Mary Terry,
Keeper of the
Sand Point Lighthouse
1868 -1886

Mary Terry, the keeper of the light for 18 years, was one of the first women lighthouse keepers on the Great Lakes.

mary terry, woman lighthouse keeper

Her husband, John, was appointed the first keeper while the lighthouse was under construction, but he died of consumption before the lighthouse was completed. Mary was officially appointed in 1868.

She lived there alone, as she and her husband had no children.

Mary Terry kept the light burning on this frigid and wind-blown northern shore of Lake Michigan until 1886.

In March, 1886, a suspicious fire severely damaged the building and killed the keeper Mary Terry.

There is a certain amount of mystery about this fire as there were several unusual circumstances surrounding it. Many people thought that Mary Terry had been murdered, robbed, and the lighthouse set on fire. The south lighthouse door was open and the lock was found with the bolt shot forward as if the door had been forced open, not unlocked, and the fact that Mary was found in the oil room and not in her bedroom, led people to believe there was foul play.

Deep snow made it impossible for fire fighters to reach the lighthouse before it was very badly damaged. Some people who knew Mary Terry found it hard to believe that this was an accident since she was so careful and efficient. An article in the Iron Port said the coroner's jury ruling "that Mrs. Terry came to her death from causes and by means unknown, was the only one that could be rendered"

The Sand Point Lighthouse is located at the end of Ludington Street in Escanaba, Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan.


Sand Point Lighthouse

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