She Was 12 When She Saved Her First Life…Happy 175th Birthday to Lightkeeper Ida Lewis!


Art by Lydia Nichols.

“Lewis made her first rescue in 1854, coming to the assistance of four men whose boat had capsized. She was 12 years old…


Her most famous rescue occurred on March 29, 1869. Two soldiers, Sgt. James Adams and Pvt. John McLaughlin, were passing through Newport Harbor toward Fort Adams in a small boat, guided by a 14-year-old boy who claimed to know his way through the harbor. A snowstorm was churning the harbor’s waters, and the boat overturned. The two soldiers clung to it, while the boy was lost in the icy water. Lewis’s mother saw the two in the water and called to Ida, who was suffering from a cold. Ida ran to her boat without taking the time to put on a coat or shoes. With the help of her younger brother, she was able to haul the two men into her boat and bring them to the lighthouse. One of them later gave a gold watch to Lewis, and for her heroism she became the first woman to receive a gold Congressional medal for lifesaving. The soldiers at Fort Adams showed their appreciation by collecting $218 for her.

Because of her many rescues, Lewis became the best-known lighthouse keeper of her day. During her 54 years on Lime Rock, she is credited with saving 18 lives, although unofficial reports suggest the number may have been as high as 25… ”


From Google Doodle blog February 25, 2017:

‘It wasn’t until perhaps my fourth or fifth visit to the littlest state of Rhode Island that I spotted the unassuming lighthouse nestled on a tiny island of its own in Newport’s harbor. Usually the title “lighthouse keeper” conjures images of men in beards wearing stiff blue coats, so I was absolutely delighted to learn that Rhode Island’s most famous lighthouse keeper was Idawalley Zorada Lewis. Declared “America’s Bravest Woman” before her tenure was through, Ida had been hailed as Newport’s best swimmer and one of its strongest rowers ever since taking over for her ill father as as guardian of the harbor. She made her first save at twelve and didn’t stop until the age of sixty-three.I


There are no definitive records of Ida’s rescues and she was too modest to recount them herself, though some were documented in local newspapers and at least one garnered national attention; in February of 1881 she ventured into the bitter winter winds to rescue two soldiers who had fallen through the ice while traveling on foot. This act of bravery caught the attention of President Grant who shortly thereafter awarded her the prestigious Gold Lifesaving Medal. Eleven years after her death, the Rhode Island legislature voted to rename her former home, Lime Rock Lighthouse, as Ida Lewis Lighthouse in her honor.


It’s important to remember that being a lighthouse keeper required unwavering courage, sheer physical strength, constant diligence, and a willingness to put one’s own life on the line. Ida was so dedicated that supposedly she would rush into inclement weather without shoes or coat so as not a waste a single second. Her life and legacy were not only an honor to research and illustrate, but truly a source of inspiration.’

(Photos/Art: Wikipedia; Google Doodle)

The Altar in the Hills and Other Weird Tales by Brandon Barrows


From the title story, which pays homage to the work of New England writer of weird tales Howard Phillips Lovecraft

Theodore Wallace
c/o Drummer Hotel
9 Church Str.
Drummer, New Hampshire

August 3rd, 1921

Master Bertram Kincaid
44 Cottonwood Lane
Montville, Connecticut

My dear Bert –

It’s been some time since I’ve written, though I did receive your letter this past Christmas and have simply not found the time to respond; churlish, I know, but I hope you won’t hold it against me. Life has been hectic with studies at the University and especially with work progressing apace on my master’s thesis. Professor Wilmarth has taken me a bit under his wing and helped direct my researches to the proper areas of study. As you know, I’m working on a paper analyzing the integration of the old native pagan beliefs, still found in pockets around our own good old New England, with the formalized belief systems of the various Christian denominations settlers brought with them from Europe. It’s really fascinating stuff, trying to determine what tidbit came from where and Wilmarth’s extensive (though amateur, according to his own assessment) knowledge of New England folklore has been invaluable in focusing my work.

I’ve spent the last four months traveling to corners of Maine and New Hampshire, visiting villages scarcely changed from their founding, interviewing people who barely know it’s the twentieth century, much less have entered it. There’s a treasure trove of untapped history in these places, Bert. This is the real New England – raw and rough, with people who not only survive, but thrive away from the modern comforts we’ve grown so used to. And the things they tell me, why they’re positively arcane. Some of the stories, tales they believe as firmly as they know the sky is blue, seem so utterly naïve you’d think this was Europe in the Dark Ages, rather than the Industrial Age of the United States. Well, I suppose you’ll read all about it when my thesis is published, as I’m sure it will be.

But I’m digressing a bit from the real reason I’m writing. As you probably saw, I’m writing this from a little hamlet in the north of New Hampshire called Drummer. It’s not terribly far, as the crow flies, from Lancaster, where I’ll have to head to mail this tomorrow or the next day and maybe soak up a bit of civilization before moving on. If I recall correctly from our school days together, your own people hail from this general neck of the woods a few generations back.

I came here chasing a story about some sort of heathen altar built up in the hills that old Cotton Mather makes passing reference to in his Magnalia Christi Americana, though basically just to say good Christians should keep their distance. I couldn’t find any other mention of it in Miskatonic’s library and when I mentioned it to Wilmarth, the fact that even he knew very little about it piqued my interest a good deal. Well, the folks here are quaint, to say the least, and mostly friendly though it took more than a bit of coaxing to get any information at all about this hunk of stone.

They don’t get many visitors and mentioning the thing just shut everyone down at first – fearing the thing is regarded as the healthiest attitude towards it. Once they warmed up to me, with the introduction of a sympathetic local, I at least found out its location and took a little visit up there myself, though I couldn’t see what the big to do was. It’s certainly man-made, but it’s not covered in Satanic script or anything and the area it’s in is really quite pleasant. Supposedly it’s a different story under the light of a full moon; they tell me it becomes a demon-haunted place where the foulest of rituals are practiced. Nobody who’d talk to me has seen anything for themselves, of course – it’s just one of those things they take as a given. I’ve been here over a week now and I haven’t decided if I’ll stay to find out the truth for myself, though the full moon is coming up in a few days or so.

Well, Bert, old boy, I should be wrapping this up. I’m sorry if I bored you with my scribblings, but I did owe you a letter and being so close to your homeland made me feel even guiltier.

I hope this letter finds you well and busy enough that my lack of writing didn’t sour you on your old chum Ted. I plan to spend a couple weeks traveling down through Vermont, on Wilmarth’s advice, and on my way home to Arkham, I’ll take the long way around and circle down to you for a visit. If all goes to plan, I’ll be seeing you sometime in mid-September and I’ll be sure to bring along a jug of that hard cider I know you love.

With warmest regards,

Theodore Wallace

– Brandon Barrows, “The Altar in the Hills”, Raven Warren