The death this past January of 94 year-old Beulah Covell-Myers will leave a void at this year’s 100th Anniversary of Minnesota’s Split Rock Lighthouse.
Beulah, who had planned to attend the big celebration, was the daughter of Franklin J. Covell who was one of only two men ever to have served as the Head Keeper of the famous lighthouse that sits majestically high above the waters of treacherous Lake Superior.
Although she had lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia, a long way from the lighthouse, she was planning on attending the event. And why not. She had been back numerous times in the past. Over the years, she and her sister had been invaluable in sharing photos and memories of what life was like at the lighthouse in the days when families lived there.
Her father was a veteran lighthouse keeper, having joined the United States Lighthouse Service in 1913 when it was under the Bureau of Lighthouses. He began his career as a 2nd assistant keeper at Split Rock Lighthouse where he served until he was transferred in 1916. He went on to serve at Fourteen Mile Point, Superior Entry and Two Harbors lighthouses. In-between that time he returned briefly to Split Rock. He returned again in November of 1924 as 1st assistant keeper until he was promoted to Head Keeper in 1928, a position held until his retirement in May of 1944. During that time he witnessed the difficult transition in 1939 when the Lighthouse Service was taken over by the Coast Guard.
As a small child growing up at the lighthouse, Beulah recalled that the children were required to play outside during the day so her father could sleep, because he was generally up most of the night making sure the light was properly operating. The kids were not allowed to cross the front sidewalk, which was close to the edge of the cliff. In her early years at the lighthouse the family was required to vacate the premises in the winter months when the lighthouse was closed. Each winter they had to move into town. In later years, with the improvement of transportation, they were allowed to stay at the lighthouse all year, which they sincerely appreciated.
Beulah had a common preservation bond with many of the dedicated others who lived at and grew up at lighthouses. In referring to future generations, she said, “They mustn’t forget.” She often would talk about how the buildings tell part of the story, but without the human factor; what the keepers and their families did and their role in saving lives, a person really couldn’t understand the full impact of lighthouse history.
This story appeared in the
March 2010 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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