Keeper Bio: William M. Yeatman, Sr.

William Yeatman, Sr. at Point Lookout

Date of Service: 1871-1908

1830: Born on October 1 in Richmond County, VA.

1862:  Marries Anna Maria Lamb on May 12 in St. Mary’s County, MD. They go on to have 12 children.

1871:  Appointed Keeper at Point Lookout Lighthouse, MD on September 22. His beginning salary was $520/year.

1874:  A Novia Scotian schooner, Etta, loaded with coffee from Brazil sinks five or six miles below Point Lookout. The only survivor, Mr. Evans, drifted to the point where he finally reached the shore at Point Lookout Lighthouse and was taken care of by Keeper Yeatman. After a search for the vessel, it was nowhere to be found.

1883:  Is appointed Custodian of the Buoy Repair Depot at Point Lookout in July, as well as still tending to his duties of Keeper at Point Lookout Lighthouse.

1892:  Keeper Yeatman and his wife mourn the loss of a 13-year-old daughter.

1893:  Keeper Yeatman’s barn catches fire. He loses 45 barrels of corn, 1500 bundles of fodder (dried hay or feed) for his livestock, as well as farming equipment.

1908:  Keeper William M. Yeatman Sr. passed away at the age of 77 on May 31 while serving as Keeper at Point Lookout Lighthouse, MD. His annual ending salary was $800/year. He is buried at First Saints Community Church Cemetery, St. Mary’s County, MD. He was the longest-serving Keeper at Point Lookout Lighthouse.

Keeper William M. Yeatman, Sr. Anecdotes

Keeper William M. Yeatman, Sr. served as Keeper at Point Lookout Lighthouse in MD for 37 years, making him the longest-serving keeper at that station. In the April 1980 Chronicles of St. Marys, Keeper Yeatman, Sr. is described as “a man below the medium stature, nearly seventy years of age, wrinkled, with an old-fashioned beard of snowy white about his chin and neck.”

Keeper Yeatman and his wife had 12 children, most of who were born at the lighthouse. In addition to his regular lighthouse duties, they also kept cows, chickens and horses, as well as a big garden on the grounds of the lighthouse. Some of the children would take turns ringing the handbell during bad weather.

In 1883, the dwelling was enlarged by raising the structure to two stories, as well as removing the kitchen and moving it further out in the yard. Some people lived in tents while the work took place.

Some of Keeper Yeatman’s sons went on to serve in the lighthouse service. Percy was briefly stationed at Love Point Lighthouse and William Jr. would spend most of his life in the lighthouse service, much of it spent at Point Lookout, just like his father.

Sources:

Chesapeake Chapter Keeper database, Saint Mary’s Beacon, December 15, 1892, Saint Mary’s Beacon, May 7, 1874, Saint Mary’s Beacon, November 16 1893, Saint Mary’s Beacon, April 13, 1899, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org), Lighting The Bay: Tales of Chesapeake Lighthouses, Pat Vojtech, The J. Candace Clifford Lighthouse Research Catalog, www.uslhs.org

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