Levi D. Marchant
Levi D. Marchant was born in 1856 in Mathews, Virginia. Marchant joined the Lighthouse Service when he was 26 and retired after 38 years of service. Thirty-two of those years were spent at Stingray Point Lighthouse. This is believed to be one of the longest tenures by a Keeper at a single lighthouse on Chesapeake Bay.
Marchant began service at Stingray Point in the summer of 1889. During an interview with a reporter with the Baltimore Sun, Marchant said "During very stormy weather, with the seas running high, the station shook badly. It is supported by six small iron piles and I have seen it sway back and forth like a rocking chair."
"The most lonesome time I experienced was during the winter of 1912, when I was alone for 30 days in a freeze. The tower shook while the ice drifted around the station and the Chesapeake was covered with ice as far as the eye could see. There was nothing to look at but fields of ice."
Levi Marchant died in 1943 at age 87 and is buried at Mathews Baptist Church Cemetery, Hudgins Virginia.
The above information was researched by the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society. The Chesapeake Chapter of the Lighthouse Society hosted a public event at the Mathews Baptist Church Cemetery in April 2019. Thirty members of the public and U. S. Coast Guard personnel at Station Milford Haven and Coast Guard Auxiliary attended to honor Keeper Marchant.
Charles Edwin Respess
Charles Edwin Respess was born in July of 1862 at his parent's home on Barn Creek on Gwynn's Island. Respess joined the Lighthouse Service when he was 28.
He had served on Windmill Point Lighthouse for 8 years when he drowned at age 52. He was returning to his home on Gwynn's Island after completing his 10-day tour at the Lighthouse. It was March 5, 1915 and a cold, stormy afternoon. His Lighthouse Service yawl was found the next morning on the east shore of Gwynn's Island. It was found with a broken mast and some of his personal belongings. His body was nearby.
Respess was sadly missed by his wife 'Lovie' and their two young daughters. It was told that the family dog had howled all the night when he went missing. Respess had completed 25 years of exemplary lighthouse keeper service to the time of his demise. His wife & other family members are buried at the Gwynn's Island Cemetery.
The above information was researched by the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society. The Chesapeake Chapter hosted a public event at the Gwynn's Island Cemetery in April 2018. Twenty-five members of the public and family attended. Mathews Coast Guard Auxiliary members presented the colors at the ceremony. Shown presenting the colors, from left to right, are Flotilla Commander Jim Gierlak, Flotilla Vice Commander Don Connolly and Staff Officer John Bonner. Not shown, Staff Officer Tom Edwards playing Taps on the electronic bugle.
To the date of November 2023, the Chesapeake Chapter of the Lighthouse Society and members of the USCG Auxiliary, Mathews Flotilla 66, have honored the 25 Mathews County Keepers. The pictures and write-ups for each keeper are on display on the 2nd floor of the museum. In addition, there are pictures and write-ups for the four original lighthouses located near Mathews County. Those four lighthouses are the New Point Comfort, Wolftrap, Stingray Point, and Windmill Point.