Six lighthouse keepers assigned to the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse in the late 1800s and early 1900s had bronze markers placed at their gravesites in honor of their service during ceremonies May 14.
Members of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation unveiled the Lighthouse Service grave markers at three ceremonies for the former keepers, who are buried in three cemeteries on Merritt Island and in Cocoa.
“You think about the life that lighthouse keepers led with their families and their cohorts and the little communities that grew around lighthouses and truly how important it was to the world and our nation,” said Larry Ostarly, the lighthouse foundation president. “I just want to say thank you to the lighthouse keepers.”
Four of the men who served at the 154-year-old lighthouse are interred
at Crooked Mile Road Cemetery — also known as Georgiana Cemetery — on Merritt Island, where the main ceremony took place. John Ludwig Sturk was a keeper from 1899 to 1904. Edward John Praetorius served from 1904 to 1907. Julius James Jeffords was assistant keeper from 1929 to 1930. Oscar Floyd Quarterman served from 1909 to 1939 and was the head keeper from 1930 to 1939.
Attendees then traveled to Cocoa City Cemetery to honor Alfred
H. Trafford, who served as second assistant in 1872 and 1873 and returned in 1876 as first assistant keeper. The third service was at Evergreen Cemetery in Cocoa for Clinton P. Honeywell, the longest-serving keeper who was hired in 1891 and worked there nearly 40 years.
The U.S. Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral provided a Color Guard and a bugler to play Taps during the
“You might have looked
at them (lighthouses) as
the GPS of the seas as
far as protecting ships
coming into port.”
Located within what’s now known as Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, the cast-iron, 151-foot-
tall lighthouse went into service in 1868, replacing a 65-foot-tall brick tower first erected in 1848. The original lighthouse’s relatively short height and weak lamps proved to be inadequate in protecting mariners from the Cape’s dangerous shoals.
Due to erosion concerns, the lighthouse was dismantled and moved 1¼ miles inland, resuming operations at its new site in 1894. The lighthouse’s then-state-of-the-art Fresnel lens allowed its light to shine up to 20 miles out to sea.
“Lighthouses were so important to the commerce of the world in the heyday of the 1700s to the mid-1900s,” Ostarly said. “You might have looked at them as the GPS of the seas as far as protecting ships coming into port.”
Keepers, who often lived on the premises with their families in the sparsely populated Space Coast, had numerous tasks to complete and many rules to follow, said Becky Zingarelli, the lighthouse museum director.
For example, principal keepers were forbidden from selling liquor on lighthouse grounds and were expected to be sober, industrious and orderly.
“As you can imagine, this was probably the hardest requirement to meet out there,” she said.
The event attracted a lighthouse keeper’s descendant. Albert Scott Praetorius of Cape Canaveral, a great-grandson of Edward John Praetorius, called the event “lovely and amazing.”
“As a matter of fact I’ve already become a (foundation) member,” he said.
The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse is open for special tours.
Go to canaverallight.org or call 321-351-5052 for more information.