Stratford Point Lighthouse

Abel Beach, in 1767, built the first house and barn on Stratford Point. It stood about twenty rods west of the lighthouse. His own residence was in the village across the street from the site of the first meeting house at Sandy Hollow. He was a prominent man in business and enterprise. Legrand Cannon, a merchant from New York City, bought the house and estate of Abel Beach at Stratford Point, about 1768 and Mr. Beachs homestead in the village east of Sandy Hollow opposite the site of the first meeting house. This house was built by Nathan Beach, father of Abel, in 1722, who left it to his son Abel. Mr. Cannon bought also a brig of Abel Beach, which he run to the West Indies. In 1785, Edward DeForest married Jerusha Cannon, daughter of Legrand Cannon and to this daughter the father gave the house and land at the point. Mr. DeForest lived there several years until he killed his wifes slave woman by stabbing her with a pitchfork, which created much talk, but nothing was done about it. The first lighthouse at Stratford Point was built in 1822. It was 28 feet high to the base of the lantern. The adjacent structure was the bell tower, installed in 1865 which took 20 minutes to wind and ran half an hour. Replaced in 1881 with the current structure.

The First Stratford Point Lighthouse

Stratford Point in the 1800's.

1872 Lordship lighthouse.


Stratford Point First Tower

Stratford Point in the 1800's.

1876 Lighthouse Point.

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

Original Lighthouse with bell tower

Old lighthouse.

Old lighthouse

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

1902 Lighthouse charcoal drawing

The Current Stratford Point Lighthouse

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

With bell tower in the 1800's

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

Crabbing at Point 1890's

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

1894 Lighthouse

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

1800's Lighthouse

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

Lighthouse after 1913

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

Lighthouse charcoal drawing

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

Lighthouse after 1911 with foghorn

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

Early Lighthouse Point

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

Early Lighthouse

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

Stratford Point Light

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

Lighthouse Point postcard


Lighthouse without band

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

Lordship lighthouse with carriages

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

1920s Lighthouse & Remington Gun Club

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

Lighthouse color postcard

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

Lordship Lighthouse Point


Lighthouse before 1908


Stratford Point 1908

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

1949 A Beacon at Night

Stratford Point in the 1800's.

1955 Lighthouse Point.

Stratford Point in the 1800's.

1966 Lighthouse.

Stratford Point in the 1800's.


Stratford Point in the 1800's.

Lordship lighthouse postcard.

Stratford Point in the 1800's.

Lighthouse Christmas card

Stratford Point in the 1800's.

Lighthouse without turrett

Stratford Point and Gun Club.

Lordship lighthouse crane

Stratford Point in the 1800's.

1978 Coast Guard Lighthouse

Above photos courtesy of the Stratford Historical Society

Stratford Point Lighthouse Keepers and Stories - The light must never go out.

June 15, 1832 Wharf near the Lighthouse on Stratford Point, Connecticut. An act authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to permit a wharf to be built near the site of the lighthouse on Stratford Point, in the state of Connecticut.

1864: A fog-bell at Stratford Point, for which a special appropriation was made by Congress, has been erected, and is now in useful operation. The signal consists of a bell, worked by clock-work machinery.

1867: STRATFORD POINT LIGHTHOUSE: The tower is of wood and shows signs of decay. The lantern, of an inferior model, rests on a brick parapet, and is constantly out of repair and leaky. The lighting apparatus, consisting of two range lenses in an iron frame, gives flashes too short in duration and at intervals too long. The tower should be rebuilt, and provided with suitable oil and store-rooms. The keeper's dwelling is in tolerable condition as yet, but rather small for a station with an assistant. It would therefore seem expedient to rebuild it at the same time as the tower. The fog-bell is of little or no use, and a more efficient one should take the place of it as soon as practicable.

1872: STRATFORD POINT LIGHTHOUSE: The buildings of this station are very old and unfit for occupation. An estimate for a suitable dwelling over which the tower may be placed, was submitted in the last annual report. It is recommended that the amount then submitted be appropriated, $15,000.

March 19, 1879 - John L. Brush, keeper of the Stratford light, has resigned and his resignation has been accepted by the proper officers. The cause is not stated,but perhaps the life was too exciting, dangerously accelerating the action of the heart. We say perhaps! Light housekeeping is not generally perilous.

July 21, 1880: NEW LIGHTHOUSE: A new lighthouse of iron and brick is to erected at Stratford Point in place of the ancient wooden structure now doing duty there. The new house will probably have a stationary white light.

AUGUST 8, 1888 - Keeper Judson, of the Stratford lighthouse, has a cocker spaniel dog that has become an expert fish catcher. He took up the sport of his own notion, and pursues it regularly and enthusiastically. The other day he carried to his master a two-pound-and-a-half eel.

