Keeper Bio: Marchant, Levi D.

Levi D. Marchant

Date of Service: 1882 – 1921

1856: Born on April 1 in Mathews, Virginia.
1879: Marries Emma Susan Dixon on September 25. Couple raises five children: Ruby, Elizabeth, John Dixon, Talmadge, and Levi Theodore.
1882 to 1883: Keeper Marchant begins service on December 31 as Acting 2nd Assistant Keeper at Wolf Trap Lighthouse, Virginia. Salary – $400 a year.
1883 to 1884: Serves as Acting Keeper at Watts Island Lighthouse, Virginia.
1884 to 1889: Serves as Keeper at Watts Island Lighthouse. Salary – $560/year in 1887.
1889: Begins service as Keeper at Stingray Point Lighthouse on June 24. Salary – $560/year for the period 1889 through 1899.
1893: Ice prevents Marchant who is on shore leave from returning to the lighthouse.
1912: Severe winter isolates Marchant at the lighthouse for 30 days.
1921: Retires on March 31 with 38 years of Lighthouse service with an ending salary of $960/year. 32 of those years at Stingray Point Lighthouse – believed to be one of the longest tenures by a Keeper at a single lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay. Succeeded by John Filmore Hudgins.
1943: Dies on April 17 at age 87 and buried at Mathews Baptist Church Cemetery, Hudgins, VA.

Keeper Levi D. Marchant Anecdotes:

On March 31, 1921, Keeper Marchant retired from the US Lighthouse Service with 38 years of service, 32 of those years at the off-shore Stingray Point Lighthouse. He began service at Stingray Point Lighthouse in the summer of 1889.

During an interview with a reporter with the Baltimore Sun, Marchant said “During very stormy weather, with the seas running high, the station shook badly. It is supported by six small iron piles and I have seen it sway back and forth like a rocking chair.” “The most lonesome time I experienced was during the winter of 1912 when I was alone for 30 days in a freeze. The tower shook while the ice drifted around the station and the Chesapeake was covered with ice as far as the eye could see. There was nothing to look at but fields of ice.”

Asked about his health, Marchant said, “During my long time in the Lighthouse Service I have not been sick a single day and have not lost a day’s pay. The secret of my good health is that I have been where the doctors couldn’t get to me.”

Keeper Marchant thoroughly enjoyed reading and looked forward to receiving the traveling library – a cabinet with a variety of books that moved from lighthouse to lighthouse – from the U.S. Lighthouse Service.

Sources: David B. Marchant; “Lighthouses of Maryland/Virginia; History, Mystery, Legends & Lore” by Bob Trapani, Jr.; Lighthouse Friends web site:; Chesapeake Chapter web site – and see “Our Heritage” heading.

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