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Day 199 – Saturday, April 21, 2012

“Horns, Hell And A Whole Lotta Loadin’”


This morning’s rain is now just a briny mix of mist, although this won’t last.  We are in for a lot, as in traploads of rain, and heavy winds for the next four days.  Visibility is less than one hundred yards as the ocean’s bubbling fades to nothingness.  While this island’s foghorn stays true, sounding crisp and bright, the last two hours have heard a new player.  A deep and booming, strong but almost tragic moan of another.  She is most probably that of the USCGC Abbie Burgess, a 175-foot Coastal Buoy Tender that makes an appearance up here several times a year.  This would however be the third Coast Guard vessel in the last five days, and that’s highly unusual.  I think that a dozen of them, foghorns that is, if orchestrated, would make a soothing symphony.  I am comforted with two.


Abbie Burgess by the way, was an American lighthouse keeper who lived during the 1800’s, and was best known for her bravery in tending the Matinicus Rock Light, in Maine, during a raging winter storm in 1856. She tended the light for nearly a month while her father, the head keeper, was away from the island. Her heroic actions attracted much attention, and she was soon a popular heroine.  Burgess later married a lighthouse keeper, and spent fifteen years as the keeper at White Head Light. After her death in 1892, a memorial in the form of an aluminum scale replica lighthouse was placed over her grave in Spruce Head Cemetery.  She makes for an excellent educational/biography character for students.  Please explore the Lighthouse Digest Magazine archives for much more information on Abbie at

Here’s a snap of dawn on Tuesday…






The delay in posting is due to the fact that I have spent the last three days in my first ever MacBook hell.  My start-up disk is full although does not appear to be.  I cannot do most functions I attempt, nor can I upload any pictures from the week.  I seem to be making some progress but it is slow and arduous.  And is continuing to push my patience to the limit.  Oh, and my camera disk is full and I can’t dump it.  I have only now been able to access and load the photos from early in the week, seen in this post.  But that is the reason for the delay.  Sorry.

This week was filled with a whole lotta loading, from yards, barns, garages and warehouses, onto trailers, and from there onto boats.  Most of this is done in the afternoon, often after having made a run of setting in the morning, so that the boats are ready to go first thing.  I helped with a few, and personally loaded 100 traps onto Norb’s trailer, then helped get them aboard the F/V Christina Marie.  Hard work, and it’s amazing how chaotic the barren deck becomes, and as you get towards the end, loading the barrels of rope, how little room is left.  To move.  To work.










Spring comes slowly up here.  And with spring will come a great deal of work that needs to be done at Little River.  The short list is that the Tower needs painting desperately, as does the outside of the Keeper’s House.  We need to replace my favorite boat, The Ilsa Lund, and the chimney albeit no longer used, also needs fixing.  That means we need to raise funds.  Any help you can give in the way of donations, or introductions to those individuals, companies and foundations that would like to support our mission, would be greatly appreciated.

Hopefully, in the next day I will have my technical issues worked out.  There will be some interesting things to report including a visit from The Lobster Thief, a visit from Bangor Metro Magazine, and as I recall, some very nice snaps.  Assuming I don’t wash away in the little river than runs through the cellar in these heavy rains.


Thanks for checking in, reading, Liking and sharing.  And for your patience.  The Light is on.  The Horn is bright.  Good Enuf.




13 Responses to “Day 199 – Saturday, April 21, 2012”

  1. Joan says:

    My great grandfather was the next keeper after Abbie Burgess Grant and her husband left. He was keeper at Whitehead for fifteen years also. I have paid my respects at Abbies graves several times.

    • Bill Kitchen says:

      so very cool joan! what was his name? and thanks for adding that.

      • Joan says:

        Frank N. Jellison. From Whitehead he was sent to St. Croix light and then he retired from Whitlock Mills light. Over thirty years in the Light Service. His brother Joe followed him and he also retired from Whitlock Mills. Frank’s son George also was a keeper at Swan’s Island. I love the coast of Maine and I love the people. They are so real, the salt of the earth. I am so glad that you have met these wonderful folks and had the time to really get to know them. You have a new family to add to yours.

        • Joan says:

          I might add that Joe worked on the construction of Crabtree Light in Frenchman Bay off Hancock Point. The light is no longer standing. That was before Frank and he became keepers. Frank’s wife was a great granddaughter of Agreen Crabtree (the pirate) that the Crabtree Light was named after.
          Aarg….I have pirate blood in my veins along with a lot of salt.

          • Tim Harrison says:

            I don’t seen to recall having photos of Joe or George Jellison in our files. We’d love to have copies of them e-mailed to us so we could publish them.
            Frank Jellison’s photo is in the book Lighthouses of the Sunrise County

  2. Tim Harrison says:

    For those of you who are following this, a photo of Frank Jellison, in his keepers uniform is on page 132 of the book, “Lighthouses of the Sunrise County,” which is available at The book is also a good place to learn about the history of Little River Lighthouse. A number of years agao, the late Ken Black and myself raised the money, which we processed through the American Lighthouse Foundation, to restore the gravesites of Abbie Burgess and the Grant family of lighthouse keepers.
    I’d love to have a photographs of Joe Jellison and George Jellison. I don’t think we have photos of them in our files at Lighthouse Digest. Images can be e-mailed to me at

  3. Carole says:

    Bill – I am sorry about your computer problems what a royal pain.

    Many people do not realize how much work the Coast Guard does along the coast of Maine. I have seen the Coast Guard Buoy Tender the Abbie Burgess several times as I have traveled the coast of Maine. If I am not mistaken she is stationed in Rockland.

    I went to a meeting a week ago at USM or University of Southern Maine about what is involved in teaching a course at OLLI. Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Volunteers teach 6 or 8 week courses of 2 hours each. OLLI is a life learning and educational program for people over age 50. Having taken some courses we OLLI students are very on the top of educational learning curve. I presented what I had been working about Woman at Lighthouses/Women Lighthouse Keepers. At this meeting they thought that I will have enough to do two terms or 16 weeks in total. My goal is to have it ready for one of the Spring of 2013 sessions. Yes, Abbie Burgess Grant is going to high on my list of topics. The University of Maine system is interested my course developmentof this topic. I am going to be getting a staff advisor to help me out. At the end meeting I make the mistake of mentioning Pirates. You guessed they want me to get a course together on Pirates or Privateers.

    • Tim Harrison says:

      Several years ago the crew of the Abbie Burgess came out and voluteeered their time to help paint the tower at Little River Lighthouse. It would be nice to get them back.

  4. Rolf & Deb & Grace says:

    In Sept of ’10. we spent a week in Maine and easily located the Spruce Head Cemetery where Abbie Burgess is buried. Unfortunately, the big iron access gates were locked in the middle of the afternoon, and fearing that locals would call the sheriff on us if we climbed over the gates, we were unable to actually walk into the cemetery to view the headstone. It was very disappointing to say the least. Our school-age daughter had read “Keep The Lights Burning, Abbie” several times and had wanted to see the final resting place of this heroine of the lighthouse. It was not to be.

    • Bill Kitchen says:

      maybe another time. yes, she’s a great heroine for kids to do a project on. so glad you’re following.

  5. Lee Leighton says:

    Nice photo of the sunrise. Glad to see someone else gets up early to enjoy the peaceful and quiet time of the day. Hope to meet you soon Bill, I have enjoyed reading your log.


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