JULY 18, 1897 - AGNES JUDSON, HEROINE How a Brave Connecticut Girl Rescued Two Drowning Men: Miss Agnes Judson of Bridgeport. Conn., a shy, modest girl in her teens, last week performed a deed of heroism worthy of Grace Darling. Miss Judson Is the daughter of the keeper of Stratford Point light-house. A few afternoons ago Herman Chase and Edward Howe of Bridgeport went in a small boat fishing off Stratford light. Around off the shore, while the tide was slack, they had excellent luck, but when the tide turned and begun running fast they attempted to pull up the anchor. In so doing they upset the boat and both were thrown into the rushing water. Chase could swim a little, but the other man could not at all. Chase managed to hold up his companion, however, but with this burden could not reach the upturned boat. He called loudly for help, but the scene of the accident was too far off to attract the attention of any one on the shore. Miss Judson was at that time in the lantern of the lighthouse, and she spied in the distance the two men struggling for their lives. Down the spiral stairs the young girl rushed, and as she reached the open door she seized the rope of the alarm bell and rang it violently a few times: then ran on the water's edge. On her way she seized a piece of rope, and with it plunged into the fast tide and swam bravely out. She had nearly reached the half drowned men when her father and brother came running down the beach, having heard the alarm bell, while they were at work in an adjoining field. They also plunged into the water to rescue a daughter and a sister. In case the men should in their terror, seize her. Miss Judson upon reaching the men threw the rope to them and aided Chase in supporting his half-unconscious companion. The father and brother swam to the boat, righted it and then reaching the others, soon had them safely aboard. Though half dead from fright and their wetting, the two men were soon none the worse for their accident, and after having dried their clothing, returned in their boat to Bridgeport. Miss Judson absolutely refused to receive from them any gift or recognition of her deed of heroism, seeming to be well satisfied with their profuse thanks.


Hero Agnes Judson

JUNE 20, 1911 - NOTE IN FLOATING CAN TELLS OF SEA DISASTER: A little tin can sealed at both ends floated ashore at the Stratford lighthouse the other day and was picked up by Theodore Judson, keeper of the light. On being opened the can was found to contain a scrap of old paper bag on which was written the following: "Ship Mary S. Crayne, London to River Platte, wrecked off Hatteras, February 2d, 1901. Have been on raft ten days. Last bit ate and drank. Please tell mother. James P. O'Reilly. No. 22 St. Catherine Street, Montreal, Canada."

July 11, 1911: LIGHTHOUSE BELL TOWER: The bell that for many years has hung in the tower of the Stratford lighthouse and served as a warning to sailors, has been taken down and the tower in which it hung has been demolished.

December 24, 1912: Captain Herbert Buck, while painting the tower at the Stratford lighthouse, fell from a ladder to the ground, a distance of over 30 feet. Keeper Thene Judson picked up the victim and found him in a dangerous condition. A hurry call brought a physician who found a fractured rid besides the shock of the fall. Captain Thene took in the patient and will care for him at his home. If there are no internal injuries, Captain Buck will be the first man to live after falling from a lighthouse tower. His escape is considered almost miraculous.


