Keeper Bio: Davis, William Edward “Eddie”


Date of Service: 1909-1930

1861  Born on October 13 in Mathews County, VA to parents Larkin & Sarah Winder Davis.  The couple has six children, two of whom will become lighthouse keepers.  In addition to William Edward Davis, son Albert “Allie” L. Davis will serve at five Chesapeake Bay lighthouses for about 14 or more years. Both men entered the U.S. Lighthouse Service the same year.  Grandson Frank Raymond Lewis of Mathews will also enter the U.S. Lighthouse Service serving at eight Chesapeake Bay lighthouses for 26 years.                            

1889  William Edward Davis married Mary Elizabeth Marchant on January 24.  The couple raises five children – Henrietta, Andrew Jackson, Edward Levi, Frank Raymond, and Thomas Jefferson.  Son Andrew will serve as a young apprentice with the Mathews Journal.  He also serves in WWI and became an investment banker.

1900   William Edward Davis is listed in the U.S. Census as a farmer in Mathews County, VA.

1907  On November 7 at 3 pm, lightning strikes a barn owned by First Assistant Keeper William Edward Davis who has just entered the U.S. Lighthouse Service on November 1. The barn and contents including hay and corn harvested for the year, are a complete loss. There was no insurance.  Two cows are all that was saved. 

1907-1917  Serves as First Assistant Keeper at Windmill Point Lighthouse (VA). His beginning annual salary – is $440 and his ending annual salary – is $480.  Serves with Keeper James Garnett Williams of Mathews in 1907, Keeper Charles Edwin Respess of Mathews from 1907-1915, and serves with Keeper Andrew Broaddus Sadler of Mathews for at least one year in 1915.

1918  Keeper Davis and his Assistant, J.M. Marchant, perform duties faithfully during hazardous ice conditions.

1930 +/-   Retires with about 23 or more years with the U.S. Lighthouse Service.  Entire tenure of service at Windmill Point Lighthouse (VA).

1932  Passes away on December 26 at his home in Hudgins, VA at age 70 and is buried at H.C. Smither Cemetery, Mathews County, VA.  His wife Mary Elizabeth Marchant Davis passes away on May 29, 1935, at age 70 and is buried beside him.

 Keeper William Edward “Eddie” Davis Anecdotes:

Keeper Davis served at the Windmill Point Lighthouse, VA for his entire lengthy career with the US Lighthouse Service. The screwpile lighthouse at Windmill Point is no longer standing.  It was dismantled in 1965 and efforts to save the lighthouse and reconstruct it onshore failed due to the manner in which the structure was disassembled.  However, the original bell was saved and can be found on the grounds of the Windmill Point Marina near White Stone, VA.  After the Windmill Point Lighthouse was removed in 1965, a light was placed on the remaining screwpile foundation and it continued to serve as an aide to navigation with the addition of a red and white diamond-shaped panel serving as a daymark. In 2008, the original screwpile foundation was removed and currently, a new foundation supports a light and daymark at Windmill Point in the form of a small skeletal tower at the convergence of the northern entrance to the Rappahannock River with the Chesapeake Bay.

During his tenure at the Windmill Point Lighthouse, Keeper Davis experienced several changes at this offshore light.  Ice floes in the bay damaged some of the screwpiles and braces in 1917-18.  In 1920, 800 tons of riprap stone were placed on the north side of the station in an effort to form an ice breaker to protect the damaged station from ice flows during the ebb tide.  In 1921, electric welding was used to repair the broken piles and braces damaged earlier by ice floes. And in 1924, another 523 tons of riprap stone were added to the station.  Offshore lighthouses were often subject to repair due to damage from the harsh elements.

Sources –; Chesapeake Chapter Database,; Susan Lewis Powell; Mary Godsey; Mathews Journal, November 10, 1907, and May 18, 2023;; Sara Lewis.

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