Keeper Bio: Thomas, Barney Crockett

Barney Crockett Thomas

Date of Service: 1917 – 1950

1896: Born on February 4 in Tangier, VA to John W. and Emma (Crockett) Thomas.
1917: Married Ella H. Crockett on September 16. Couple raises six children; two sons – Everett and Hanson; and four daughters – Emma, Catherine, Violet, and Doris.
1917: Serves aboard the Coast Guard cutter Apache.
1917 – 1920: Serves as 3rd Assistant Keeper at New Cape Henry Lighthouse (Virginia). His son Everett is born at the lighthouse. His beginning salary was $456 per year and ending salary was $600/year.
1920 – 1925: Serves as Keeper at Lower Cedar Point Lighthouse (Maryland) where he earned $900/year.
1925 -1926: Serves as Keeper at Great Wicomico River Light Station (Virginia).
1926 – 1930: Serves as First Assistant Keeper at Solomons Lump Lighthouse (Maryland). His beginning salary was $1440/year and ending salary was $1620/year.
At Ragged Point Lighthouse (Maryland). (per Family)
At Smith Point Lighthouse (Virginia). (per Family)
At Upper Cedar Point Lighthouse (Maryland). (per Family)
1936 to 1942: Serves as Keeper at Tangier Sound Lighthouse (Virginia), where his salary ranged from $1725/year to $1740/year. He then joined the U.S. Coast Guard.
1950: After 33 years of lighthouse service, Keeper Thomas retires.
1987: Died of pneumonia on September 4 at age 91. Buried at Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Onancock, VA.

Keeper Barney Crockett Thomas Anecdotes:

Keeper Thomas and his wife, Ella gave birth to a son, Everett in 1920 at his first station, New Cape Henry Lighthouse. He also frequently acquired fresh fruit, including a large supply of bananas in the off-season. The Thomas family then shared this unique bounty with other children and needy families on Tangier Island. Ella Thomas would also prepare food to help neighbors on the island.

After 33 years of “light keeping” at eight different stations, Keeper Thomas retired in 1950 and enjoyed a long retirement. He “crossed the bar” in 1987 at 91 years of age.

Source: The National Archives, the National Personnel Records Center, the United States Lighthouse Society, Lighthouse Friends web site, Lighthouse Directory web site, Kathie Brittingham, Sandi Trent, Jennifer Jones, CCUSLHS

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