Lighthouse Point


Lighthouse Point


Off Stratford Point


Stratford Point 1902


Stratford Point 1906

Stratford point

Stratford Point 1910


Stratford Point 1914


Lighthouse 1914


Commercial Stats 1881


Stratford Point 1904


Lighthouse 1929

February 18, 1914 - VETERAN LIGHT KEEPER WILL BE SENT TO NEWPORT: After 34 years of faithful service on the Stratford Point Lighthouse, one of the most important beacons along the north shore of Long Island Sound, keeper Theodore Judson has been notified by Lighthouse Inspector Joseph Yates of Staten Island that after March 1 he is to take charge of an offshore light near Newport, R.I. When the news that Mr. Judson was to be transferred reached the offices of the Sound towing lines and officials of the various steamboat companies whose steamers ply up and down its waters, a spontaneous protest arose and as a result of the unanimous desire to have Mr. Judson retained in service at the post he has occupied for over three decades, a monster petition is being drawn up for presentation to the Navy department. Mr. Judson who is now 65 years old is much affected over the prospect of leaving Stratford Light. He declared to a reporter for The Post this morning that he had become attached to the place and that he would not feel at home anywhere else. He has not been notified as to who his successor will be. Captains of tugboats in the service of the McWilliams Blue line, the McWilliams Red Ball line, the McCaffrey line, the New England Steamship Company and masters of vessels belonging to towing companies in New Haven, New London, Norwalk and Bridgeport are strong in their statements that no improvement could be made over Mr. Judson at the Stratford Point Lighthouse. Our lives and vessels are that much safer while we know Judson is over on the light, said Captain Newton of the tug Robert Robinson of the McCaffrey line this morning. Not once during the 34 years he has been on the light have we missed his beacon and not once has there been a fog when his fog horn was not heard howling. He has made a great record for faithful service and if the lighthouse department makes the change the navigators of the Sound will have just that much less confidence in their work. In Stratford which is the home of Mr. Judson, a petition has been circulated in his behalf and several hundred names have already been signed. This protest against the removal of the faithful servant of the government will be extended to include signatures of the navigators who wish to testify to his value. Captain Samuel Lockwood of the tug Robert McAllister of Bridgeport, one of the veteran Sound pilots, declared today that the loss of Mr. Judson from Stratford Point would be practically irreparable. Whenever we want to know anything about Long Island Sound, from fish to weather, we can find out from Judson, said Captain Lockwood. He has held down an important job for years and during that time you could always bank on his light and his horn in the worst kind of weather. For years the New York towing companies such as McWilliams Blue line, the Red Ball line and the McCaffrey line have found Mr. Judson a valuable source of information. On all sides regret is expressed at the order he has received from the Lighthouse department. Mr. Judson while feeling keenly the prospective estrangement from the post with which he has become so closely associated, does not care to say much concerning the situation. I had hoped to stay here for what little of my life is left, he said this morning, but ten days ago I received the notice to go to Newport, which I understand is an offshore light. I hate to leave Stratford and it will seem very strange to have charge of another light. I have heard that there is a petition out to keep me here and I am thankful to those who are trying to help me. Note: The transfer would be cancelled and the most colorful person ever to live in Lordship would retire from the Stratford Lighthouse in February 1919 after 40 years of service at the Point.


Stratford Point 1905


Stratford Point 1905


Stratford Point 1905


Stratford Point 1907


Thene Judson 1918

February 20, 1914: LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER ALLEGES FRAME UP: Theodore Judson, keeper of Stratford Point Lighthouse, who was ordered to take charge of an offshore light at Newport, Rhode Island, declared today that he was a victim of a frame up. Judson has been the keeper of the Stratford Point Light for thirty-four years. Recently he has had trouble with his assistant, William Lavelle who preferred charges against his superior a short time ago. The charges were returned after an investigation with the statement that there was little or no foundation for them. Judson filed counter charges against Lavelle and now he has received orders from the lighthouse department on Staten Island to the effect that he would be transferred to Newport on February 28.

JULY 22, 1916 - Large Submarine Off Atlantic Coast: Theodore Judson, keeper of the Stratford light house, reports sighting at 9.45 a. m. today a large submarine bound east in Long Sound. The vessel was larger than the United States navy submarines, he says. He immediately notified this city, thinking the German submarine Bremen had arrived, but investigation showed that the vessel was a Lake submarine which had left earlier in the day. Commander R. H. M Robinson, general manager of the Lake Torpedo Boat company, says that the G-3, a United States submarine which came, to the Lake ship yards for repairs, left for New London.

April 20, 1917: STRATFORD LIGHT KEEPER TO RAISE CROPS THIS YEAR: Theodore Judson, keeper of the Stratford Light, is going to become a farmer on a large scale in accordance with governmental requests to all lighthouse keepers to plant as much land as possible on government reservations. There are about four acres on the Stratford point. About two acres is cultivatable, the rest being sandy beach. Mr. Judson will plant potatoes and onions largely with the balance in corn. The opportunities in Bridgeport and Fairfield for the raising of crops are negligible. At the Bridgeport and Penfield reef lights as well as the Middleground light there is no ground at all, these lights being built up from the rocks underlying the water which covers them at high tide.

JANUARY 9, 1918 - Stratford Keeper of Light Says Ice Worst Ever: Captain Theodore Judson, keeper of the Stratford Light says last week's storm was the worst in his many experiences at Stratford Point. There was more ice than he had ever seen and if the cold weather had continued a little longer the Sound, in his opinion, would have been frozen from shore to shore. Captain Judson has been in charge of the Stratford Light for over 20 years and in that time has seen many varieties of weather. When it is possible the genial captain comes up to the center afternoons and tells stories of the many strange happenings that have occurred near the lighthouse.

