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Watts Island, VA  Lighthouse destroyed.   

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Watts Island Lighthouse

1828 – That act of May 23, 1828 provides That the Secretary of the Treasury be empowered to provide, by contract, for building a light-house on Little Watt’s Island, at the southeastern extremity of Tangier Sound. $6,500.

1831 – Reappropriated $6,400 for a light-house on Little Watt’s Island.

1838 – Watts's-island light-house—Has eleven lamps, with spherical reflectors ; the breakwater in a state of progression; light well kept.
Keeper's house very damp. It will be necessary to have the basement story planked, to prevent the humidity rising above it; the.back of the fireplace in the east room requires new brick; the chimney smokes.

1850 – Little Watts Island light-house. – 11 lamps; Severn F. Mister, keeper; supplied June 22, 1850.
This tower is built of brick, and cemented over, and the cement begins to peel off; lantern wants re-glazing; a new set of lamps are needed; reflectors are very good, although old. Dwelling is in good order, and likewise the breakwater. The present keeper has recently taken charge here.
Left June 20, 1849 455 gallons of oil. Found on hand 55. 400 consumed in 367 days is equal to 397 gallons per year, or 36 1/11 gallons per lamp.
Delivered 267 gallons spring oil, 133 gallons winter oil, on hand 55, for total on hand of 455 40 tube glasses; 28 yards cloth; 3 gross wicks; 1 buff skin; 1 pair scissors; 1 box Tripoli; 1 box soap;1 wick-box;1 lamp feeder; 1 file; 3 burners complete.
2 spare lamps, in good order; common burners; 14-inch reflectors.

1855 – Little Watt's Island.—The tower and keeper's dwelling at this station were put in thorough repair in August last. This light would aid the navigation of Tangier Sound and Pocomoke Bay very much if it illuminated the whole horizon. One additional lamp and reflector would answer all practical purposes.

1855 – Keeper J. D. Underhill $350

1864 -The light-houses at Clay island, Fog Point, Watt's island, Turkey Point, Fishing Battery, and Havre-de-Grace, being at present fitted with lanterns of an old and exceedingly defective character, the interests of commerce demand that steps be taken to remedy the evil. An estimate to cover the cost of furnishing new lanterns of proper plan is submitted.

1867 – Franklin lamps have been substituted for the Fountain lamps heretofore in use at Cherrystone, Piney Point, Sharp's island, Fog Point, Watt’s island, Craney island, Clay island, and Stingray Point

1867 - Watt's island, Fog Point and Clay island.—New lanterns have been substituted for the old and worn-out ones, and the stations have been generally and thoroughly repaired.

1868 – Watts's island.—Revolving machinery of illuminating apparatus repaired.

1869 – Watt's Island.—A cooking-stove and fixtures, and a new boat and fittings have been supplied. A boat-house is required.

1885 – Watts Island, Tangier Sound, Virginia.—In October, 1884, a new coal-shed was put up at the station; a driven well was sunk and minor repairs were made.

1888 – Watt's Island, east side of Tangier Sound, Virginia.—Extensive repairs and renovations were made. The old store-house was removed and a new one built; the cistern house was replaced by a new one; the tower and dwelling were repaired throughout; a new porch was built in front of the dwelling; a brick walk was laid from the ends of the dwelling to the front porch steps; also a plank walk, 3 feet wide, from the dwelling to the tower. Some 500 linear feet of new fence was built and all new work was painted.

1891 – Watts Island, Tangier Sound, Virginia,.—In September 288 lineal feet of new picket fence, with two gates, were constructed, and various repairs were made. The accommodations for the keepers and their families are insufficient, and it is proposed to build an additional story to the dwelling, as has been done at other stations in the district having a similar style of house.

1893 – Watts Island, east side of Tangier Sound, Virginia.—In May and June extensive repairs and improvements were made at this station.

1899 – Watts Island, east side of Tangier Sound, Virginia.—New model fifth order lamps were supplied in May and a zinc hood for protecting the lens from rain drip was furnished.

1901 – Watts Island, east side of Tangier Sound, Virginia.—This station was thoroughly repaired in March and April. The iron oil house, which was no longer serviceable, was taken down and a brick structure built in its place. A brick walk was laid on the side of the tower, and a brick pavement, set in cement mortar, was laid near the porch. Some 330 running feet of wooden walk was also laid. Various repairs were made.

1907 – Watts Island, entrance to Tangier Sound, Virginia.—A new landing wharf, 50 feet long by 3 feet wide, was built.

1915 – About December 1 the characteristic of Watts Island light, Tangier Sound, will be changed to flashing white every five seconds: a flash for one second and then eclipse for four seconds. The illuminant was changed from oil to acetylene and the light was likely automated at this time, as Edward A. Dibley was transferred to New Point Comfort, and Charles Hardenberg was appointed laborer in charge of the light. Sibley was paid an annual salary of $560, while Hardenberg was paid just $120.

1944 – Erosion led to the tower toppling in 1944.


  • Head: James W. Twiford (at least 1835 – at least 1839), John T. Leatherberry (1841 – 1844), James M. Oliver (1844 – 1845), James W. Twiford (1845 – 1848), Lavinia Twiford (1848 – 1849), Severn F. Mister (1849 – 1853), Thomas Underhill (1853 – 1855), James D. Underhill (1855 – 1856), George K. Turner (1856 – 1861), Richard Pruitt (1861), George Pruitt (1861 – 1865), W.A. Sears (1865 – at least 1867), J.J. Sterling (1868 – 1872), Thomas Tyler (1873 – 1883), L.D. Marchant (1883 – 1889), Edward A. Sibley (1889 – 1915), Charles Hardenberg (1916 – at least 1917).
  • Assistant: Nat G. Burriss (1867 – 1868), Severn J. Evans (1868 – 1869), William R. Byrd (1869), Thomas Tyler (1869 – 1873), Lorenzo T. Nelson (1874 – 1883), Nathaniel J.W. Le Cato (1883 – 1884), Francis E. Wilkins (1884 – 1890), George G. Ailsworth (1890), John W. Evans (1890 – 1899), John S. Dunlavy (1899 – 1901), H.J. Evans (1901), Arthur L. Small (1901 – 1903), George S. Holland (1903 – 1907), Charles C. Tyler (1907 – 1912), Edward R. Somers (1912 – 1914), Frank M. Gould (1914), George S. Holland (1914 – at least 1915).

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