Keeper Bio: Gunter, William M.

Date of Service: 1883-1884; 1891-1894

Born in Virginia.

1883-18849: Served as Assistant Keeper at Cherrystone Bqr Lighthouse, VA. His annual salary was $400/year.

1891-1893: Served as Assistant Keeper at Cherrystone Bar Lighthouse, VA. His annual salary was $235/year.

1893-1894: Served as Principal Keeper at Old Plantation Flats Lighthouse, VA.

Keeper William Gunter Anecdotes:

In January 1893, an ice floe struck Old Plantation Flats Lighthouse, knocking the lighthouse off center from the foundation. In addition, the Fresnel lens fell to the floor. Keeper Gunter proceeded to send a telegram to the district inspector stating: “Last night, twenty minutes after one, the light fell from the stand and broke, the tanks have started off. I fastened them best I could. House near wrecked, what shall I do?”

Keeper Gunter was granted permission to leave the station and went home. The station remained dark for the next two weeks until a spare fifth-order lens was delivered and installed. The inspector proceeded to check the lighthouse for damage and determined the station had only suffered minimal damage. The inspector then asked for Keeper Gunter’s resignation, saying that while he may have been justified in leaving, his refusal to return was the reason for his dismissal. The inspector also fired the assistant keeper at the time, for not finding a substitute when the assistant keeper came down with pneumonia, just prior to the storm.

 Sources:, Chesapeake Chapter Database,, Screwpiles, The Forgotten Lighthouses, Suffolk River Heritage, Inc. 2018

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