FEBRUARY 9, 1919 - VETERAN LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER RETIRED AFTER 40 YEARS OF WORK RECALLS CANDLE BEAMS: Captain Theodore Judson Says Candles Flickering Flame Served to Guide Mariners Away from Stratford Rocks When He Took Charge of Lighthouse Recalls Interesting Experiences and Boat Wrecks on Stratford Reef Will Devote Time to Farming. Bronzed and weather beaten by 40 years service as keeper of the Stratford lighthouse in which he saw the evolution from tallow candle power to the present kerosene lighting equipment, Theodore Thede Judson has just been retired and pensioned from the service. He is restless with inactivity now and as the memory of those long years which composed his life work come thronging back, there is a tinge of regret that the silver threads among the gold will no longer permit his active service in this capacity. A typical character for Joseph Lincoln, this grizzled sea dog and a most familiar figure in the old town, the picture of health which he presents belies his years. In the spring of 1880 he took the post on the isolated stretch of land known as Stratford Point. He had previously tried his hand at the painting and plumbing business, this aiding him greatly in the discharge of his duties, but for the most part he had been a follower of the sea. It was here that the four Judson children were reared and here they received the bulk of their education for a cow path was the only means by which the spot could be reached. When possible the children were carried five miles to the school at Stratford center in an old four seated carriage but in the cold winter months between Thanksgiving and April, the road was impassable and Mrs. Judson a school teacher in her younger days, drilled them in their lessons proudly asserting that on their return to school in the spring, they were far ahead of their classes. Mr. Judson humorously referring to the method of transportation states that the town owes him money as it is required to provide means for the children to go to and from school. It is a confirmed fact Mr. Judson states proudly that the Stratford light though not as powerful as many, can be seen farther than any other light on the Sound and that westbound boats pick up its beam even before that of the New Haven light while eastbound vessels see the beacon long before they record the Middleground light. When asked if he had any unusual experiences or adventures with fish, he gave a roaring laugh and without a moments hesitation narrated the following tale which he claims to be the truth. It seems that his son was accustomed to take fishing parties out in a small launch as the mouth of the Housatonic River abounds in mackerel, bass, blues and other species. On this occasion he was accompanied by two gentlemen who had been trolling without success for several hours; they were about to return when there was a fearful tug at the end of the lines which catching them unawares snapped the string and the large fish made off with about 75 feet of the line in tow. Encouraged by this the men stayed out for more than an hour longer and with a final troll approached the landing in shallow water. Again a tug was felt on one of the lines. The bottom could now be seen and it was noted that there was nothing on the hook. The tugging continued however and upon hauling in the line it has found to be entangled in another line, one end of which was wrapped securely around a large rock and on the other end was a big bass weighing more that five pounds. It was found to be the same fish which had escaped them earlier in the afternoon and in swimming around had caught the string on the rock which held it until the arrival of the fishermen. Despite the vigilance with which the light was tended storms and other perverse conditions caused a number of boats to be wrecked at this point which is one of the worst spots along the Sound. Among the wrecks within recall of the veteran keeper were those of the John Beatty, Ida Mathis and Jane. Several fishing smacks and yachts have been driven to pieces on the breakwater in the entrance opposite during a gale; four barges of the James McWilliams Line were swamped off the point. A schooner loaded with lumber was also beached on the shore. As a sideline, Mr. Judson took to breeding spaniels with which he claims to have fully supplied the Navy with mascots. He states that pets raised by him are now around the homes of Admirals Fighting Bob Evans, Snow, Rogers and McKenzie. Tracing the improvements made during his service he tells of the tallow candles which first gave power to the light, these later giving place to the improved lamps burning sperm oil. These in turn were relieved by lamps operated by lard oil, the final improvement providing kerosene. Until 1911 a bell was used to warn the passing ships of the dangerous shoals. Then sirens were added which now in foggy weather give howling blasts heard for many miles. Sharks have never been a real source of trouble in this section according to Mr. Judson who says they are not of the man-eating variety and only playful. He tells of wading around in shallow water after clams or eel pots while a five foot baby would be cavorting a short distance away and never thinking it cause for danger. A 300 pound sand shark was caught several seasons ago off this point but he believes their appearance is rare. Included in the list of visitors of note to the lighthouse in his day, were Admiral Winfield Schley famous in connection with his exploits during the Spanish-American War and as an artic explorer featuring in the rescue of Greeley, Mrs. Jessie Fremont wife of a presidential nominee, Admiral Jesse Roper, J.M. Blitts and E.W. Chadwick. When he first took the office it was under the direct supervision of the Army and Navy council who furnished inspectors but was later changed to the auspices of the Department of Labor. Mr. Judson speaks of the present injustice of the pension system. The pension provided for is three quarters of the average salary for the last five years of service. A short time ago lighthouse keepers throughout the country were granted a wage increase which would nearly have doubled his salary but he worked under this order so short a time that it mattered little in his pension award. From the point of his extended service he believes that consideration should be taken of this change. Mr. Judson has now moved up into Stratford Center and occupies the old Thompson homestead on East Broadway. He owns an extensive piece of property in the Lordship section where hi will spend the remainder of his summers in agricultural pursuits.

