Keeper Bio: Lewis Riggin Carman

Lewis Riggin Carman

Date of Service: 1936 – 1947

1907: Born October 13 in Delmar, Wicomico County, MD
1926: Marries Gladys Ruth Elmore on September 1 in Crisfield, Somerset County, MD.
1931: The couple has their first child, a son, Lewis Riggin Carman, Jr. on April 16.
1932: The couple has their second child, a daughter, Caroline Virgie on October 24.
1936-1938: Served as First Assistant Keeper at Holland Island Bar Lighthouse, MD, where he made $1,440 per year.
1938-1939: Served as Second Assistant Keeper at Smith Point Lighthouse, VA, where he made $1,500 per year.
1939-1940: Served as Keeper at Bloody Point Bar Lighthouse, MD, where he made $1,560 per year. Keeper Carman and his assistant rescue 9 men aboard a 45-foot fishing boat caught during a bad storm.
1940-1947: Served as Keeper at Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse, MD. His beginning salary was $1,560 per year and ending salary was $2,785 per year.
1948-1968: Worked for 20 years at the Artcraft Electrical Supply Company in Salisbury, MD.
1968: Keeper Lewis Riggin Carman passes away on July 13 at age 61 and is buried at Wicomico Memorial Park, Somerset County, MD.

Keeper Lewis Riggin Carman Anecdotes:
During his time at Holland Island Bar Lighthouse, Keeper Carman describes an incident where they came very close to being hit by a Japanese Merchant ship. “It was just before World War II. The fog was as thick and murky as the water of a field stream after a thunderstorm. Our horn was going, but the ship must not have heard us, for she plowed against the shoal, with a rumble that pumped vibrations up the slender piles that supported our lighthouse. Fortunately what could have been a disaster began and ended with that rumble. The ship hadn’t hit dead-on, so her natural buoyancy somehow enabled her to roll and straighten her course.”

Also, while serving at Holland Island Bar Lighthouse, there were a few famous visitors that stopped by the lighthouse. Arthur Godfrey, a popular radio and television personality, came by and was given a tour of the lighthouse by Keeper Carman. Another time, James Roosevelt, son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, came aboard, but the visit was not for pleasure. His yacht broke down and he wanted to get word to his father by radio, who was on the presidential yacht at the time in the Potomac River.

During his time as Keeper at Bloody Point Bar Lighthouse, MD, he and his assistant rescued nine men aboard a 45-foot fishing boat that had lost its engine and was drifting in the powerful waves for six hours.

While serving as second Assistant Keeper at Smith Point Lighthouse, Virginia, Keeper Carman constructed and presented to the U.S. Lighthouse Service a model of the Holland Island Bar Lighthouse. This model was kept along with many other models on display at the Bureau offices in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, all those models have disappeared, as the U.S. Lighthouse Service dissolved one year after they received his model.

At some point during his service at Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse, MD, he served as Chief Petty Officer aboard a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter during World War II for a couple of years.

Sources: Chesapeake Chapter Keeper Database, Lighthouse Service Bulletin June 1938, Justin Causey, g-g-grandson of Lewis R. Carman, Baltimore Sun Magazine, April 2, 1967, www.archives.uslhs.org

 

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