Keeper Bio: William Yeatman, Jr.

William Yeatman, Jr. 1931

Date of Service: 1904-1939

1872:  Born on July 26 to parents William M. and Anna Yeatman, Sr., in St. Mary’s County, MD.

1900:  His occupation is listed as a blacksmith in the U.S. Census.

Early 1900s:  Marries Julia Courtney.

1903:  Wife Julia gives birth to a daughter, Mary on December 10. Neither mother or daughter survive.

1904-1913:  Appointed Keeper at Smiths Creek Beacon, MD. His annual salary is $240/year.

1905:  Marries Susan Mildred Cullison on November 15 in St. Mary’s County, MD. They go on to raise 6 children.

1914:  Served as First Assistant at Point No Point Lighthouse, MD.

1914:  Yeatman and his 5-year-old daughter are rescued by Keeper George Willis after returning to the lighthouse from a trip to shore.

1914:  Served as First Assistant at Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, MD.

1914:  Served as Keeper at Point No Point Lighthouse, MD. His starting salary was $600/year and ending salary was $624/year.

1918:  Served as Keeper at Drum Point Lighthouse, MD. His salary was $780/year.

1919:  Keeper Yeatman is commended by Secretary of Commerce Redfield, for towing ashore a disabled seaplane with two officers aboard on May 11.

1919:  Served as Keeper at Piney Point Lighthouse, MD. His salary was $780/year.

1925:  His wife, Susan, passes away from tuberculosis in January.

1931:  Served as First Assistant at Point Lookout Lighthouse, MD.

1933:  During a bad storm in August, 3-feet of water takes over the yard due to high tide, which kept Keeper Yeatman and his children isolated for a short time.

1954:  Keeper William Yeatman, Jr. passed away on March 6 at the age of 81. He is buried at Saint Michaels Catholic Church Cemetery, Saint Mary’s, MD.

Keeper William Yeatman, Jr. Anecdotes

Keeper William Yeatman, Jr. served at 6 different lighthouses from 1904-1939, a career spanning 35 years. He ended his career at Point Lookout Lighthouse, MD., where he spent most of his childhood and where his father William M. Yeatman, Sr., served as Keeper for 37 years.

While serving as the First Assistant at Point No Point Lighthouse, MD., Yeatman took his 5-year old daughter with him to shore to retrieve his mail. Upon returning, the wind picked up and the waves got bigger. Trying to climb from the boat to the ladder of the lighthouse, a big wave swept him and his daughter overboard into the water. When Yeatman finally made it back to the surface, he noticed his daughter splashing madly about 30 feet away from him. When Yeatman made it to his daughter, Keeper Willis threw them both a line and they were both assisted aboard the lighthouses after multiple attempts. Luckily, both father and daughter were unscathed, but more than likely a bit unnerved.

During a brutal winter at Point No Point Lighthouse, Keeper Yeatman built a sleigh to cross the ice to safety. He was worried that the caisson lighthouse was going to be knocked down by the thick, heavy ice. Another winter saw the bay completely frozen and he was stranded for almost a month where he eventually ran out of food.

During his years as Keeper at Point Lookout, his children recall doing chores before they could play. They would clean the smokey, kerosene lamps, as well as get coal from the nearby store for the pot-bellied stove. They also helped clean the Fresnel lens, which was a difficult job because of all the angles in the glass.

Sources:

Chesapeake Chapter Keeper database, Saint Mary’s Beacon, October 8, 1914, The Baltimore Sun, July 6, 1919, The Baltimore Sun, October 14, 1914, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org), Lighting The Bay: Tales of Chesapeake Lighthouses, Pat Vojtech, The J. Candace Clifford Lighthouse Research Catalog, www.uslhs.org

Permanent link to this article: https://cheslights.org/keeper-bio-william-yeatman-jr/