MARCH 27, 1919 - "THEDE" JUDSON QUITS STRATFORD LIGHT POST - Keeper There 39 Years, Captain Decides It's Time for Him To Get "Good Rest": Captain Theodore Judson, who has kept the Stratford Light for 39 years and has never taken a vacation, is to leave that service April 1, and devote the remainder of his days to getting a good rest. Captain Judson was born in Stratford, fished in the waters of the Sound and Housatonic River when a boy, learned the trade of plumber, and in 1880 was appointed keeper of the light. He had followed the seas to some extent before becoming a plumber. For about 30 years Captain Judson maintained the light without an assistant except what he received from his wife, a son, and his two daughters. About nine years ago, however, he was allowed an assistant. William Petzolt, who will succeed to the care of the light, comes from Stamford, and for a number of years had charge of the Governor's Island light in New York harbor.

JUNE 30, 1923 - HUNTING FOR BILL KIDD'S TREASURE: Connecticut has been the magnet for those hopeful souls who have tried to locate the treasure buried by the nefarious pirate, Captain Kidd. One of the most amusing attempts was made at Stratford Point in the middle 1850s. It is all told, most humorously by "Thede" Judson, the former keeper of the Stratford Point lighthouse.

JUNE 10, 1925 - HEAVY FOG HANGS OVER LORDSHIP HORN IS ACTIVE: Lightkeeper Pitzolt Keeps Double Vigil during Assistant's Absence. After experiencing nearly as many varieties of weather and temperature in a fortnight as the proverbial "57" ranging from nearly 100 in the shade, through hail and thunderstorms to 10 degrees above freezing, Lordship and the adjacent coastline settled down for the night to a dense fog at ten o'clock Monday evening, when Lightkeeper Pitzolt started the fog horn engine at Stratford Point. In the absence of Assistant Lightkeeper Dean, who is a away with Mrs. Dean on a two days trip to Hartford, Mr. Pitzolt must do relief-duty as well, which means a continuous vigil without delay until his assistant's return. Week-end guests of the Pitzolts were Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Taylor of Hartford. Among the many occupants of cottages in the Stratford Point colony are: Mr. and Mrs. Harry Curtis, Wallingford, Mr. and Mrs. William Glenny, Hartford, Mr. and Mrs. Charles B. Hart, Montclair, Mrs. Charles Miller and son Vining, and daughter Rosalie, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Benjamin, Pelham, N. Y., Mr. and Mrs. Harold Bradstreet and family, Stratford, who bought the former Roscoe Hart cottage, and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Sanford, Remington Street. Bridgeport who are in the Judson cottage. It was reported that Short Beach at the Point end, although remote and unseen by the majority of incoming motor-visitors, and unknown too many, was thickly packed all day Sunday until the early evening's gale suddenly swept inland. It was the largest crowd ever visiting at that point in one day, and a very comfortable retreat from the prevailing heat elsewhere.

