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Determining the Facts

Reading 3: The Lighthouse Letter

Following is a copy of the letter William Gilley received appointing him keeper of the newly built lighthouse on Baker Island.

Collectors Office
District of Portland and
Falmouth
June 19, 1828

I have the pleasure to inform you that the President has appointed you to be keeper of the light house on Bakers Island, near Mount Desert, with a salary fixed at three hundred and fifty dollars per annum.

It will be necessary for you to reside and be steadily in the house provided for the keeper.

Major Cornelius Grinnell will furnish the establishment with oil, tube-glasses, wicks, buff skins and whiting; and when the buildings are finished and the light house fitted up and furnished, you will have the light house lit up during the nights. Further instructions in relation to your duties with the forms of accounts and returns will be sent you as soon as they can be prepared.

W, Iesley the agent will deliver over to you the buildings and appurtenances, for which you will give him your receipt. Please to acknowledge your acceptance of the appointment, and inform me of the night you intend first to light up the lantern.

I am respectfully,
Your obedient servant
Issac Iesley
Superintendent of Light Houses in Maine

Mr. William Gilley
Keeper of Light House
Bakers Island

Questions for Reading 3

1. Describe what life might be like for a lighthouse keeper in the past and today. Do you think this position changed life for the Gilleys on Baker Island? If so, how?

2. Why were lighthouses necessary to coastal islands? Are they still necessary today?

Reading 3 was provided courtesy of Acadia National Park.

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National Park Service arrowhead with link to NPS website.