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Bray's Point (Rockwell), WI  Privately owned, no access without permission.   

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Bray's Point (Rockwell) Lighthouse

Born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1880, William Bray was educated in local public schools and then attended Northwestern University and Harvard. After returning to Oshkosh, Bray worked in the family’s lumber business and served in the State Assembly before being elected a State Senator in 1914.

Postcard showing Bray’s Point Lighthouse
In 1907 and 1908, Bray acquired several parcels on the point just east of where the Fox River enters Lake Winnebago. Known now as Bray’s Point, this land was fairly isolated at the time, but Bray renovated an old house on the point and then built a private harbor on the property for his pleasure craft. The property became a showplace, and Bray even entertained President William Taft there in 1911.

Bray was an avid sailor, and in 1905, his yacht Glyndwr won the championship of the Inland Lake Yachting Association. As Commodore of the Oshkosh Yacht Club, Bray was well versed in local maritime concerns, and he decided he needed a proper lighthouse to mark his harbor as well as the entrance to the Fox River. George A. Rockwell, an Oshkosh architect educated at Cornell, drew up the plans for the lighthouse in 1909, but died unexpectedly at the age of forty-one after the final drawing was finished. Bray had the lighthouse built in 1910. The octagonal, concrete lighthouse displayed a fixed red light at a height of twenty-six feet above low water and appeared on Light Lists for several decades as Rockwell Lighthouse, though locally it was often known by the name of the family who currently owned the property on the point.

The property on the point was sold in 1917 to Harry C. Stutz, manufacturer of the Stuz Bearcat, a well-known American sports car. Just over a year later, the title was transferred to Frank H. Wheeler, a member of the Stutz firm, and then John C. Thompson, a prominent OshKosh attorney, purchased the property in 1918. Thompson remodeled and enlarged the house on the point and restored the lighthouse.

After Bray sold his lighthouse and home on the point, he moved to Oregon, where in 1921, he purchased a lumber company and renamed it the Braymill White Pine Lumber Company. Bray died in southern Oregon in 1946.

Light Lists show that the Rockwell Lighthouse was operated by the Cook & Brown Lime Company, major shippers on the Fox River, in the 1920s and early 1930s. John C. Thompson is listed as operator of the lighthouse in 1934, and then A.J. Coffey, superintendent of the Cook & Brown Lime Company, is listed as being responsible for the light from 1942 to 1947.

John Buckstaff, Thompson’s son-in-law, purchased the property in the mid-1940s, and Buckstaff is listed as the operator of the lighthouse from 1948 until at least 1965. Rockwell Lighthouse no longer appears on the Coast Guard’s official Light List.


  1. “Lighthouse is Sentinel on Fox River,” Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, April 21, 1961.

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