1931 - STRATFORD POINT LIGHTHOUSE: Getting down to more modern times we still see the legend of the Ever Burning Light at Stratford Point being borne out. Theodore Judson a former keeper of Stratford Light and still living within sight and sound of his beloved tower has a wealth of romantic stories to tell of happenings concerning the light. Mr. Judson who has had over 40 years experience of lighthouse duty round these shores, once tended Old Stratford Light the tower that was erected on the Point in 1821. Mr. Judson tells vivid yarns of the extreme difficulty in the old days in keeping the light going both from the attacks of bird and the congealing of the lard oil on cold nights this form of oil being the only available illuminant. Thousands of birds of every species and description would flock round the naked night in the tower lantern after breaking the thin glass that protected the flame and frequently dash right into the flame itself nearly extinguishing it. Mr. Judson says that he has spent many an anxious night up in the lantern room in the old days battling with the birds and keeping them at bay so that the light might burn uninterruptedly. Then again on cold nights the lard oil with which the light was maintained would congeal and refuse to function, necessitating the use of a stove in the lantern room to keep the oil melted. It was quite a common occurrence declares Mr. Judson to find the lard tank in the morning literally filled with all manners of birds, insects and moths in millions, that had broken the lantern glass and had met their doom in the molten grease. Even today myriads of birds attracted by the mighty glare from the prismatic lenses, batter themselves nightly against the thick glass of the lantern. Morning invariably sees hundreds of shattered little bodies in the sea, on the grass and among the rocks as well as strewn all over the lantern gallery, victims of a hopeless battle against the radiance of the powerful electric glow with which the lighthouse is equipped. Why winged creatures persist in dashing themselves against unbreakable glass behind which gleam and flash warning rays that send their helpful message over Long Island Sound is a question to which even scientists find it difficult to give answer. But the fact remains that thousands of birds of every description are lost annually through this unaccountable yet persistent combat with the Stratford and other lighthouses. Not only are the sea birds victims, but myriads of others in their flight north for the summer season are attracted by the light as they swing over the marshes at Lordship. Many of species that are rarely seen in this locality are at times found battered at the base of the tower. The keepers of the Stratford Point Light tell of many strange birds that they have seen fluttering round the lantern at night during the hours when the lamp is burning, the soft thudding against the glass keeping up an unceasing tattoo during the long night watches. Among the many more or less common specimens they say are occasionally found some birds which very infrequently visit this region. So thick does this feathered crowd become at times that the Stratford lighthouse men report that it has the effect of depreciating the intensity of the light, thus lessening its range. Head Keeper W.F. Petzolt tells the story of how on one occasion he was down at the base of the tower when the crashing of glass echoed through the structure. Hastily dashing upstairs to the lantern room he found one of the glass panes of the outer windows shattered and a big duck-like bird flopping about inside the gallery. This bird proved to be one of the rare Fulvous Tree Duck species, a native of Mexico rarely if ever seen in the vicinity of Bridgeport. Eagles, bitterns, hawks, herons, varieties of gulls and ducks rarely seen alive in this locality are found dead by the keepers. A few summers ago a fine specimen of a duck resembling the elder was found by 2nd Keeper H. Dean floating among the rocks in the sea at the foot of the lighthouse, while Theodore Judson a former keeper of the Stratford Lighthouse relates how one stormy night he heard a violent banging and knocking at the window of the lantern. Opening the door leading on to the gallery he was struck a severe blow across the face by what seemed to be a large leathery wing which beat furiously into his eyes. Catching a glimpse of the creature as it came under the glare of the light he saw a large bird-like body with a short thick neck and wide flat head armed with a long powerful beak that viciously snapped and lunges at him. The creature at the same time kept uttering piercing shrill cries and fought furiously against the glass. Mr. Judson declares that the thing attacked him with its steel-like beak and long claws inflicting several nasty wounds. The bird got away. Mr. Judson can make no explanation as to the nature of the strange visitor. The records of the lighthouse show that there have been a large number of gallant rescues made by keepers of the light at various times of persons who had got into difficulty in craft among the rocks and in the mouth of the Housatonic River to the east of the Point. A few years ago the lighting apparatus was much improved, a new lens and vapor oils system being installed and the light considered up to date. At that time a modern compressed air fog horn was also installed. And on foggy nights the echoes of the Housatonic River are awakened by the mournful notes of the great horns flinging their penetrating warning far out into the Sound. With the ever increasing activity in navigation on the Sound and the value mariners placed on Stratford Light, the United States Lighthouse Service decided that it would still further increase the efficiency of the light be superseding the old oil system with electricity. And so today when the sun is set and the dark pall of night envelopes the Sound a beam of light sweeps from Old Stratford Point from a powerful 750 watt electric lamp operated by current derived by transmission wires from shore. By means of powerful prismatic lenses the light is caught up, collected and thrown out in one concentrated ray with an intensity of over 300,000 candlepower. Once every 30 seconds the flash sweeps the sea being visible for many miles, forming a strong reliable light visible in any fog, a light that mariners invariably use as their chief departure beacon in setting their course down the Sound. Electricity has also superseded the old gasoline engine in the operation of the fog horn which sends a three blast warning seawards every 40 seconds. Head Keeper Petzolt and Second Keeper James Kirkwood are on duty day and night. During the long hours between dusk and dawn there is much to be done in watching the light, keeping the mechanism that operates the revolving apparatus wound up, holding in readiness for immediate use the auxiliary oil burners that are installed in the lantern room in case the electricity fails. For it is the creed and motto of every member of Uncle Sams Lighthouse service that the light must never go out.

NOVEMBER 24 1933 - FISHERMAN SAFE AFTER DRIFTING 38 HOURS IN LONG ISLAND SOUND: Slowly finding his way back to life, Cornelius Wurst, 47, of New York City lay on a cot in Bridgeport hospital Thursday and told a story of lost hope as a result of having tossed helplessly about Long Island Sound for 38 hours in a 14-foot rowboat from Monday to Wednesday. William Petzolt, keeper of the Stratford light, found Wurst Wednesday as the exposure victim lay unconscious in the small boat in which he left Port Jefferson, L.I. on a clamming trip Monday afternoon. The boat, half full of water and with the lost oar gone, was drifting into Stratford harbor with the tide when seen by the keeper. Petzolt brought Wurst to shore where he dressed him in dry clothes and called the police. "It's too wonderful for words, Wurst said between periods of sleep "to be alive and breathing again after spending hours on the water and believing every moment was the last between yourself and a watery grave."

