay Beacons by Linda Turbyville; Lighthouse Directory web site: and Kraig Anderson -Lighthouse Friends web site –

Permanent link to this article: