Keeper Bio: Slacum, William Kirwan


Date of Service: 1892 – 1914

1833:  Born on November 8, 1833, in Church Creek, Dorchester County, MD. To Barzillai and Julia Ann Slacum

1862:  Marries Margaret Jane Christopher on February 4, 1862, in Dorchester County, MD.

1880: Occupation listed as a clerk in Baltimore, MD. in the U.S. Census.

1892: Serves as Assistant Keeper at Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, MD.

1893: On March 7, William is given a certificate of examination of an acting lighthouse keeper. He is considered competent to perform duties of the position and recommended to a full appointment. William Kirwan Slacum is assigned Keeper at Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, MD. His annual salary is $560/year.

1894: A request from the Capt. Of Engineers (U.S. Engineer Secretary) is sent to the Secretary of the Treasury on January 19, asking for Keeper Slacum to be transferred from Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse to Lower Cedar Point Lighthouse, MD. On January 20, Keeper Slacum receives his notice of transfer.

1894: On January 30, a letter is sent to the Secretary of Treasury from the Navy Secretary RECALLING the request for Keeper Slacum. The Lighthouse Board was asked to hire a laborer with similar compensation, “who will furnish his own boat” to attend the temporary light at Lower Cedar Point pending the construction of the new lighthouse. Keeper Slacum remains at Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse.

1897:  Transferred to Maryland Point Lighthouse on January 2 to serve as Keeper. His salary was $560/year.

1898: Transferred to Hooper Strait Lighthouse, MD to serve as Keeper. His salary was $575/year.

1902: Transferred to Craighill Channel Lower Range Front Lighthouse, MD on March 4 to serve as Keeper. His salary was $575/year.

1908: Transferred to Cobb Point Bar Lighthouse, MD on March 16 to serve as Keeper. His beginning salary was $576/year and the ending salary was $600/year.

1910: Transferred to Piney Point Lighthouse, MD on October 5 to serve as Keeper. His salary was $552/year.

1911: An Efficiency Report was completed on Keeper William K. Slacum on May 13. He received extremely high marks. The following physical remark was noted: “Although 78 years of age he has been able to perform his duties, his physical condition is showing the effect of his age, and he will probably not be able to continue doing the full amount of work for long.”

1911: Keeper Slacum requests a transfer to the Keeper position at Fort Carroll Lighthouse, Baltimore, MD. His pay remained at $552/year.

1914: On August 14, Keeper Slacum wrote a letter to the 5th District Lighthouse Inspector: “I hear with send my resignation; to take effect, as soon as you can send someone to relieve me.” Respectfully, W.K. Slacum, Keeper, Fort Carroll Lighthouse. On October 11, Keeper Slacum ended his 22-year career with the Lighthouse Service.

1919: William K. Slacum died April 27, 1919, at the age of 85.

Source: April Havens, Piney Point Lighthouse & Museum, Chesapeake Chapter Keeper Database,, National Archives at St. Louis, National Personnel Records Center,,, Chronicling America

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