JANUARY 25, 1947 - STRATFORD POINT by Charlotte Lillingston: In the early seventies (1870) the lighthouse at Stratford Point (called the most southern extension of the New England Coast) was nearly as primitive as when it was first established by the government. Prior to this date there is no history available. The present lighthouse stands upon the same spot and is equipped with all modern aids to efficiency. There was a glamour over the old tower whose brilliant light through long lonely years faithfully warmed, Those who do down to the sea in ships of the dangers of reef and sandbar. The location on land made it possible to provide the keeper with a small comfortable dwelling for his family and the assistant keeper, also a small barn as shelter for the necessary horse and buggy the only available means of transportation. It was not permitted to keep a cow and this being before the days of canned milk; a half mile walk to the nearest house was a part of the price for a quart of milk. The government provided an acre of ground for raising vegetables for the table. Meat and groceries were obtained from the village four miles away with the aid of the family horse. As the roads were impassible at times during the winter months it was necessary to keep a stock of necessities on hand. It was a lonely and desolate spot in winter and as isolated as many of the offshore lights. There were no trees, the vegetation consisting of clumps of beach plums, sumac, bayberry and trailing blackberry vines. The keeper standing at the top of the tower looked toward a far horizon on every side; when the sun rose beyond the fine blue line that was the coast of Long Island, he seemed to stand on the Top of the World for he had no comparison. There were three houses within the three mile area, but so far away they furnished no real association. One house was a fine old farm house originally owned by an Englishmen of title who had long since passed away. This house was known to the village as The Lordship. It still stands in 1938 as the nucleus of the thriving settlement of summer cottages still bearing the name of The Lordship. The tower was a wooden structure painted alternately black and white, tapering from the ground to the lantern room which was (as it is now) a circular room enclosed by glass containing the lantern mounted on a clock constructed to operate the revolving light. The big lantern was like a circular two fold screen opening at the side and standing on edge. Each side had a bulls eye lens surrounded by ribs of prismatic glass. Expansion of these discs at the center made room for the burner with chimney. The clock was accurate and had to be wound every four hours. On top of the lantern was placed a brass reservoir containing lard oil which reached the burner through a brass tube. It was supposed to contain enough oil to last through the night but in winter it frequently has to be replenished before morning. In 1870 and prior to that date lard oil was used. It was non explosive and moderately illuminating, the lens magnified the flame until the beam was brilliant. In winter this oil congealed and had to be cut out of the tanks in chunks which were melted over a fire until it could be poured into the reservoir of the lantern. A coal fire was maintained all winter in a small cylinder stove on the floor below the lantern to keep the oil from congealing while the light was in operation. Beside the lighthouse tower on the side fronting the Sound was a frame structure known as the Bell Tower. This consisted of a massively built room, the roof of which formed a platform supporting the heavy bronze bell that was rung continuously during a fog. The machinery for ringing the bell was really an enormous heavy clock tuned to run four hours and alas it took a strong man a half hour to wind it up again. I do not know the names of the early Keepers but recall hearing the names of Van Wyck, Rufus Buddington, Benedict Lillingston, Theodore Judson.


Flying Boat 1931


Lighthouse 1939


McCourt 1962


Lighthouse 1967


Lighthouse 1967


Lighthouse 1967


Lighthouse 1967


Lighthouse 1982

March 18, 1949 - KEEPER OF THE LIGHT: After the first World War in which he served as a shipfitter on destroyers, Daniel McCoart, keeper of the Stratford Point Light returned briefly to his job in a factory in Providence briefly because in the recession of those days, single men were laid off first. With a friend, Dan went back to sea this time as a charter man for fishing parties. One day the friend suggested that keeping lights ought to be a good job. It seemed so to Dan and he put in for it. That was thirty years ago and Dan has been in the lighthouse service ever since. After three years at West Bank Light, where he met his wife, Marion Murray of Staten Island, Dan came to Bridgeport where he stayed 24 years. Hes been at the Stratford light three years. Sunday is supposed to be his day off but he was good enough to show us around anyway. With his wife and with William Shackley and his wife, Dan lives in the white clapboard house in back of the light. The first place he took us was into the power house, a spotlessly clean building with three big black motors in it, a maze of pipes painted marine grey and clusters of polished brass pitchers, trays and wick holders. The motors run the fog horns. Two of them are electric driven air compressors, the third a standby oil driven one with hot ball ignition, which starts with blow torches soaked in gasoline. We blow the horns whenever we cant see Middle Ground Light six miles directly south of here or Charles Island Light four and a half miles northeast. One of us of course is on duty all the time. When we start the motors, it registers on this pressure card here, Dan said. Over on the wall was a round machine with a face like a clock and card in it marked around the outside with two sets of twelve hours and concentric circled in blue. A little arm with a red pencil in it marked the times on the blue circles when the horns had been blown. That shows we had it working so if anyone says the horns werent blowing we can just look it up and see if they were, Dan said. A man well over six feet and big rather that heavy, Dan has a pink and white complexion and bright blue eyes. He was patient, explaining to this non-mechanical department how the motors and the card worked. Then he took us into the light. The round building had a set of circular stairs in it painter brown. The inside walls were grey with brown trim, all freshly painted and cleaned. Dropping down through the middle of the light were two cables and on the bottom of them weights. That turns the light. I will show you when we get upstairs, said Dan. He pulled down one of the weights. We climbed the stairs, our footsteps echoing hollowly in the small radius of the lighthouse. Up at the top was the light; a huge heavy glass faced lamp set in polished brass and mounted on a pot full of mercury. That keeps it absolutely even. That is a thousand watt bulb in there. We get about five hundred hours out of it. The light is turned on 15 minutes before sundown and 15 minutes after sunrise. Used to be right on the button and boatmen could set their watches by us. They changed it to give some men a little leeway. If they cannot do it right they should not be lighthouse keepers, I think, but anyway that is the rules, explained Dan. Dan set an arm in a cog and the light began to turn with methodical regularity. That is from the chains I pulled downstairs. Works like a clock when you wind it. It runs 5 hours and 20 minutes when it is would up tight and you get one revolution every thirty seconds. He stopped it and opened the face again. See that copper tube? If anything goes wrong with the electricity, we light that. We use electricity of course but if anything goes wrong with it, we are always ready. You have to be. That is the reason for lighthouses. Our heels rang on the iron stairs going down. Outside the wind was cold and whipping up white caps on the waves. The sun brightened and faded as clouds swept across its face. Ever have a wreck off there? we asked. Yes once since I have been here. Fellow in a two masted schooner. There is the mast still there. A thousand yards the other way and he would have been all right. Still if he had not had the light he would never have got to shore at all. Depends on how you look at it. Come and see us again.

