Death Island Lighthouse

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Loren Graham is a historian who has written widely both on the history of science and on the history of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. One of his books was a finalist for a National Book Award. He was a professor for many years at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. He lives in the winters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in the summers in Old North Lighthouse on Grand Island in the Upper Peninsula, which is pictured on the dust jacket of this book. At the lighthouse he enjoys nature, writes books, and lives happily with his wife and best friend of 58 years, Patricia.

Diepolder as it appeared in May The Orleans House hotel, once operated by Samuel Kilborn, now a private residence, at it appeared in May The garage in the background is situated on property once owned by Michael Diepolder. In September , Michael sent a petition to the re gional lighthouse board engineer asking to be appointed as keeper of Rock Island Lighthouse. Sadly, before he received a decision, Mary died on 22 February at just 25 years 10 months 29 days, after being sick with consumption a form of tuberculosis for three years.

Michael was a widower once again, and this time had a child to care for—and they were about to become the only two residents of Rock Island. On the merits of his petition, Isaac B. On 25 September , he permanently replaced the former keeper, Foster M. Drake , and on 20 July , Michael was promoted to Principal Keeper. Rock Island Lighthouse station as it appeared the year before Michael J.

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Diepolder took over. On the night of 15 August , while Michael was on duty, the three-masted schooner A. Vickery struck a shoal near the station and sank , resulting in no loss of life, but causing great financial loss to its owners. Michael's inscription in an early station logbook. Around this time, Michael's mother and stepfather, Salome and Josef gave up proprietorship of the Plessis Hotel and removed to Rochester, Monroe County, where they continued in business together.

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There "Joseph Klupfel" was listed in the Rochester city business directory as operating a saloon 59 Chatham St. Michael's lighthouse logs indicate that during the 's his mother continued to live in Rochester, and he took advantage of the opportunity by sending his daughter, Ada , there for schooling. Ada lived with her grandparents during the school year and came home on weekend and holidays to visit her father at the station. Some of Michael's records show that Ada and "her grandfather" visited the lighthouse, references to Josef Klupfel, who was the only "grandfather" Ada ever really knew, since both Engelbert Diepolder and Samuel Kilborn were dead by the time Ada was three.

Sometime between and , Michael took Emma E. In the marriage record, Michael's occupation was given as "saddler," echoing his occupation of "harness maker" that was previously indicated in the census, and illustrating that lighthouse keeping was not his only line of work. Interestingly, his name was anglicized as "Michael John" by the recorder, and his mother's name was given as "Helen" Steiner rather than as Salome.

His religious denomination was given as Episcopalian, and Emma's was given as Methodist.

The officiating minister was Rev. Reynolds, and the ceremony was witnessed by John H. The marriage record gave Thousand Island Park, on Wellesley Island, directly across the river from Rock Island, as their place of residence at the time of marriage. Thousand Island Park was, and remains to this day, a collection of cottages which residents rented from a corporation thus being impermanent residences; it is unclear whether Michael retained his home at LaFargeville concurrently.

In the fall of , after years of Michael's petitions to the Lighthouse Service, work began to raise the light tower approximately five feet from its position in the center of the island , so it could be seen over the roof of the dwelling. It was raised atop a new solid octagonal wall of red granite laid in Portland cement mortar beneath. Michael was involved in overseeing the workers and tracked their progress in the station logs.

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Work was completed that fall. He was also quite a handyman himself, often cutting glass for windows, carving wood for house repairs, painting the outbuildings, planting geraniums and roses in spring, and even digging a root cellar: "There, now there is a decent vegetable cellar!

In , a photographer visited Rock Island and captured the only known image of Michael Diepolder at the station. The Inspector told her to take down the swing-out lamp she had over the stove to help her see while it cooked. That Fateful Day Dalzell was going to visit J. Franklin Anthony that fateful day in Anthony was the caretaker at the Herbert L. Satterlee summer estate at Schooner Point.

It was there that Buster was going to pick up some batteries for his new boat that he had just finished building; a boat which he was proud of.

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It had taken many long weeks of hard work, but it was now finished. All it needed was some batteries for the motor.

Perhaps it was an iceberg, but what really happened next no one will ever know. Pinkham remembered another errand that he wanted done on the mainland. He telephoned the Satterlee estate. Fearing that something had happened to his assistant, whom he considered a friend first, he immediately called Chief of Police George C.

Abbott in turn called the Coast Guard and soon police and Guard boats as well as an airplane were searching for Dalzell.

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Keeper Pinkham launched his own boat for his own search. It was over a month later that the Gloucester trawler Eliza C. She never remarried, telling Franklin that no one could ever replace his father. He remembered many a night that they would sit by the fire while he asked questions about his father and lighthouse living.

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