Matinicus Rock and Whitehead Light Stations
From 1854 to 1875, Abbie Burgess Grant served as assistant keeper at Matinicus Rock Light Staion on desolate Matinicus Rock, an isolated, rocky island some 15 miles off the coast of Maine. Abbie moved to Matinicus Rock with her family, following her father's appointment as keeper in 1853. Captain Samuel Burgess taught 17-year-old Abbie to fill the lanterns atop the twin towers with oil, trim the wicks, and clean the lenses. He soon felt comfortable enough to leave her in charge for several days while he journeyed to the mainland for supplies. In 1856, Captain Burgess set out on a similar trip, at which time one of the largest storms of the nineteenth century hit Matinicus Rock. The storm raged for about one month, as Abbie independently tended the lights in addition to caring for her sick mother and siblings.
Abbie Burgess kept Matinicus Light until she married Isaac Grant. The couple moved to Whitehead Light Station in 1875, where she served as keeper for more than 15 years. Whitehead is the third oldest station in Maine, and is located on the west side of Penobscot Bay, guiding ships toward the important coastal communities of Rockland, Camden, Belfast and Searsport. The U.S. Coast Guard later honored Abbie by naming a Keeper Class buoy tender Abbie Burgess (WLM-553).
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