January 19, 1967 - COAST GUARD TO GIVE UP LIGHTHOUSE KEEPING: Anywhere you hang your has is home we are told. If this is true and if you happen to be serving with the United States Coast Guard, you just might find the hook for your chapeau located in one of the many U.S. Coast Guard operated lighthouse stations situated along coastal areas. This is a situation being experienced by two young married couples who in September of this year set up housekeeping (lighthouse keeping that is) at the Stratford Point Light Station located in Lordship. These new residents to our area are Petty Officer 2C Gregory Janson, Jr. who hails from St. Louis, his charming wife Barbara, a Long Islander and their 2 year old daughter Dawn. The Jansons share the large white two family dwelling erected along side Stratford Point Lighthouse with SN Michael Brooks and wife Lynn, natives of Georgia. The Brooks are expecting to increase the inhabitants of the second floor apartment by one in the month of April. Petty Officer Janson who has 6 years service with the Coast Guard and Brooks an old salt of 18 months share in the responsibility of keeping the Stratford lighthouse operating in good order 24 hours a day. This famous old structure jutting out into Long Island Sound was constructed by the Lighthouse Service in the year 1820. Operation of the lighthouse was handled by the service until 1939 when it was taken over by the U.S. Coast Guard. Standing proudly at the top of the 40 foot structure is a solid brass light boasting 300,000 candle power. This light has for years served as a navigational aid to many a fog bound sailor. The light and all the numerous weather and fog apparatus housed at the station demands the scrutinous watch of the Coast Guardsmen who stand watch for 12 hour intervals. Maintenance of the exterior and interior properties is also included in their duty. At first glance one might consider the assignment ahead of these Coast Guardsmen desolate and lonely. But to anyone with a love for the sea and an appreciation of historic landmarks, the next two years should prove to be an experience worthwhile. Soon within 24 months the modernization plans of the U.S. Coast Guard will take effect. This will mean that many of the lighthouses now manned by Guardsmen will be operated automatically from the home base at Eatons Neck, Long Island. Since the Stratford Light Station is part of the Eatons Neck Group operating under Commanding Officer K. Outten, it is one of the first scheduled for the change. For Mrs. Janson and Mrs. Brooks life at the station is as normal as living anywhere else with a few added attractions. There are few families around who can look out of their windows and enjoy the view of a beautiful seascape glorified with each new season. Both ladies exercise their domestics in the lovely apartments furnished by the government with all utilities and repair bills paid for by Uncle Sam. They have telephones, automatic washing machines and most of the modern day necessities. Doctor bills and other medical expenses are absorbed by the government. Because they are stationed more than fifty miles away from a base they are also allowed free choice of physicians. Mrs. Brooks who has been under the care of a local obstetrician during her pregnancy will also if all goes well, deliver in an area hospital. About the only thing different in the lives of these ladies is the fact that they do most of their grocery shopping 50 miles away at the New London commissary. Petty Officer Janson who plans to be a twenty-year Guardsmen and Seaman Brooks think highly of their present situation and plan to enjoy their 24 month stay as Stratford Lighthouse Keepers.


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