“The Light Had Gone Out-In More Ways Than One”

Dwelling in a lighthouse soothed daily by the ocean’s roar in peaceful solitude sounds like a dream come true for many but as I learned through combing historic newspapers, the isolation faced by lighthouse keepers and their families can lead to violent ends.

One of the more compelling accounts was that of the Smith family, whose patriarch, Ellsworth Smith, was employed as the lighthouse keeper at Conimicut Point Lighthouse in Warwick, Rhode Island. Accounts vary as to how long Ellsworth, his wife Nellie (29), and sons Russell (either 6 months or 2) and Robert (5) lived at Conimicut Point. Some sources report they were there for two to three months while others suggest they’d been in the lighthouse for a year when death came calling.

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