Michigan’s Lighthouse Matriarch: Elizabeth Whitney Williams

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Date(s) - Sat, Mar 16, 2024
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Williamston Branch - Capital Area District Library



Dianna Stampfler, Promote Michigan Speakers BureauDianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan will be presenting “Michigan’s Lighthouse Matriarch: Elizabeth Whitney Williams”.

An in-depth look at the illuminating life of Elizabeth (Whitney) VanRiper Williams – Michigan’s most noted female lighthouse keeper. Born in 1844 on Mackinac Island, Elizabeth led a colorful life in northern Michigan including time on St. Helena Island, Manistique, Traverse City and Beaver Island – during the years when self-proclaimed King James Jesse Strang reigned. A teenage bride, she and her husband – Clement VanRiper – moved into the St. James Harbor Light at Whiskey Point (one of two lighthouses on Beaver Island) in 1869 and thus began her 44 year career as a tender of now historic beacons. When Clement died in a shipwreck rescue attempt, Elizabeth was appointed head keeper of her beloved light. She later remarried (Daniel Williams) and ultimately relocated to the new Little Traverse Lighthouse at Harbor Point in Harbor Springs, retiring in 1913. She and Daniel lived another 26 years in nearby Charlevoix, both passing away in January 1938 (within 24 hours of each other).

Williamston Branch – Capital Area District Library