Keeper Bio: Robert Harold “Hallie” Matthews

Keepers

Date of Service: 1918 – 1941

  1873: Born on October 14 in Mathews County, VA.

Marries Edna Earle Brooks.  The couple raises one child – Mary Elizabeth.

1918- 1920:  Serves as First Assistant Keeper at Deep Water Shoals Lighthouse (VA). Starting annual salary – $480; ending – $720.

1918: On August 7, First Assistant Keeper Matthews rescues four soldiers adrift in a sailboat during a storm off Deep Water Shoals Lighthouse.

1921 – 1923: Serves as Assistant Keeper at Great Wicomico River Lighthouse (VA).

1923 – 1933:  Serves as First Assistant Keeper at Windmill Point Lighthouse (VA).  Starting annual salary – $780; ending – $1,500.

1933 – 1936: Serves as Keeper at Ragged Point Lighthouse (MD).  Annual salary – $1,560.

1936 – 1941: Serves as Keeper at Great Wicomico River Lighthouse (VA).Annual starting salary -$1,680: Ending – $1,740.

1941: Retires with 23 years of service with U.S. Lighthouse Service. 

1967: Passed away on April 24 at age 93 and is buried at Smither Cemetery, Hudgins, VA. He was a member of several fraternal organizations and a local church. Keeper Matthews is survived by his daughter, Mrs. Fred McCormick, and one grandson.

Keeper Robert Harold “Hallie” Matthews Anecdote

Keeper Matthews served at four different light stations during his 23-year career with the US Lighthouse Service. Three of these stations were in Virginia and one was in Maryland.  They were all screwpile lighthouses and none of the super-structures are standing today.  Deep Water Shoals Lighthouse was on the James River and it was near this location on August 7, 1918, that Keeper Matthews rescued four soldiers adrift in a sailboat during a storm.  Windmill Point Lighthouse was a Chesapeake Bay light that marked the northern entrance to the Rappahannock River.  During Keeper Matthews’ tenure at Windmill Point, 523 tons of riprap were added to the light station.  The Ragged Point   Lighthouse in Maryland was a Potomac River light station, and the 1933 Chesapeake-Potomac hurricane was a significant event that occurred during Keeper Matthews’ service either at Ragged Point or Windmill Point.  His last assignment was at the Great Wicomico River Lighthouse located near Reedville, VA, which marked the entrance to the Great Wicomico River.  Dale Fitchett recalls playing ball as a child with his great-uncle. Keeper Matthews would use his cane to bat the ball back to his young great-nephew.

Keeper Matthews’ name “Hallie” has at times been associated with the name of an area in Mathews County called “Hallieford”. The area’s name could originate from the words “ford” which is a shallow crossing of a stream and the keeper’s nickname – “Hallie”. The road in Hallieford where Keeper Matthews’ house once stood is today called “Light Keeper Lane”. And, if you want to access “Light Keeper Lane”, you must first traverse “Old Matthews Lane”. The “Matthews” in “Old Matthews Lane” is spelled with two “t’s” as is the name of honored Keeper Robert “Hallie” Matthews.

Sources– Lighthouse Friends – https://www.lighthousefriends.com;   Chapter data base; Chapter Historian, Jennifer Jones; R. Dale Fitchett; Daily Press/Times Herald – March 13, 1991; June Atherton King; Research – Clerk’s Office, Mathews, VA.;

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